Arts advocate Peggy Amsterdam dies at 60

The arts community in Philadelphia is mourning the loss of its longtime champion.

The arts community in Philadelphia is mourning the loss of a longtime champion. Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance President Peggy Amsterdam died Saturday after battling cancer. She was 60.

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It doesn’t take long for Tom Kaiden to sum up his boss’s character.

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Kaiden: Peggy was the consummate connector.

Kaiden, the Chief Operating Officer of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance since 2001, says it’s not hard to see why Amsterdam was able to forge so many partnerships for the organization… she simply befriended a lot of people.

Kaiden:If I walked two blocks in Philadelphia beside her, we would stop five times for people that would know her, and that connection really helped vault the Cultural Alliance’s work, and was a real treat for any of us who worked with her.

Amsterdam’s accomplishments are wide ranging, according to Kaiden. She helped the Alliance develop the online Philly Fun Guide. She lobbied to get the city’s Office of Arts and Culture reopened. She led successful charges against both city and state arts taxes.

The Cultural Alliance counts most of the region’s arts institutions as members. Kaiden will succeed Amsterdam as Interim President, as the organization’s board seeks a new full-time executive.

Amsterdam was also an integral part of the arts community in the state of Delaware.  She served as head of the Delaware Division of the Arts from 1993-2000.  She was credited with the creation of the Delaware Arts Stabilization Fund.  That fund is now seen as a national model for addressing  the way some arts organization are funded.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell praised Amsterdam as an important part of Delaware’s cultural heritage, saying she, “understood that the arts create jobs and attract economic development to our state.”

A memorial service will take place Wednesday from 11a-12n at the Philadelphia Theater Company’s Suzanne Roberts Theater on South Broad Street.

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