Photos by Aidan Un
Located on the third floor of the Philadelphia Building at 1315 Walnut Street, which houses a number of tech companies, the space is filled with re-purposed local historical curiosities: 19th-century Boy Scout lockers from a South Philly church used as storage, a 100-year-old bolt sorter from a Lancaster County barn used as a mailbox, seats from Father Divine‘s chapel at the top of North Broad’s Divine Lorraine Hotel. Founder Thaddeus Squire (our Q&A with him talking about the origins of this space) points to his connections to the local heritage community (see: Hidden City, which he helped found) to explain the abundance of cool stuff.
Check out our photos of the space, which Squire said still isn’t quite finished, below.
The space can fit about 200 people, Squire said, and so far, CultureWorks has nearly 70 members. He spent almost two years gathering a community and recruiting members before the space actually launched. Members range from artists (playwrights, graphic designers and more) to service providers for artists (attorneys, PR people and others). There’s a fairly even split between members who run nonprofit and for-profit businesses, Squire said.
Members get a number of perks, Squire said.
- From a partnership with Drexel’s art management program, members will be able to hire a Drexel co-op for $15/hour to help them with tasks like grant-writing and accounting.
- ZipCar is waiving application fees for members.
- Squire is also working on a partnership with CBS Radio to get members discounted radio advertising.
- Members will also be able to participate in CultureWorks’ fiscal sponsorship program, where they can essentially rent CultureWorks’ nonprofit status in order to get tax benefits when it comes to charitable donations.
As for CultureWorks’ Center City location, Squire said it’s like giving artists a “Madison Avenue address.” There was an assumption that CultureWorks would open up shop in a developing neighborhood, Squire said, but artists are already out there. What’s more, this isn’t a place for artists to create, he said. It’s a place for them to manage their business.
The Center City locale didn’t help CultureWorks when it came to finding funding, Squire said, because there was the notion that CultureWorks wasn’t helping revitalize a community. Some people think that Center City doesn’t “need” artists because it’s already developed, Squire said. “But that’s too narrow a view,” he said.
Local artists the Dufala Brothers are working on a permanent art installation that will be in the entrance area of CultureWorks, Squire said.
CultureWorks has a five-person staff, which runs the nonprofit’s three businesses: coworking, fiscal sponsorship and its co-op, which is basically a management outsourcing program where CultureWorks staff handles an organization’s finances, fundraising and other administrative tasks.