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Cultural Asset & Outdoor Economy Impact Assessment & COVID-19 Impact Update

York Cultural Alliance/York County Economic Alliance
Economic Equity

York County Economic Alliance (YCEA) was created in 2012 as it grew out of York County’s chamber and economic development organizations. YCEA drives economic growth in York County, Pennsylvania by leveraging regional collaboration to create sustainable prosperity.

Founded in 1999, the Cultural Alliance of York County is South Central Pennsylvania’s only United Arts Fund. The Cultural Alliance’s annual campaign powers arts organizations and artists that are essential to York’s cultural soul, and over the last 22 years has invested over $11.4 million in cash and $2.2 million in in-kind support for the arts. Under its new more inclusive and diverse operating model, the Cultural Alliance will be expanding its funding to further grow and strengthen arts and culture in York County.

York County, Pennsylvania, has an abundance of quality of place assets that contribute to its vibrancy and unique character. From world-class musicians and performing artists to multi-talented muralists and artist collectives, intentionality and passion consistently shine through across York County’s cultural programming. However, there are limited resources available to support the arts and culture sector, as well as other quality of place assets like outdoor recreation amenities, that are available on a sustained basis. The Cultural Alliance was interested in learning more about how other communities across the country have implemented a sustainable public source of funding that can continuously support this important contributor to quality of life of York County.

Our Approach

Through a combination of desktop research, surveying, and targeted interviews, York County’s cultural and outdoor assets were accounted for and classified, along with their impact and level of service, their financial model and levels of support, and their interconnectivity. We developed an ecosystem map documenting the relationships between interviewed organizations using a tool called Kumu.

Next we documented how communities similar to York County support their quality of place amenities with dedicated public funding. Six communities were identified, researched, and interviewed. The selected communities share similar characteristics to York County, such as geography, population, and area median income. Research consisted of interviews and desktop research to understand the history and public approval of funding mechanisms, as well as their impact on quality of life indicators, talent attraction and retention, overall community wellness, and economic growth in the arts, cultural, and outdoor recreation sectors.

Finally, we developed a scenario to visualize the impact – present and future – of a cultural asset strategy and accompanying financial support, to demonstrate how the community could benefit from a dedicated funding source for Cultural and Outdoor assets within York County.

The Results

The Cultural Alliance and YCEA have begun sharing the ideas presented in the report with local philanthropists, foundations, and municipal funders, to gauge interest in setting up a sustainable public funding model, discuss structure, and determine next steps.


York County, PA

Project Type

Economic Development Strategy

Client Type




Final Deliverable Design Samples (Click to Enlarge)
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