Philly Cultural Alliance leader Tom Kaiden stepping down

The head of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance will step down in July. Tom Kaiden, who has been with the region’s primary cultural advocacy organization since 2001, has led the alliance for three years.

Kaiden took over the Cultural Alliance reins from the late Peggy Amsterdam at a time when there was little coordination of lobbying efforts for arts interests and issues in Harrisburg.

To give culture some teeth, Kaiden applied hard numbers to the arts.

“One of the things that I was able to do during my time here was our documentation of just how important culture is to the sector,” said Kaiden. “The $3.3 billion impact and 44,000 jobs it generates are really important things that all Philadelphians need to know.”

Kaiden started his career in the travel industry, and says his new job is a return to his roots. He has accepted the position of chief operating officer for the Alexandria Visitors and Convention Bureau in Virginia.

The board of the Cultural Alliance will soon begin a search for its new president. Board chairman David Devan says the arts sector will change more in the next few years than it has in the last decade.

“There are fundamental issues about how consumers engage with art, how they purchase art, how art is supported,” said Devan. “The next leader will help us chart our navigation path through those changing waters.”

Until the next president is found, Michael Norris, alliance vice president, will serve as interim. Norris, the founder of Art-Reach, an organization helping people with disabilities participate in cultural events, has been with the alliance since last year.

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