The African American Museum in Philadelphia won $45,000 in year one of the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia for “RAAMP It Up Wednesdays.” The free weekly concert series showcased local performers at the museum’s Seventh Street Plaza. We talked with AAMP’s Curator of Education and Public Programming, Ivan Henderson, about how the series drew in new audiences and strengthened relationships with the community.
Knight Arts: You launched your Knight Arts Challenge project, RAAMP It Up Wednesdays, this summer. Can you tell us about the series?
RAAMP It UP Wednesdays is a great way of inviting people into the museum. We explore several genres of music/performance art over the course of 18 weeks, so almost anyone can find a reason to stop by and check it out. Once they are here, visitors are able to experience and learn about a range of educational activities and public programs available here at the museum, as well as our exhibitions. Most importantly, though, we deliver the message that our museum’s value is built upon an active, positive relationship with our surrounding community.
What kind of audiences have you seen at the museum for the series?
Although we typically have seating for 125 – 150 people outside on our plaza (the performance area during good weather), we often see much larger crowds, with some stopping by briefly and others coming into the museum to see the galleries. We see people of all ages and ethnicities here, with some of this summer’s newer faces becoming familiar faces within weeks. Many of our visitors have been coming early each week in anticipation of the event.
How has RAAMP It Up impacted the museum?
For many of our members, RAAMP It Up has renewed our relationship and given them a new look at the museum. At the same time, many non-members are beginning to see the value in supporting AAMP, as well as the important contributions (time, money, membership, etc.) they can make towards sustaining this institution. I’ve also spoken to a number of international tourists who are drawn to the museum by the outdoor music. They are usually pleasantly surprised that RAAMP It Up is free, and most stay to listen, even if it was not a stop they had scheduled.
We are beginning to see a rise in membership purchases and volunteerism from RAAMP It Up attendees of varying ages and ethnicities. In addition to increasing our public value, RAAMP It Up has also positively affected public awareness of our museum and the types of programs and exhibitions we have to offer.
Learn more about the AAMP and other upcoming programs and exhibitions at www.aampmuseum.org.
Could this be your year? Submit your best idea to the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia here, by Oct. 31.