New passes give high school students access to the arts

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

by Isaac Riddle

With District schools suffering from severe cuts in arts and music education, a new program is offering the city’s high school students free admission to 12 of the city’s museums and attractions.

Students at Museums in Philly, or STAMP, targets young people between the ages of 14 to 19 who live in the city. Students can enroll in the program by registering at the STAMP website, after which they will receive the STAMP Pass free of charge to present to any of the 12 participating institutions during non-school hours.

“Our goal is to make sure that Philly teens have access to more of the city’s incredible arts and culture and for them to think of arts and culture as something fun and interesting they can do in their leisure time,” said Michael Norris, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance interim executive director, in a statement.

The participating museums and attractions are the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Barnes Foundation, Eastern State Penitentiary, Fabric Workshop and Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, Mutter Museum, National Constitution Center, National Museum of American Jewish History, Penn Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Philadelphia Zoo.

STAMP, a one-year project, is funded by the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Teen Program, in coordination with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. It is also supported by grants from the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Philadelphia Foundation’s Fund for Children.

In addition to the pass, the program also has an online component. Students can visit the website to find out about other cultural opportunities, research jobs and internships, and receive invitations to exclusive events for STAMP passholders. The website is also a platform to promote teen programs of STAMP’s community partners.

The Philadelphia Cultural Alliance created the STAMP Teen Council, a group of 11 high school students who helped develop the program. To help market the program, he council is using social media to encourage students to take advantage of the pass.

During October, students can ride the PHLASH bus, which makes a downtown loop, for free by showing their STAMP pass.

“The cultural community in Philadelphia – institutions like museums and historical attractions – is a crucial partner for the city in our effort to provide quality programming for students outside of school,” said Mayor Nutter, in a statement.

“The STAMP program meets a critical need by providing teens with valuable cultural experiences and activities that are both fun and safe,” he said.

Isaac Riddle is an intern at the Notebook.