Mingling in plain clothes amongst the crowds, more than 650 Philadelphia singers burst into a performance of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus last weekend at a downtown Macy's. Mouths dropped. Shoppers pointed, laughed and smiled -becoming a part of a growing group of people witnessing "Random Acts of Culture" in eight cities across the United States. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Random Acts of Culture series brings classical artists out of the performance halls and into the streets and our everyday lives.
Think Mozart at the Food Court. A tango in an airport terminal. Or in Saturday's case, the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah orchestrated by the Opera Company of Philadelphia. [Video available at www.RandomActsofCulture.org]
With the help of local partners, Knight Foundation will produce 1,000 Random Acts of Culture over the next three years in eight cities: Akron, Ohio; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit, Mich.; Macon, Ga.; Miami, Fla.; Philadelphia, Pa.; San Jose, Calif. and St. Paul, Minn.
"Not everyone can make it to see the opera, or the ballet. But when you get a taste of it - even for just a few minutes - you feel the magic that the classical arts bring to our lives," said Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation's vice president/arts.
Those who don't happen upon a performance can get that sense of awe online: Videos of the performances are available at www.RandomActsofCulture.org.
"We are honored to be working with Knight Foundation on this forward-thinking initiative that recognizes live, public performance as a meaningful way to extend the reach of the classical arts beyond our theater," shared David B. Devan, executive director of the Opera Company of Philadelphia. "By providing much-needed resources for these Random Acts of Culture, Knight is allowing new audiences to experience the joy of performance in a most visceral and unforgettable way."
Knight Foundation's arts program invests in projects that enrich and engage communities.
"Like little else, the arts have the power to bring people together, and to create the shared experiences that strengthen communities," Scholl said.
In addition to the Random Acts of Culture series, Knight Foundation's arts program also runs the Knight Arts Challenge Miami and Philadelphia, community-wide contests to fund the best ideas for the arts. The foundation also funds other projects - from promoting African dance to digitizing museum collections - in eight cities. About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.