(The Rotunda)
Live Venues — Webcrawled Links
Con­tent retrieved from:

Built in 1911 as a house of wor­ship orig­i­nal­ly for the First Church of Christ Sci­en­tist, it was designed by Car­rere and Hast­ings, the New York-based firm who set the tone of the Amer­i­can clas­si­cism of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. With its low, tile-roofed narthex, cir­cu­lar main hall (AKA the sanc­tu­ary), and over­sized win­dows, The build­ing is of unsur­passed sim­plic­i­ty and ele­gance recall­ing Ear­ly Chris­t­ian spaces such as Rome’s San­ta Sabi­na. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia pur­chased the build­ing in 1996 as a strate­gic acqui­si­tion tied to a large scale com­mu­ni­ty invest­ment strat­e­gy known as the West Philadel­phia Ini­tia­tives. With its prime loca­tion at 40th and Wal­nut, Penn explored sev­er­al rede­vel­op­ment options such as retail use, a radio sta­tion, and restau­rant. While pur­su­ing rede­vel­op­ment options, Penn’s real estate offi­cials respond­ed to the ideas put forth in a 1998 Urban Stud­ies sem­i­nar led by Dr. Ira Harkavy and Dr. Lee Ben­son at the Uni­ver­si­ty, which called for the for­ma­tion of The Foun­da­tion Com­mu­ni­ty Arts Ini­tia­tive. By mak­ing space avail­able in a por­tion of the build­ing, the Foun­da­tion held their first event in 1999 pro­duc­ing a free, all ages Jazz con­cert open to the pub­lic. Uti­liz­ing the pro­gram­ming and per­form­ing tal­ents of both stu­dents and oth­er West Philadel­phia com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, The Foun­da­tion, led by an under­grad­u­ate stu­dent, Andrew Zitcer, quick­ly began pro­gram­ming week­ly events and month­ly series, show­cas­ing world music, Jazz, Rock, Exper­i­men­tal, and more, while con­scious­ly striv­ing to unite diverse groups of peo­ple through arts and cul­ture expe­ri­ences. By 2002, The Foun­da­tion, pri­mar­i­ly fueled by ded­i­cat­ed Penn stu­dents with the aid of per­form­ers, artists, activists, and event orga­niz­ers from with­in the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ty, acknowl­edged the need for a full time Direc­tor of The Rotun­da. The appoint­ment of a venue Direc­tor allowed an increase in the fre­quen­cy of events while strength­en­ing mar­ket­ing efforts, out­reach, and qual­i­ty of pro­gram­ming. Nowa­days, we use the name The Foun­da­tion inter­change­ably with the venue name of The Rotun­da. Gina Ren­zi, a local event orga­niz­er, artist, and activist, was hired while Andrew Zitcer accept­ed a posi­tion at Penn’s Office of Stu­dent Life, pro­gram­ming Perel­man Quad­ran­gle and oth­er cam­pus spaces in addi­tion to advis­ing on all facets of The Rotun­da and serv­ing as an liai­son between The Rotun­da and Penn. In Jan­u­ary 2004, Andrew went on to become the Cul­tur­al Asset Man­ag­er at Penn’s Divi­sion of Facil­i­ties and Real Estate Ser­vices (FRES). In this posi­tion, he over­saw and assist­ed to cul­ti­vate exist­ing and new venues and projects with­in the FRES arts and cul­ture port­fo­lio. The appoint­ment of a Direc­tor allowed an increase in the fre­quen­cy of events while strength­en­ing mar­ket­ing efforts, out­reach, and qual­i­ty of programming.

The Rotun­da is part of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia Facil­i­ties and Real Estate Ser­vices Arts Port­fo­lio (FRES ARTS). FRES ARTS unites a set of cul­tur­al assets that exist along the 40th street cor­ri­dor and ele­vate the qual­i­ty of life for Penn and Uni­ver­si­ty City by pro­vid­ing access to the arts for mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ties. The FRES ARTS port­fo­lio includes an artist in res­i­den­cy pro­gram, an art gallery, stu­dios, per­for­mance and screen­ing space. These sta­t­ic pro­grams are joined by annu­al fes­ti­vals that bring tens of thou­sands of patrons per year to the area, enliven­ing the street and mak­ing the area safer and more invit­ing. The FRES ARTS assets sup­port the aca­d­e­m­ic mis­sion of Penn by pro­vid­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries for aca­d­e­m­ic exper­i­men­ta­tion and beyond the class­room learn­ing. They sup­port the social mis­sion of the Uni­ver­si­ty by pro­vid­ing greater access to Penn’s real estate assets to the cul­ture com­mu­ni­ty. And the eco­nom­ic mis­sion of the Uni­ver­si­ty is served as the arts form a strong co-ten­ant for the vibrant retail des­ti­na­tion that is 40th Street.

The major­i­ty of our 300+ events per year hap­pen in the now-leg­endary space in the back (AKA the back space or main room), which has host­ed artists such as: Matisyahu, Spoon, John Leg­end, Wiz Kali­fa, and oth­er stars, while always focus­ing on grass roots, city and neigh­bor­hood-based artists, activists, stu­dents, and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers. Very few venues can claim such a diverse ros­ter. One night may offer an Appalachi­an folk con­cert; the next a hip hop show­case; the next a gong orches­tra; the next a block cap­tain gath­er­ing and stu­dent film series…and so on.

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