Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One Reason Why I've Been M.I.A.

Readers, I miss you! As you know, the past two months have been crazy between my oboe life and my Curtis life

Now, some "extracurricular" projects are a priority for the next few weeks, including: For the second year in a row, I am serving as a volunteer grant panelist for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

PCF distributes money from the City of Philadelphia to its cultural sector. I believe this year ~275 organizations applied for ~$1.6 million of available funding. (You do the math and tell me if you think that's enough City funding for what the GPCA reported as having a $3.3 Billion with a Capital B economic impact.)
PCF uses what's called a "peer panel review process" to determine grant recipients and award amounts. This means that rather than solely the board deciding who gets the money, like with most foundations, a group of experts in the field objectively reviews, discusses, and scores grant applications to guide the board in its decision-making.

I'm on 1 of the 2 music panels, which will review and rate 20 small/mid-sized organizations. Then PCF's board uses a formula, which factors in our scores as well as the organization's budget size, to determine the award amount.

One fun part of the PCF process is they also require panelists each to meet in person with a few organizations. This year, I've been assigned as the "site visitor" for the Mendelssohn Club and The Bach Festival of Philadelphia, which I met with today. 

A relatively new organization called CultureWorks handles all of their administrative work, so our meeting was at their sweet new office: 

Mostly I just wanted to post these cool pics...
maybe I should switch to Tumblr.
CultureWorks is having an open house/house party next Thursday. I recommend checking it out to see some awesome design and learn about what is probably a unique organization in Philadelphia. 

The Bach Festival is pretty cool, too. And now that I've learned that their principal oboist is Geoffrey Burgess, the man who literally wrote the book on the oboe, I hope to check them out this spring (assuming it doesn't conflict with my own Bach Festival performance).

Serving on the PCF panel is a lot of work, but I really enjoy and value it for several reasons: 
  • It improves my own grantwriting. There's almost no better way to learn what works and doesn't work in a proposal than to read dozens of them and participate in a discussion with industry leaders about the strengths and weaknesses of organizations and their applications. 
  • It's a little bit nostalgic. The first grant application ever I did was for PCF back in 2007 when I worked at the Relache Ensemble and was my introduction to this crazy field.  
  • It's fun. Yes, I am a geek, but I honestly like reading a ton of grant applications and talking "shop" about them with my colleagues.
  • It's a good way to see what's going on in the sector. My general conclusion last year was there is a lot of good work being done and we need to cultivate more support for it!
  • I value transparency and integrity and I think the peer panel review process ensures fair distribution of YOUR money.  
After last year's panel meeting, I felt invigorated, honored to be in the Philadelphia arts scene, and appreciative of my job at Curtis. I am proud to volunteer on behalf of the arts sector and the City's taxpayers, and look forward to this year's PCF panel meeting. Good luck to all of the applicants!

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