The Power of Penn Performing Arts

Debut of a New Vision

As the University of Pennsylvania’s home for the performing arts, the Annenberg Center connects diverse audiences with visionary artists and innovative ideas, engaging both the University and the greater Philadelphia community in transformative artistic experiences.

Our vision for the performing arts at Penn is of the creation of new, innovative work, deeper integration with students, faculty and programs across the University, inclusion of diverse audiences, artists, and the broader community, and the transformation of our physical space to serve collaborative creation and appreciation of dance, music, theatre, and film.

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak; we write; we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

— Toni Morrison


The Annenberg Center is Philadelphia’s premier curator of groundbreaking artistic programs, and the center of the performing arts on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. For nearly half a century, we have served as the foremost presenter of diverse performances across dance, music, theatre, and film, supporting the creation of new work, and committed to bringing national and international artists to Penn and Philadelphia that would otherwise not be seen in our region.

World and U.S. premieres and debut performances across music, dance, and theatre in the 2019-20 season

Unique Programming

As a leading edge performing arts center based on the campus of an Ivy League research institution, we push the boundaries of the performing arts. We collaborate with co-presenting organizations like the Penn Museum, WXPN, and Fringe Arts to bring distinctive, original performances to the Penn and Philadelphia audiences. We co-commission world premieres of new theatre, providing artists with opportunities to take creative risks with the support of a state of the art facility and production staff. And we bring extraordinary artists to campus for Artist Residencies—providing the Penn and Philadelphia communities with distinctive opportunities to participate in programs designed in partnership with the preeminent performers of today.

Contextualized Performance

At the Annenberg Center, we present innovative artists who use their work to comment on the important social and cultural moments of our time. That’s why we leverage the tremendous resources at Penn and in Philadelphia to frame performances throughout the season, exploring the history, impact, and context of art and how audiences experience it. We produce programs that incorporate artists into public panels and University seminars, and invite our audiences to investigate music, theatre, and dance through post-performance Insights discussions. These programs also investigate important narratives in our home city of Philadelphia, including a recent programming arc entitled The Philadelphians: Migrations That Made Our City, which considers how migrant populations past and present have shaped Philadelphia's cultural landscape. 

Performers laughing

Fuel innovation at the Annenberg Center by supporting a:

Jazz music series
Dance artist residency
Curator of Programming position

Embedded within
the University

Centrally positioned as a major presenter on an Ivy League University campus, the Annenberg Center draws from the depth of academic resources at Penn, building partnerships across the University that allow us to strengthen engagement with our professional performances through master classes, collaborations with academic departments, and post-show discussions with University faculty.

Penn students attended performances during the 19/20 Season

Academic Engagement

We believe the value of the performing arts extends far beyond the limits of the Annenberg stage. Our programming is deeply integrated into the University experience, enriching both academics and student life through curricular and co-curricular collaborations. We support curricular faculty by embedding our professional performing artists into the academic experience, including seminars and workshops with the music department, the staging of world premiere theatre productions and collaborations with theatre arts, and activating the Montgomery Theatre, a space originally designed for film, with Cinema and Media Studies teachings and screenings.

Theatre Arts Music Department Cinema and Media Studies

Student Engagement

During the academic year, the stages, rehearsal rooms, and lobby spaces of the Annenberg Center hum with the activities of student performers, directors, stage managers and production crews. Every season, dozens of student productions are mounted across the Annenberg’s three stages, with cast and crew profiting from the expertise of our professional production staff. And Penn student workers consistently more than double our professional staff, supporting the Annenberg across administrative offices from box office to production and serving on the front lines of artistic and community engagement.

Platt Student Performing Arts House Calendar

Alumni Engagement

Opportunities abound for visiting alumni to experience the power of the performing arts at Penn, and we bring the show on the road, too, by way of arts-inspired events across the country. To deepen these connections, the Penn Performing Arts Initiative (PPAI) was established in 2016 to provide ways for Penn alumni who are passionate about the arts to connect back to the University in meaningful way, and to support Penn’s robust performing arts community. With leadership and growing support from regional councils in Los Angeles and New York, PPAI is a collaboration between the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the Platt Student Performing Arts House, and the School of Arts and Sciences’ Theatre Arts Program and Department of Music.

Penn Performing Arts Initiative
Performers laughing

Further the integration of the performing arts into University life by supporting a:

Dance master class series
Theatre production apprenticeship
Curatorial fellowship in film


The Annenberg Center serves as the institutional bridge between the University and our surrounding community through a strong commitment to looking outward and engaging diverse audiences. Our programs are focused on inclusive performances and programs that engage constituents from throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding area.

reached annually by our Children’s Festival and Student Discovery Series

Children’s Programming

We bring the performing arts to youth across our local community by way of our Student Discovery Series and Philadelphia Children’s Festival—the longest-running festival of its kind in the country. Through our youth education programs, we know that the performing arts not only inspire, but engage children in creative, critical thinking that translates to all areas of academic performance and to their quality of life. With a particular focus on Title 1 Schools in underserved neighborhoods, the Center brings professional caliber dance, music and theatre to local youth at deeply subsidized prices and reaches between 8,000 and 10,000 young people annually.

Leveraging Partnerships

Through an on-going collaboration with Penn's Netter Center for Community Partnerships, we are broadening the reach of our Student Discovery Series to include Penn's nine identified University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS). With a strategic focus on kindergarten, 3rd, 6th, and 9th grade, the partnership's long-term goal is to reach these students at all nine UACS with an annual invitation to attend a professional matinee performance at the Annenberg Center, providing a consistent and high-quality professional performing arts experience.

Reaching New Audiences

Our community programs are designed to open the doors for audiences who may otherwise not attend professional dance, music, and theatre at the Annenberg Center. Our West Philly Rush program provides discounted tickets to the residents of West Philadelphia. Discounts range from 50- 80% off of the typical ticket price, and significantly improve access to the professional performing arts for the over 290,000 residents who fall into the seven zip codes that form the West and Southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods surrounding the University.

Performers laughing

Deepen the Center's connections to our West Philly community by giving to the:

Philadelphia Children's Festival
Student Discovery Series
West Philly Rush Subsidized Ticket Program

Looking to the

On the verge of the Annenberg Center’s 50th anniversary in 2021, we proudly reflect on our history of bringing exceptional performing artists to Penn and Philadelphia. And we look to the future with excitement, as we set plans to broaden our reach through innovative programs that bring the arts outside the Annenberg Center walls, and facilities updates that invite audiences, student performers, and professional artists into our space for increasingly frequent and meaningful engagements.


Activating the Arts

The Power of Penn Performing Arts Campaign is just the beginning of our transformation as we amplify our role on campus as a creative center for innovative performing arts, from the student experience to the professional season. The future of the Annenberg Center is a resource and connector for Penn performing arts, and an entity that brings together students, faculty, alumni, and the public to activate the arts across the University and throughout the city. The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, housed within the building, is the first step in realizing the vision for a more interconnected arts culture on Penn’s campus.

Advancing our Facilities

As we approach our 50th Anniversary and envision our role as central to performing arts at Penn and in Philadelphia, we are working with a professional architecture firm to develop a new facilities master plan. In partnership with the University, the plan addresses renovations and expansion at the Center to build our capacity to support more programming for student and professional artists. These physical updates will also modernize our venue to offer state-of-the-art performance, rehearsal, and teaching spaces, increased patron accessibility, and a dynamic, welcoming environment for all.

Accordion player on stage

Help us transform the Annenberg Center by naming a:

Theatre Seat
Dressing Room
FY20 By the Numbers

Widespread Impact

  • 0
    professional premiere and debut performances
  • 0
    Penn student produced performancess
  • 0
    Penn students attended performances
  • 0K+
    tickets sold
  • 0
    Penn student workers (24% increase over FY19)
  • 0
    posts of curated digital content on Annenberg Center @ Home blog in Q4 of FY20
  • 0K+
    page views of curated digital content

Join your passion with ours as we bring this vision for the Annenberg Center to life. Invest in the Power of Penn Performing Arts and sustain innovative, inclusive, and impactful performing arts at Penn and in Philadelphia.

To discuss how you can support the Power of Penn Performing Arts, contact Kristin Winch, Director of Development
215-898-6754 |

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