So what momentous news has lured me back to the blogosphere? It is the launch of an exciting new project this week in Philadelphia: CultureBlocks. Click this link for the press release announcing the project. And here is a link to a one-sheeter describing the project.
CultureBlocks is a web-based mapping tool that has built into it over 50 different types of data that can be layered onto a map of Philadelphia in infinite ways. The project was initiated by the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy along with several core partners: The Reinvestment Fund, the Social Impact of the Arts Project of the University of Pennsylvania (SIAP), and the City's Commerce Department. We have been working on this for about three years, from the very beginning of the idea stage.
A few months ago, ArtPlace held a Creative Placemaking Summit in Miami, and as part of that conference produced a quick Pecha Kucha-style video presentation on each funded project. Here is the video on CultureBlocks. If you are "visual learner" it might be a good alternative way to get an overview.
The data comes from the City (many different agencies), Federal Census data, from SIAP, and from a host of data partners, like the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. There is such cultural/creative data as locations of nonprofit cultural organizations, nonprofit (non-arts) orgs and even unincorporated entities that have cultural programs, for-profit creative businesses, where individual artists live, creative workspace facilities, and where cultural audiences are distributed. There is information on demographics - age, race, gender, income, education levels, etc. There is data on location of public transportation routes (including bike lanes), commercial corridors, CDBG eligibility, land use, locations of schools, parks and rec centers, and a host of other community assets and characteristics.
Above is a sample Match screen, showing the result of a query looking for areas of high cultural participation rates, high resident artists concentration in walking distance, and ethnic diversity.
So, I encourage you to explore CultureBlocks, whether you are in Philadelphia or somewhere else in the country, or even the world. We hope it will not only serve our local community, but also be a model for replication in other communities.
If you tweet about CultureBlocks we ask that you use the#CultureBlocks hashtag so we can follow the conversation! And feel free to comment here with your thoughts, or email us directly.