Penn Live Arts Blog

Celebrating our 50th anniversary

Posted April 8, 2021

Today, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Annenberg Center. The gala event, held on April 8, 1971, was a proud milestone in the history of the University of Pennsylvania, and a momentous occasion for the entire Philadelphia region. As the first multi-disciplinary theatre in the city, we have, since our founding, served as a cultural destination that has connected audiences and the University through a range of innovative programs across music, dance, theatre and film.

Addressing the audience on what The New York Times called a “huge ochre-carpeted lobby” of the brand new $5.7 million theatre, Nancy Hanks, head of the National Endowment for the Arts said, “The Center is designed to benefit the community, the campus and especially the students and faculty by surrounding dramatic experience with the intellectual, research and scientific resources of the University.” George Gerbner, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, added, “It will be a place where students, professionals, artists and scholars join campus and community in the exploration of the living and electronic arts as they participate in the conduct of inquiry into its forms and nature, and into its role in our lives." More memories of the ceremony can be found on page six of the Penn Almanac’s archival issue.

Indeed, I am honored to build upon this rich legacy and lead the University of Pennsylvania’s home for the performing arts. Due to the pandemic, we must delay our in-person celebration of our illustrious 50-year history until a time when we can gather safely. However, I am pleased to let you know that we are embarking on a multi-year journey in honor of our 50th anniversary, and I invite you to be a part of our celebration. I hope you will join us by sharing your stories about the Annenberg Center in our #MyAnnenbergStory initiative.

Did you hear the music of an emerging artist who is now a legend? Maybe you are delighted to have brought your kids and now your grandchildren to enjoy our annual Children’s Festival. Perhaps a significant first date happened in our theatre seats, or you gather with your friends regularly for a pre-show dinner and dance performance. Whatever your memory, story or experience, we want to hear from you.

Simply click here to share your Annenberg story. It is easy to upload a short video, post photos or write some thoughts. And be sure to see and interact with what others have shared as well. Together, we’ll tell and continue to create #MyAnnenbergStory.