Cultural organizations vie for $50,000 prize

    The top prize in a software company’s contest is a contract for a mobile phone application. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is in the lead.

    A software company has launched a contest for cultural organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region. Many Philadelphia regional arts groups are vying for their own mobile phone application or “app.”

    The software development company called icihere is asking its website visitors to vote for the organization that should win a custom app. It says a full-service app contract is worth $50,000.

    Amy Ellsworth of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology says apps are new to the museum world.

    “It’s really hard to get funding for this sort of thing, because a lot of our funders don’t really understand what a mobile app is,” says Ellsworth.

    What exactly an app can do for a cultural organization is very broad and not well understood. Not every group has a good idea for this specialized type of software.

    Nick Stuccio of the Philly Fringe Festival hesitated to develop one.
    “I thought, I’m going to have to get with a company, have a bunch of long planning meetings, they’re going to have to design a back end, and it’s going to cost $50,000,” says Stuccio.

    But Stuccio did have an app made to download theater schedules. In the end, it cost him nothing.

    So what will a $50,000fi app get you? The Penn Museum – the current contest leader – wants users to be able to access images of each item in its million-piece collection, cross-reference historical data, and download video lectures.

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