New award honors Peggy Amsterdam, a champion of the arts

Peggy Amsterdam led the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance until she died of cancer last year, the day after Christmas. 

Next year, the Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, and PNC Bank, will give away $1,000 in her memory.  The prize will continue for at least two more years after that.

The award — called the PNC Arts Alive Award for Arts Innovation — will go to an area organization for its ability to attract and retain audiences. The nomination process is a public one — anyone can nominate any group, and any group my nominate itself.

Amsterdam was widely admired for engaging more people in the arts.

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Jean Canfield of PNC knew Peggy Amsterdam personally. She remembers her as a strong champion of the arts.

“I was amazed by her energy, enthusiasm, they way she came into Philadelphia and became a transformational leader for that organization and the broader community,” said Canfield, director of community relations for PNC. “She was a good friend of mine. I admired her as a leader and as a colleague.”

The award will be announced at the annual Arts and Business Council luncheon in April. The council gives away a handful of awards every year. One of them, for artistic excellence, is named after the late director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Anne D’Harnoncourt.

Virginia Maroun says the new award recognizes the marketing initiatives that Amsterdam spearheaded during her 10 years as president of the Cultural Alliance.

“Peggy stood for innovation and for increasing access to the arts,” said Maroun. “It’s a strong reminder that that was her vision and something she worked very hard for.”

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