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About AAI

The Avenue of the Arts, Inc. (AAI) is an independent non-profit organization created in 1993 to coordinate and oversee the growth and development of the Avenue of the Arts. The geographic boundaries for the Avenue of the Arts are Broad Street, one block east and west, from Washington Avenue on the south to Glenwood Avenue on the north. AAI works closely with district businesses, arts and entertainment entities to promote the district as a center for tourism and commercial activities.

Over the last 15 years, AAI has played a vital role in the creation of several key performing arts venues, including the Kimmel Center, the Clef Club and Freedom Theatre among others, and has been a catalyst for the physical improvement of the district's streetscape enhancements. AAI works to develop Broad Street into Philadelphia's premier arts and entertainment district. To achieve this goal, AAI works closely with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia, the corporate and foundation communities, and its many constituents. AAI has a unique role as the coordinator, advocate, liaison and catalyst for the Avenue of the Arts District.

Mission

Our mission is to reinvigorate Broad Street as the arts and entertainment heart and soul of Philadelphia and the region by providing leadership for growth of the Avenue of the Arts as a vibrant and attractive place to live, work, shop, play and learn.

Broad Street, the Arts and Entertainment Center of Philadelphia, is the Avenue of the Arts.

The Avenue of the Arts is Philadelphia's signature street. It is where the region gathers when it celebrates its champions. It is where it commemorates the New Year. It is where symphonies rise, dancers glide and art lives.

Statistically, the Avenue of the Arts is the longest, widest, busiest street in the region and operates at both street level and underground. It unifies a wide range of different neighborhoods, and bridges both the historic and the new. Moreover the Avenue is home to over fifty of the City's most important institutions dedicated to arts and culture, education and hospitality, while also becoming known as a place to stay, dine and shop.

A recent economic impact study (Econsult, September 2007) showed that in 2006 an estimated $424 million was generated for the Region by the activities on the Avenue of the Arts, with an estimated $150 million in total earnings, supporting approximately 6,000 jobs.

AAI's Role & Responsibilities

For the first seven years AAI focused primarily on financing for several key performing arts venues including the Kimmel Center, the Clef Club and Freedom Theatre. The following list highlights many of AAI’s early activities:

1993
AAI office opens
Clef Club groundbreaking
Firehouse Art Center at Brandywine opens
Bernard Watson installed as the first AAI Chair

1994
Arts Bank opens
Streetscape Enhancement Project begins
Restoration efforts begin for the Legendary Blue Horizon

1995
Groundbreaking for streetscape project
Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and Performing Arts opens

1996
Freedom Theatre renovations complete
Regional Performing Art Center announced
Avenue of the Arts, Inc. Festival
Wilma Theater opens
Streetscape project on South Broad complete

1997
Brandywine Print Shop opens
Groundbreaking for new theater at Freedom
Second Avenue of the Arts, Inc. Festival
High School for Creative & Performing Arts debuts on the Avenue

1998
Third Avenue of the Arts, Inc. Festival
Groundbreaking for Regional Performing Arts Center
First stage of renovation for the Metropolitan Opera House complete
World premiere of design for Regional Performing Art Center

1999
First AAI Avenue of the Arts Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
First AAI Avenue Artist Program
Prince Music Theater opens permanent home in the old Midtown Theater
Planning Document: Extending the Vision for South Broad St. Published
Tower Records opens

2000
AAI Special Advertising Supplement in Philadelphia Magazine
Second AAI Avenue Artist Program
Second AAI Avenue of the Arts Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
Ritz Carlton Hotel relocates to the Avenue of the Arts
Marjorie O. Rendell installed as new Chair of AAI Board

In early 2001, AAI embarked upon a strategic planning process to reposition the organization, focusing its energies to North Broad Street, while still keeping a watchful eye over South Broad. Today, AAI's primary objective is to engage in activities that will increase the overall economic and cultural strength, and hence economic impact of the entities that call the Avenue North and South home. To accomplish this objective, AAI performs at least four critical services for the entire Avenue of the Arts District.

Highlights:

2001
Third AAI Avenue Artist Program
First edition of AAI’s Getting to the Show on Time brochure published
Third AAI Avenue of the Arts Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
AAI Special Advertising Section in the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau's Official Visitors Guide
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts opens
Cirque du Soleil's Dralion opens at Broad and Washington
Capital Grille open

2002
Fourth AAI Avenue Artist Program
AAI participation in Jazz on the Avenue (Welcome America)
AAI releases planning update: Transforming the Vision into Reality
Second edition of Getting to the Show on Time published
Announcement of an Urban Entertainment Center, Avenue North
AAI releases new official guide to the Avenue: Bright Lights Broad Street brochure
AAI convenes an Avenue, North outreach & advocacy project
Fourth AAI Avenue of the Arts Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
AAI commission Economic Impact Study
AAI begins outreach and advocacy session for North Broad

2003
AAI produces an Avenue of the Arts "Map Library" for the website
Launch of new AAI website, with a calendar of events & quarterly newsletter
AAI Networking Mixers begin
AAI convenes a forum series: Conversations on the Avenue
Economic Impact of Performing Arts Organizations Study released
Third edition of Getting to the Show on Time
First Annual Experience the Avenue event, celebrating AAI's ten-year anniversary
AAI partners with NBC10 to promote the Avenue of the Arts
RFP for Broad and Pine/AAI Executive Director appointed to committee

2004
AAI State of the Avenue Report released
First AAI Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony for North Broad
Sixth Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
First Heritage Restored Musical Showcase for North Broad
First Beautification and Clean Up Day for North Broad
Convened Streetscape Partnering Session for North Broad
Fourth edition of Getting to the Show on Time
Consumer Awareness Study released
Second Annual Experience the Avenue

2005
RFP for Broad and Washington /AAI Executive Director appointed as committee member
AAI Awareness video complete - partnership with Red Tettemer Advertising
AAI Strategic Planning process begins
Fifth edition of Getting to the Show on Time
Third Annual Experience the Avenue
Ceremony and groundbreaking for Avenue North development project/North Broad
Ted's Montana Grill opens
AAI feature front-page article in the Philadelphia Business Journal
Streetscape Enhancement project for North Broad begins
AAI partners with Center City District on streetscape study
Hamilton Building at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) opens
Historical marker unveiled at Blue Horizon and PAFA

2006
Extending the Vision for North Broad/City Planning document released
Cirque du Soleil returns to the Avenue with Quidam
Groundbreaking ceremony for Residences at the Ritz
Announcement for Residences at 1401 Walnut
Lofts at 640 open/North Broad
AAI Strategic Plan complete

The Avenue continues to be a great example of a public private partnership, and through its leadership and partnership activities, AAI supports the physical appeal and economic growth of the Avenue, which in turn attracts new development, visitors and tourists.

Planning & Development - AAI is the sole organization that monitors the overall strength and physical appeal of the Avenue. Partnerships with the City Planning Commission, Department of Streets and the Commerce Department help achieve this goal. AAI also commissions various research to measure the impact and conditions of the Avenue (Transportation & Access, Economic Impact, Consumer Awareness).

Marketing & Promotion - To ensure maximum exposure and visibility for the Avenue, AAI must create a comprehensive marketing plan with strategies that increase awareness of the Avenue as a great destination to live, work, shop, play and learn. AAI promotes all venues/activities and serves as a resource for visitors, developers and businesses. AAI collateral materials include an official guide to the Avenue, a transportation guide, planning documents, print advertising, co-op radio promotions, and special marketing supplements and special events.

Maintenance/Beautification - AAI holds the responsibility of maintaining the iconic planters, which have transformed South Broad into a beautiful promenade. AAI works closely with various City Departments, Councilman Clarke and Councilman DiCicco on enhancements for both North and South Broad Street.  The Avenue District features decorative sidewalk paving, vintage street lamps, landscaping and "double A scripted lights."

Advocacy - Until recently, past efforts have focused solely on the development of Avenue of the Arts south. In 2001, AAI began to advocate for a development focus along its northern corridor. Working with Councilman Clarke, AAI has supported various projects (Avenue North, Lofts at 640, revitalization of Progress Plaza and Metropolitan Opera House, among other projects). AAI continues to work with City Planning and the East of Broad Improvement Association to monitor zoning issues and violations, taking appropriate action when required. AAI, through its partnership with the Center City District, will pursue ideas to reinvigorate City Hall, as it is the connector for the northern and southern portions of the Avenue of the Arts.

 
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