Philadelphia, February 20, 2015 – The City of Philadelphia’s CultureBlocks project has been recognized as a 2015 Bright Idea by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. CultureBlocks, managed by the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, is a free online mapping tool that aggregates cultural assets and demographic information that is used to visualize the relationship between cultural activity in Philadelphia neighborhoods and the economic and social wellbeing of those neighborhoods.
“The City of Philadelphia has so many diverse cultural assets, it can be a challenge to know the depth and breadth of the artistic opportunities we have to offer. CultureBlocks is a tremendous resource for all Philadelphians to keep track of the wealth of arts and culture experiences available. Having this information in one place, easily accessible, allows us to make better, more informed decisions around research, planning and investment in our city’s creative economy,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “We are honored that the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation has recognized the value of the CultureBlocks program. I want to thank all of the partners who made this project happen; it is a great example of what we can accomplish when public and private sectors work together to improve our city.”
CultureBlocks, launched in 2013, is a public-private partnership between the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy; the Department of Commerce; The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) Policy Map; and the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SAIP) at the University of Pennsylvania. The project is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and ArtPlace.
Individuals, organizations and funders can use CultureBlocks to identify cultural and socio-economic disparities across the City of Philadelphia in a highly visual, relationship-driven manner in order to make strategic investment decisions. The data collected for CultureBlocks was also used to generate a supplemental research report, Cultural Ecology, Neighborhood Vitality, and Social Wellbeing – A Philadelphia Project, which served as a companion to the datasets in the tool and additional data provided by the City.
This is the fourth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching and have sufficient operational resources and must be administered by one or more governmental entities; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible if operating in partnership with a governmental organization. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.
“The Bright Ideas program demonstrates that often seemingly intractable problems can be creatively and capably tackled by small groups of dedicated, civic-minded individuals,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center. “As exemplified by this year’s Bright Ideas, making government work better doesn’t always require massive reforms and huge budgets. Indeed, we are seeing that, in many ways, an emphasis on efficiency and adaptability can have further-reaching effects than large-scale reforms.”
To view the CultureBlocks, visit: http://www.cultureblocks.com/.
For more information on the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, visit www.ash.harvard.edu.