The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts rebranded under the new name "Penn Live Arts" to commemorate the center's 50th anniversary and to strengthen its connection to Penn.
Penn Live Arts announced the name change on June 29 in a press release revealing the line-up for the 2021-2022 season. The physical buildings on campus will still be named the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and the three theaters — the Harold L. Zellerbach Theatre, Harold Prince Theatre, and Bruce Montgomery Theatre — will retain their respective names.
According to the press release, the rebranding will give the center the opportunity to grow and expand programming beyond Penn's campus by holding upcoming performances at Morris Arboretum and the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rittenhouse.
Executive and Artistic Director of Penn Live Arts Christopher Gruits said that the rebranding and name change was a multi-year process that started because of conversations about integrating the center with the University.
“What we'd love to share with Penn is that the Annenberg Center is a resource for students and faculty and the community," he said. "Our programs really are there to enhance and support the Penn student experience."
Gruits added that their two goals of supporting students and being inclusive to the surrounding Philadelphia community influenced their decision to rebrand the center.
“We're trying to make sure that our programs are really accessible so that when the community comes through our doors, they feel welcome, that it's a very inclusive environment, and that people understand that it really is a community space — both for the University, but also for Philadelphia,” Gruits said.
The Annenberg Center, which opened in 1971, has long provided not only a venue for student performances but space for artists from the Philadelphia area and around the world. The Annenberg Center hosted a series of live performances online in spring 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with the announcement of the rebranding, Penn Live Arts announced performances that have been scheduled through June 2022. The season line-up, which was curated by Gruits, features performances ranging from jazz bands to theater productions.