FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Pittsburgh, PA | APRIL 1, 2021
Pittsburgh-based Creative Business Accelerator (CBA) and Philadelphia-based CraftNOW have announced a statewide pilot, funded in part by the PA Council on the Arts (PCA). Named the Keystone Alliance for Creative Economies and Entrepreneurship (KACEE), KACEE will enable CBA and CraftNOW to share high-level, aggregated data on their respective creative ecosystems’ impact on regional economies.
KACEE is part of a new relationship where the CBA is assisting CraftNOW (craftnowphila.org), 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,” observed 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.”
To accomplish this analysis, the CBA utilizes an impact management system (IMS) to capture outputs relating to its six focus areas – capital, markets, peers, workforce, assistance, and space. The CBA’s goal is to provide creative businesses, including makers, artists, designers, and craftspeople, with access to these six focus areas. Stronger creative businesses contribute more actively to Bridgeway’s equitable economic development efforts in western Pennsylvania.
For example, for its 2021 fiscal year, the CBA aims to help creative businesses reactivate over 100,000 square feet of production and retail space, with 90% in low to moderate-income areas. In the same year, the CBA will help Bridgeway finance $1 million in projects with creative businesses and aims to provide over 2000 hours of assistance in workshops and one-on-one consultation. Soon CraftNOW will create a region-specific IMS interface focusing on its growing capabilities and partnerships in Philadelphia.
IMS was made possible by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “Arts and Culture is an important component of our Economic Development funding program,” stated Sam Reiman, Director of Richard King Mellon Foundation. “And an important component of our work in Arts and Culture is to shed light on the numbers and narratives that demonstrate how the creative sector grows and improves the wider regional economy. And that’s what IMS does.”
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.
In 2020, the PCA partnered with Bridgeway Capital, the CBA’s parent organization, and Community First Fund, a CDFI, to launch the Creative Business Loan Fund. Responsibility for servicing the $2.2MM fund is split geographically between Bridgeway Capital, which serves the western half of Pennsylvania, and Community First Fund, which serves the eastern half of the state.
“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 CBA is exploring possibilities with the PA Wilds’ Center for Entrepreneurship. They operate The Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania, an entrepreneurial network with over 375 small businesses and supporting organizations, including more than 100 rural makers across the Pennsylvania Wilds region. “We’re very interested in the opportunity to share best practices with partners that work with the similar goals and vocabulary for creativity-driven economic development,” said Tataboline Enos, Founder & CEO of the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship.
KACEE 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 CraftNOW: CraftNOW Philadelphia unites the leading institutions and artists of Philadelphia’s community in a celebration of the city’s rich legacy in the field, its internationally-recognized contemporary scene, and its important role as an incubator for arts based in wood, clay, fiber, metal and glass. CraftNOW invites locals and visitors alike to explore Philadelphia’s innovations in the world of the handmade. More information at www.craftnowphila.org.
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 arts.pa.gov or call 717-787-6883.
Contact: Adam Kenney | Director of Creative Business Accelerator
Bridgeway Capital | 707 Grant Street, Suite 1920 | Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 615.275.9234