Philadelphia’s Premier Outdoor Performing Arts Center
One of the Philadelphia region’s leading cultural and civic assets, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts has presented world-class performing artists of diverse musical genres in Fairmount Park since 1930.
Founded as the Robin Hood Dell Concerts, this unique outdoor amphitheater has continuously served as the summer venue for concert presentations of the world-famous Philadelphia Orchestra. From 1930 to 1976, The Philadelphia Orchestra was presented as The Robin Hood Dell Orchestra for this summer concert series.
The Mann is Music
The series moved into its present facility in West Fairmount Park in 1976. This move was possible through the generosity and support of Fredric R. Mann. “Freddy” was a prominent Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist who supported the cause of summer musical performances in Fairmount Park. He became a director of the Robin Hood Dell in 1941.
Built during the United States Bicentennial, this new venue with an approximate capacity of about 14,000 became the largest covered music and arts venue in Philadelphia. It was named the Robin Hood Dell West, with the original Robin Hood Dell venue taking the name Robin Hood Dell East (known today as the Dell Music Center).
Just three years later, the Robin Hood Dell West was renamed the Mann Music Center in Fredric Mann’s honor. The Mann has continued to host annual Philadelphia Orchestra concerts and serves more than 200,000 patrons annually through a diverse line-up of world-class artists, touring companies, and popular and contemporary musicians.
The Mann is Community
The Mann began implementing free educational programs in 1997. These programs were aimed to serve disadvantaged children and under-resourced populations throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. To better reflect the Mann’s artistic goals, broaden the venue’s programming, and provide meaningful arts experiences for diverse communities, the Mann Music Center was renamed the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in 1998.
The Mann’s community and education programs further expanded in 2007 with the building of the Field Education Center. The Mann has one of the largest free educational programs of any outdoor presenter in the country, reaching 30,000 people annually through young people’s concerts, in-school presentations, workshops, and master classes.
The Mann is Innovation
In 2008, Catherine M. Cahill joined the Mann as President and CEO. Under her leadership, the Mann has developed strategic partnerships with Evans Mirageas, consultant to classical organizations across the world, and internationally recognized music promoter AEG/Bowery Presents.
This remarkable combination of partnerships has increased overall attendance at the Mann and brought a wide variety of new, exciting, and innovative programming. Examples include Aretha Franklin performing with Condoleezza Rice, Sigur Rós, Idina Menzel with the Mann Festival Orchestra, and the Movies @ the Mann series.
The Mann received Pollstar nominations for “Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue” in North America in 2010, 2011, and 2014. In 2015, the Mann was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor and received a Pollstar year-end ranking of 49 out of 100 amphitheater venues worldwide by ticket sales.
The Mann is an Experience
In 2012, the Mann embarked on its ambitious Campaign for the Future, part of which would focus on major venue renovations designed to improve and modernize the patron experience. Investing more than $28 million in capital improvements over the past decade, the Mann’s goals were to provide better access, amenities, and options for both artists and the public, maximize the site’s skyline views, and better integrate the Mann into the natural setting of its Fairmount Park location.
A key element of Campaign for the Future was the opening of Skyline Stage, a general admission, standing room only stage located on 3.5 acres of lawn at the Top of the Hill at the Mann. With unparalleled views of the Philadelphia skyline, Skyline Stage was designed to increase the number of concerts held at the Mann, create a more intimate experience, and appeal to younger audiences. It also attracts performing artists who prefer a scalable, open-air venue over a larger, fixed-seat house. The Mann held its first Skyline Stage show in the summer of 2012.
In 2018, the Mann announced a $43.5 million campaign to fund artistic programming, campus upgrades, and a strong financial core for the Mann. This campus improvement plan welcomed 2019 concert-goers with 4,500 new seats beneath the TD Pavilion at the Mann, new LED video displays flanking the main stage, new lighting, and improved sight lines from the center of the house.
Other facility improvements over the past decade include:
- The construction of a welcoming new entry plaza with benches and concession kiosks
- An improved Guest Services Center with a new box office, concierge services, ATM, wheelchair-accessible restrooms, and first aid station
- New and improved VIP parking
- New restrooms
- New food and beverage points of sale
- New entry gates and drop-off location at the Top of the Hill
- A completely renovated East Side Pavilion, including lobby-level food and beverage and lower-level private Donor Terrace & Garden and Field Education and Outreach Center
- The construction of the Elizabeth Schoch Bowden Reception Room and pre-staging areas
- The renovation of Crescendo, the Mann’s hilltop restaurant, and relocation of the tented dining venue to the opposite side of the Top of the Hill for breathtaking city skyline views
- The addition of Acclaim, a 2,400-square-foot tented space located at the Top of the Hill with sweeping skyline views.
- A complete replacement of the main stage floor, as well as upgrades to the house lighting
- Audio and visual upgrades, including two large, state-of-the-art video screens installed in key locations and an acoustically superior upgrade of the lawn’s sound system
- The expansion, permanent irrigation, and re-grading of the Great Lawn
- A re-graded hillside for easier access to the venue and a gradual ascent to the Top of the Hill, with walkway and lighting upgrades to improve public access and egress
- The installation of new planting beds along major pedestrian promenades, as well as bio-retention beds with plants chosen to better retain stormwater and reduce runoff
The Mann is Celebration
In 2016, the Mann celebrated the 40th anniversary of its pavilion. For this season-long celebration, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Philly POPS headlined the Mann’s 2016 Summer Classics Series. In truest celebration of the Mann’s legacy, The Philadelphia Orchestra performed a special program featuring music drawn from the Orchestra’s repertoire played during the first season at the Mann in 1976.
In 2016 and 2017, the Mann celebrated being named Philly.com’s Readers’ Choice – Live Music Venue. The Mann was also awarded the Philadelphia Area Concierge Association’s 2016 The Best for Our Guests Award in the category of Music Venue. In 2018, upon launching a complete website redesign, the Mann celebrated a prestigious Webby Award nomination in the category of Events.
Historic Performances at the Mann
- Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (1976)
- The Metropolitan Opera (1978)
- American Ballet Theatre with Mikhail Baryshnikov (1979)
- Kirov Ballet (1986)
- Cats (1989)
- Riverdance (1998)
- Bolshoi Ballet and Orchestra’s production of Spartacus (2005)
- North American conducting debut of Zubin Mehta (1976)
- International debut of Yo-Yo Ma, cellist (1981)
- International debut of Midori, violin (1983)
- The Royal Ballet performing Romeo and Juliet & Swan Lake (2007 performances at the Mann were the first
Philadelphia performance in 31 years)
- North American premiere of Firebird: Reimagined. Co-Commissioner of Nationwide Consortium. (2016)
- World Premiere: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert with The Philadelphia Orchestra (2016)
Commissions / Co-Commissions
- World Premiere: Angel’s Bone by composer Du Yun (2011)
- World Premiere: Multi-media commission of the Symphonic Sports-tacular co-produced with Elliot Forrest featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra, co-narrators Merrill Reese and Michael Barkann (2011)
- World Premiere: Philadelphia Freedom Festival, The Passion of Octavius Catto, composer Uri Caine, featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra and Mann Community Choir (2014)
- World Premiere: New Frontiers Festival, Hold Fast to Dreams adopted from poems by William Henley and Langston Hughes featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra Conceived by Nolan Williams, Jr. (2017)
- World Premiere: The Philadelphia Community Mass at Monumental Baptist Church (2018), Washington, D.C. Premiere at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (2018), and World Orchestral Premiere featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann (2019) Conceived by Nolan Williams, Jr., compositions by Evelyn Simpson Curenton, Dr. Rollo Dilworth, Ruth Naomi Floyd, and Dr. Jay Fluellen. (2018-2019)
- World Premiere: Multi-media commission of A Championship Season co-presented by the Philadelphia Eagles, and NFL Films featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra (2018)
- World Premiere: Brilliantly Bernstein: Beyond the Baton Festival, Darin Atwater’s South Side, Symphonic Dances featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra (2018)
- World Premiere: SOUNDWALK, composer Ellen Reid, featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra SOUNDWALK ensemble
- Philadelphia Premiere: Deep Blue Sea featuring Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Mann Community Choir and Community Dance Ensemble (2019-2022)
The Robin Hood Dell is founded as Philadelphia's outdoor music venue.
Zubin Mehta makes his American debut at the Robin Hood Dell.
Philadelphia's largest covered music and arts venue is born as the Robin Hood Dell West. The original Robin Hood Dell is renamed the Robin Hood Dell East.
The Robin Hood Dell West is renamed the Mann Music Center after founder Fredric R. Mann. Baryshnikov and Martins appear in a production of ballet highlights.
The Mann Music Center hosts its first Kool Jazz Festival.
The Mann hosts the popular show CATS.
The Mann undergoes a physical overhaul, inaugurates the Jazz at the Mann Series with the Philadelphia Clef Club, and presents Riverdance.
The Mann completes a phase one, $15 million capital campaign.
The Mann celebrates its 40th Anniversary of our pavilion, which was built during the bicentennial.