The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance's Techniculture Innovation Residency Awards: Where Arts and Technology Converge

As the worlds of art and technology continue to blur, we here at IP continually find ourselves asking the big questions. Would Shakespeare have had a blog? Would Picasso know how to operate a scanner? And what would be on Warhol's Instagram page?

We're kidding, of course. In fact, it's the first time we've ever asked these questions. But hopefully, they underscore the breathless pace at which technology is transforming the role of the artist. And in a way, it's a problematic phenomenon. Artists generally want to, you know, make art. Arts organizations want to promote art, attract underserved populations and engage their communities. Many don't have the time to educate themselves on the newest technology trends that, ironically enough, might further these goals.

All of which brings us to the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance's Techniculture Innovation Residency Awards. Their aim? To explore the convergence of technology and culture while fostering deeper collaborations between Philadelphia’s arts and cultural community and the tech sector.

To accomplish this, the program will match three organizations with a technologist or digital agency to help them evaluate their digital needs and develop a plan to launch a project or application that aligns with their mission. Each residency will be seeded with a $2,000 stipend for the individual technologist or digital agency assigned to the cultural organization. After their residency, organizations will be supported in winter 2016 with a curated "design challenge" featuring technologists, arts professionals, marketers, communications specialists, and grantwriters who will help them take their project to the next level and think through the next phases of development and implementation, including funding for their projects.

One may think the awards were established to help arts organizations secure needed cash for their digital goals. In reality, however, the main obstacle facing organizations wasn't a lack of funding, but what sociologists call the "tyranny of choice." Too many options, too many technologies, too much confusion.

"The cultural community is eager to innovate... [but] the biggest obstacle to breaking into the digital arena isn’t just funding—for many, it’s not knowing where to even begin," said Maud Lyon, president of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. "This award is a great opportunity for an organization that has the will and passion to innovate, but doesn’t have the capacity or resources to take the first step."

The awards are open to current Cultural Alliance member organizations with an operating budget of $1 million or less. Application deadline is August 21st. For more information and to apply, click here.

And while you're at it, click here for more insight and analysis on philanthropic trends in the City of Brotherly Love.