Foundations should require public art displays, rehearsals and performances

The movement is already afoot, put on most prominent display by the Knight Foundation’s Random Acts of Culture, but I crave more.

Last Wednesday, I was waiting to meet someone in the food court beneath the giant Comcast Center in Center City Philadelphia. Then people started singing, as you can sort of make out in the above photo. Turns out it was a new performance by the Opera Company of Philadelphia. It was cool, not only watching the rehearsal, but all of the people stop and watch the rehearsal.

But here’s where I think it gets fun.

Foundations, like Knight and, in Philadelphia, William Penn, and Pew and hundreds of others, give out lots of money to support the high arts, from theater companies to operas, to ballets and anything in between.

In no way should all performances be held outside. I have no problem with tuxedos inside the Kimmel Center — that’s cool in its own right. But I think foundations — and, really, anyone who doles out money — should work to bring more of the arts to more of the people.

Every art performance should have at least one, if not a series, of public rehearsals in any public space available, outside or inside, in commercial, residential or any where else.

The people who hold the cash, can make that happen.

Whenever I’ve taken walks in Rittenhouse Square, I’ve wished more students from the Curtis Institute — you know, the world’s most exclusive and well-regarded classical music training program in the world that sits privately in the ritzy Philadelphia neighborhood — would just go outside and played in front of people.

Expose more people to why it’s cool or how it can be compelling, flashy or otherwise. Inspire someone. Hell, it might even be good for business.

For example, check out the video below Knight’s funding of 650 opera singers bursting out in song in a Center City Macy’s.

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