Mission and History
The Mann's Mission
The Mann Center for the Performing Arts presents diverse, world-class entertainment in a beautiful park setting at affordable prices. As a nonprofit organization, we operate with the help of ticket sales, grant monies, corporate support, and donations from friends and patrons like you. Giving back to the community is part of our mission. That’s why we offer a host of outreach opportunities as a FREE service to under-served audiences through our Access the Arts Program. Access the Arts includes complimentary tickets for nonprofit groups, our Young People’s Concert Series, and more.
The Mann's History
The Mann Center for the Performing Arts was founded in 1935 under the name Robin Hood Dell Concerts, as the summer venue for the concert presentations of the world famous Philadelphia Orchestra (known from 1935-1976 as The Robin Hood Dell Orchestra in the summer). The Center moved into its present outdoor facility in 1976, and subsequently was designated the Mann Music Center in honor of Frederic R. Mann, a Philadelphia businessman who supported the cause of summer musical performances in Fairmount Park. In 1998, the facility was renamed to “The Mann Center for the Performing Arts” to reflect the Center’s plans to broaden its programming and service to the overall community.
The city-owned facility consists of covered seating for nearly 5,000, outdoor seating for another 4,500 and a 4,000-person capacity lawn, open for general admission. The Mann has always focused on bringing world-class artists and touring companies to the community. This history includes such landmark performances as the Philadelphia premieres of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kirov Ballet, CATS, The Metropolitan Opera, Riverdance, American Ballet Theatre with featured artist Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sarah Brightman, the North American conducting debut of Zubin Mehta, the international debut of violin prodigy, Midori, world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and in the summer of 2005, the Philadelphia premiere of the Bolshoi Ballet and Orchestra’s production of Spartacus.
In 1998, a new beginning was launched at the Mann. In addition to the traditional summer series of Philadelphia Orchestra concerts, the Mann season rapidly expanded to include more than just orchestral and popular concerts. New programming initiatives included a four concert Pops series, and an exciting new Jazz @ the Mann series as well as the presentation of a diverse roster of contemporary music favorites. For two weeks in September of 1998, the Mann proudly presented the Philadelphia premiere of Riverdance.
During the 1999 season, the Mann continued to present the Philadelphia Orchestra’s six-week concert series while further refining the Pops @ The Mann and Jazz @ the Mann series. The launch of these new series attracted a younger and more diverse audience within each musical niche. These new audiences were 20-30 years younger than traditional orchestra patrons.
In the Mann’s 2000 season, the organization launched its Arts In The Park series which included the return of opera to the Mann for the first time in twenty years as well as the premiere of a Shakespeare production on the Mann stage. The Pops and Jazz series were presented with an expanded number of performances.
The Mann has also reaffirmed its commitment to its Access the Arts program and initiated major new educational and outreach programs designed to serve the community. Today, 50,000 complimentary admissions are made available through 350 local community service and charitable organizations. The Young People’s Concert Series consist of five major productions designed to educate and inspire young audiences. This series has grown from one to five presentations in just five years and has enjoyed a twenty-fold increase in attendance. In 2006, nearly 35,000 children attended a wide variety of music, song and dance performances that celebrated diverse countries and cultures from around the world. The Mann is the only major summer entertainment venue in the country with public access outreach programs of this magnitude which are also free to everyone.
Today the Mann presents a comprehensive season of performances consisting of classical concerts and a wide variety of artistic programs designed to embrace all of the performing arts and musical genres.