When the Philadelphia-based Barnes Foundation moved one of the world’s greatest private collections of artwork to the city’s Parkway Museums District, it elevated Philadelphia into the nation’s top tier of cultural cities. Philly is quickly growing in many directions and all of them benefit planners.
In the highly touted Parkway District, there are more than a dozen cultural venues with large event space. One of those is The Barnes museum with an astounding array of Impressionist and early modern paintings. Nearby, the 1929 Beaux-Arts Rodin Museum houses the largest collection of sculptural works outside Paris.
Much of the cultural explosion concentrates around the Pennsylvania Convention Center Philadelphia in the heart of downtown. A 2011 expansion created more than a million square feet of saleable space, including seven exhibit halls totaling 528,000 sf of continguous space, 79 breakout rooms and a 55,000-sf ballroom.
“It’s the largest ballroom on the East Coast,” says Julie Coker, senior vp of conventions for the Philadelphia CVB. “Philadelphia is a modern renaissance city that celebrates freedom, values innovation, nurtures creative spirit and has a vibrant street life. And it’s all just steps away from the convention center.”
The CVB aggressively acts as consumer advocate for business clients to assist specific industries. Coker says, “Our Multicultural Affairs Congress, Greater Life Sciences Congress, and the Sports Congress each have a board of directors who build a network to connect the planner directly to the business community. No other city offers this.”
The close-knit partnership between the Congresses and the business community creates a win for corporations seeking CSR. The Life Sciences Congress and the Franklin Institute are working with planners from the largest manufacturers of life science equipment in Philadelphia for a springtime conference. The united effort will be an educational boon for middle and high school students exposed to the expert research scientists and exhibitors. The Franklin Institute host 2,000.
Coker points out the new 271-room Hotel Monaco Philadelphia that opened in October, following the $92 million renovation of the 1929 Art Deco Hotel Palomar Philadelphia in 2009. The year-round Stratus Rooftop Bar & Lounge offers bird’s eye views of Liberty Bell Center. Chef Guillermo Tellez serves seasonal comfort food in the Red Owl Tavern.
“Planners are still looking for value for their dollar and ROI,” says Coker. She explains that in today’s market, many groups can no longer sponsor three meals a day for attendees. With the convention center’s downtown location, easy accessibility to restaurants with different price points is a big bonus.