By Bobbi Booker
Ed Bradley is among the Philadelphia natives returning home to promote the regional arts and culture scene in an initiative to boost support of Philadelphia art and artists with a series of ads scheduled to begin airing next month.
The advertising campaign is the brainchild of philanthropist H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest and will feature Bradley along with fellow Philadelphians Peter Boyle, David Brenner, Blythe Danner, Kevin Eubanks, Jack Klugman, Al Martino, Cheri Oteri and Parker Stevenson.
“I’m very grateful to the Philadelphia celebrities who came forward to support Philadelphia arts in this effort,” said Lenfest. “Their contribution of time and talent will help bring more attention to the arts.”
The year-long television campaign supports eleven major arts organizations: American Theatre Arts for Youth, Broadway at the Academy, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Kimmel Center Presents, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ballet, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Philadanco.
“We all could not afford the kind of coverage we get,” said Joan Myers Brown, artistic director, Philadanco. “So having someone upfront it for us and make sure that it happens means a lot to Philadanco.”
The campaign, which began through a three-year commitment from Lenfest in 2002, has been extended through Spring 2008 and will air over $5 million in television airtime during the campaign’s tenure. The goal is to increase the attendance of a culturally diverse audience at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Academy of Music and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. In past years, the star-studded ads have featured vocalist Patti Labelle, dancer Judith Jamison and actor Kevin Bacon.
“The arts are important and Philadelphia is important – it’s my hometown,” says Bradley in one of the current commercials. “I’m always happy to support the arts in Philadelphia. This is a chance for me to say, ‘Hey, come out and watch what’s happening in Philly.’”
In another ad, actress Blythe Danner states that, “Growing up in Philadelphia and being surrounded by the arts was an extraordinary experience. Without the arts we are empty. The arts give us tremendous spirit and life force.”
Lenfest is a media entrepreneur who sold his media holdings to Comcast in 2000 for over $1 billion.
“We sold our company in 2000 and came into a lot of money and had to figure out what we were going to do with the money,” said Lenfest. “We decided to create a television and cable advertising campaign to promote not just the institutions, but to support people buying tickets to come to the event.”
Like each arts group featured, Philadanco has selected premier performances or events that will be highlighted in the ads during the 2006-2007 arts season.
“It’s really important that we get the kind of exposure that we wouldn’t ordinarily get, cause you know as an African-American organization we definitely couldn’t afford it,” said Myers Brown. “There’s a network much larger that we need to b e attracting to our performance, so it really works for us.”
“The media companies have all been great, the celebrities are great and it’s all coming together where they all work together to promote attendance to events in the Philadelphia region,” said Lenfest of the four-year-old campaign. “So it’s been a big success.”
The new series of television commercials were screened earlier this week at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and are scheduled to begin airing Sept. 5.