Keystone Alliance for Creative Economies
Announcing in Spring 2021
Statewide Pilot Program for Creative Economies Gains Momentum with Investment from PA Council on the Arts CraftNOW in Philadelphia, PA, and Bridgeway Capital’s Creative Business Accelerator in Pittsburgh, PA, will share methods and metrics on the impacts of their creative ecosystems.
Philadelphia-based CraftNOW and Pittsburgh-based Creative Business Accelerator (CBA) have announced a statewide pilot, funded in part by the PA Council on the Arts (PCA), that will enable the two organizations to share high-level, aggregated data on their respective creative ecosystems’ impact on regional economies.
The pilot, called Keystone Alliance for Creative Economies (formerly KACEE), is part of a new relationship where the CBA is assisting CraftNOW, a nonprofit arts organization, as they establish a framework and measurements for potential economic development activities. “We’re already seen as a valuable arts intermediary in Philadelphia,” said Leila Cartier, Executive Director of CraftNOW. “By working with the CBA, we want to identify and cultivate the other economic development impacts our network can foster, and our city urgently needs.”
CraftNOW was launched in 2015 by a consortium of individuals, galleries, museums, universities, retailers, and civic organizations. Though diverse in background, CraftNOW has been united in its desire to capitalize upon Philadelphia’s outstanding craft resources and highlight the city’s continuing role in defining the future of craft.
This past year, to help further unite Philadelphia’s leading institutions and artists in craft, CraftNOW conducted a survey to identify business services that would assist Philadelphia’s craft and maker sector. The survey was sent out to craft people and organizations across the city with the goal of identifying the challenges and needs of the city’s makers and artists. The information shared would be integral in shaping strategies to enhance existing initiatives, developing new programs and partnerships, and growing resources for a broad cross-section of the community.
One of the initiatives that came out of the survey results was to develop a comprehensive Artist and Maker Directory, which launched in January and is already proving to be an invaluable tool as CraftNOW begins new programming. The directory demonstrates the expansive network of professional artisans who are based in Philadelphia to a collector and consumer audience.
“Right now, there are several funders actively looking to provide relief and support to creative businesses and artists. Our directory provides a comprehensive and continually growing list of reputable artists and artisans that are eligible to apply,” Cartier said.
After the survey results were studied, CraftNOW began looking for a partner to help implement the newly identified goals and metrics.
“We have long admired Bridgeway’s work in Pittsburgh’s creative economy through its CBA program. In 2019, we brought CBA Director, Adam Kenney to Philadelphia to speak at our Economic Development Roundtable and Craft Capital Symposium,” said Cartier. “When the survey findings were complete, I shared them with Adam, and the spark of an idea for a statewide partnership was solidified, and with support from the PCA, KACEE was actualized.”
Support from the PCA comes from the agency’s Statewide Creative Catalyst program and will help develop and brand KACEE as a shared resource that serves multiple state partners. This effort expands the PCA’s strategy to support creative businesses and entrepreneurs contributing to the state’s economy.
“KACEE aligns with the PCA’s desire to help Pennsylvania’s creative economy generate the outcomes we will need in a post-pandemic world,” states Karl Blischke, Executive Director of the PCA. “To cultivate a robust economic recovery, nonprofits and businesses will need varied types of support to help ensure the return of jobs and creation of new opportunities throughout the sector.”
KACEE will initially represent Pennsylvania’s two largest urban creative economies but is already considering other partners to help deepen the pilot program’s connection to rural areas.
The organization will also have a website where the partners can share creative economy performance from their regions and aggregate information into a statewide perspective. “This project will build public awareness and appreciation of the arts in Pennsylvania communities,” states Adam Kenney, Director of the CBA. “KACEE’s messaging will tout the multidimensional benefits creative ecosystems bring to communities, beyond cultural vitality, like main streets activated and jobs created.”
About Creative Business Accelerator at Bridgeway Capital: Bridgeway Capital, a Pittsburgh-based social impact investor, operates the Creative Businesses Accelerator (CBA), which empowers makers, designers, artists, and craftspeople to grow and contribute to equitable economic growth. More information at www.bridgewaycapital.org/creative-business-accelerator.
About PCA: The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) is a state agency under the Office of the Governor. The mission of the PCA is to strengthen the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of Pennsylvania’s communities through the arts. By leveraging the immense potential of Pennsylvania’s arts and cultural sector, the PCA supports jobs, builds community, inspires lifelong learning, promotes the commonwealth nationally and internationally, and sparks innovation. For more information about the PCA, visit www.arts.pa.gov or call 717-787-6883.