Well, this is just awesome. Sometimes nice things do happen.

STAMP’s full and official title is “STAMP: The Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Teen Program,” a project underwritten by the Hess, Wyncote and Knight Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Philadelphia Foundation’s Fund for Children and Wells Fargo, born out of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance with dance party support coming from the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. It grants 14- to 19-year-olds free admission—during out-of-school hours—to a long list of the city’s finest museums and cultural institutions. STAMP just launched Year Two with a dance party at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that celebrated 11,000 Philadelphia teens’ enrollment and kicked off, hopefully, a successful drive to sign up even more.

There’s nothing bad about this. Try to find the darkness—I dare you. In a city like ours, where public education is wounded and suffering, and we’re trying to encourage teenagers to stay safe and focused on the future, this is a win-win program that gets kids engaged in safe educational spaces outside of their bell-to-bell routine.

Check out the list of participating institutions: African American Museum of Philadelphia, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel, the Barnes Foundation, Eastern State Penitentiary, Fabric Workshop and Museum, The Franklin Institute, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Mutter Museum, the National Constitution Center, the National Museum of American Jewish History, the Penn Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia History Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo.

Imagine being an aspiring artist at a Philadelphia public school, having no money or funding to become the next Thomas Eakins or Cy Twombly. Now, thanks to STAMP, you have unlimited free admission to go sit with their work, stare at it, recreate it, sketch it, whatever.

We got a teen council member, the charming Asia Kaiser, to answer a few questions about the Fun Safe Philly Summer kickoff party and what participation in STAMP means to her.

PW: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself: age, school, academic interests, future goals and maybe your favorite institution that this program gives you access to. How’d you get involved as a teen council member?
ASIA KAISER: My name is Asia Kaiser, and I’m a junior at Julia R. Masterman. I really love my school and appreciate all it has to offer. It also doesn’t hurt that my school is close to Center City, with over five museums in walking distance. My favorite subjects would have to be science and Spanish. I play the cello in my school orchestra as well. All of the museums on the STAMP Pass are unique and enjoyable. I’m interested in studying medicine when I get older, so the science museums—such as the Mutter Museum, The Franklin Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences—really interest me. I also love the zoo because who doesn’t love seeing animals and petting goats?

Tell me a bit about the dance party last week. Did you guys have a blast? How were DJ Marcus Soto’s skills? Also, did anyone from the teen council get a chance to say a few words?
The dance party on the 20th was fantastic. The annual launch parties are some of our biggest and greatest events. There were tons of teenagers from Philadelphia, and I even ran into quite a few friends. The food was nice, and DJ Soto was a great bonus. A lot of people, including the teen council, were dancing and having a good time. Although the teen council originally planned on saying a few remarks, things went a little different than we had planned, so we didn’t have the chance to speak at the event.

This is a way cool program, and it also makes a great deal of sense to me (and apparently Mayor Nutter, too). What does it mean to you to have the city co-sign on these partnerships? Did remarks from Mayor Nutter give the event a little extra significance?
It was a real pleasure to have Mayor Michael Nutter come out and talk about the program at our event. It gives us the reassurance that STAMP is being recognized as an immensely important part of culture in Philadelphia. I think that the remarks made by the city on STAMP’s behalf will encourage teens and museums to take the pass more seriously.

There are three newbies, right? And they were there at the dance party? How did they and the other  institutions try to engage you at the dance party?
Yes, STAMP now has 15 museums, with the new ones being the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia History Museum. They were at the party on the 20th, and each museum had their own table with information, activities and sometimes free things to give out. One of my favorites had to be the Fabric Workshops’ table, where they gave out pieces of fabric with special prints on them.

How does the STAMP Bucks loyalty program work? How will you guys be able to benefit from regularly checking out the STAMP museums?
STAMP is launching a new loyalty program that gives you points whenever you visit a museum or attend a STAMP event. When you get a certain number of points, you can choose between different gifts and prizes in the STAMP shop. This is to encourage teens to keep using their passes, visiting museums and exploring what the city has to offer.

I hope this isn’t the case, but do you have to remind your peers that there are these world-class museums in their own city? Is there any nastiness thrown your way for being a culture enthusiast as a teen? Please say no. (*Fingers crossed*)
Unfortunately, there are still teens out there that don’t know about the STAMP Pass, but I always encourage my friends and peers to sign up for it. I am extremely enthusiastic about this program, and luckily, I receive a lot of support from others, even if they weren’t originally interested in museums. Yes, many teens have trouble naming more than five museums in the city, but STAMP is an excellent resource for finding information. My fellow STAMP teen council members and I are always willing to share what we know.


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