Monday, August 31, 2009


New cultural passport program debuts

PEX passport gets freshmen into dozens of Philly arts culture venues

Friday, Ausut 28 , 2009

One of Philadelphia's top draws as a college town is the city's world-class arts and culture scene. Yet for many students, tickets for concerts and museums can be too expensive — especially during a recession.

A new Temple program for entering freshmen aims to fix that by offering freshmen free or steeply discounted access to a breathtaking range of arts and culture destinations in the region. Starting this fall, Temple's General Education program will provide every Temple freshman a 2009-10 Philadelphia Experience Passport — also known as a PEX Passport — containing coupons for free or significantly reduced entry to 37 different museums, theater companies, concert venues, dance studios, an independent film festival, the zoo, an historic home and more. The coupons in each PEX Passport represent a potential total savings of more than $450, including free entry at more than half of the participating destinations.

Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University

The Philadelphia Experience Passport (PEX passport) gives freshmen free or reduced-price access to 37 Philadelphia-area arts and cultural destinations.

Although some other universities have similar programs, GenEd Director Terry Halbert says Temple's cultural passport stands out for the breadth of its offerings and its integration into the university's undergraduate curriculum.

"Philadelphia's cultural landscape has been burgeoning," Halbert said. "The PEX Passport gives you bite size chunks of all flavors — not just mainstream, established organizations like the Philadelphia Museum of Art or the Philadelphia Orchestra, but smaller, emerging, alternative groups like Theater Exile or Pasion y Arte, a Flamenco dance company. No matter how students choose to wet their feet, this is a great way to explore the city and begin a life-long exploration of art and culture."

Halbert says the PEX passport is a natural extension of GenEd's Philadelphia Experience theme. About half of Temple's GenEd courses include out-of-the-classroom experiences in Greater Philadelphia.

"Our GenEd faculty have learned about these destinations and are embedding them in their work," Halbert said. To help Temple instructors incorporate the passport into their courses, the GenEd program is running a series of workshops led by Philadelphia arts and culture expert Kenneth Finkel, an American studies faculty member who has taught several GenEd courses, and Deborah Block, director, performer and founder of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival — a PEX passport participant. The next workshop is Tuesday, Aug. 25, in room 111 of the TECH Center from 1 to 3 p.m.

About half of Temple's entering freshmen will have received their PEX passport at orientation. Freshmen who do not receive a passport at orientation can claim one at the information desk in the Howard Gittis Student Center by showing their OWLcard (limit of one per student).

To use the PEX passport, Halbert recommends starting by visiting the Temple GenEd web site at and clicking on the passport image. Visitors will find an interactive map of arts and culture destinations, descriptions of participating organizations and information on public transit. To gain admission at a participating destination, students simply show their passport and their OWLcard, after which a coupon stub will be torn from the passport. Each coupon can only be used once.

The PEX passport is valid for one year, starting on Sept. 1, 2009 — a date that can't come soon enough for the delighted students who’ve received passports so far.
An arts and culture menu for any taste

Temple's new Philadelphia Experience (or PEX) Passport program will get freshmen in for free or at steeply discounted prices at the following arts and culture destinations throughout the region in 2009-10. For more information on each outlet, including coupon conditions, visit and click on the PEX Passport image.

Academy of Natural Sciences
African American Museum of Philadelphia
Arden Theatre Company
Azuka Theatre
Ballet X
Barnes Foundation
Bartram’s Garden
ComedySportz Improv
Curtis Institute of Music
1812 Productions
Eastern State Penitentiary
Fairmount Waterworks
First Person Arts
Flashpoint Theatre
Franklin Institute
Independence National Historical Park
Independence Seaport Museum
Institute of Contemporary Art
InterAct Theatre
International House
Kun-Yang Lin Dance
Lantern Theater
Mauckingbird Theatre Company
Miro Dance Theatre
National Museum of American Jewish History
Painted Bride
Pasion y Arte Flamenco Dance
Pennsylvania Ballet
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia Fringe Festival
Philadelphia Art Alliance
Philadelphia Orchestra
Philadelphia Shakespeare Company
Philadelphia Zoo
Rosenbach Museum and Library
Theatre Exile
Wagner Free Institute of Science

"I wanted to go to school in a city that had a lot going on in the arts," said Owen Pelesh, a freshman in the School of Communications and Theater. "The edgier stuff is exciting. I'll get to experience some cool things that I've never even heard of before. I'm going to go to every one of the places that's in [the PEX passport]."

That's good news for Philadelphia's arts and culture outlets, many of whom are eager to build new audiences.

"What's great about this program is it gives students a chance to try something new at low risk that will resonate with them for them for the rest of their lives," said Tobin Rothlein, producing artistic director of Miro Dance Theatre, a PEX Passport participant. "That's important to us, because we want audiences who are passionate."

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