Philly prepares to welcome back live entertainment with Arts Launch 2021

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After a year and a half in the dark, the curtains will soon rise once again here in Philadelphia with a big "welcome back" celebration happening Saturday on the Avenue of the Arts.

The idea of live performances returning to our stages is emotional for audiences and the artists too. The Philadelphia Orchestra just started rehearsals Friday.

On Saturday, they will be providing one of 50 free, live performances at Arts Launch 2021, the big grand reopening event at the Kimmel Cultural Campus.

It's a big moment and one we've been waiting 18 months for.

"There's nothing like being home," said Matías Tarnopolsky, the President & CEO of The Philadelphia Orchestra & Kimmel Center. "When the orchestra started rehearsing today, it brought tears to my eyes. This is profoundly moving. It's actually really hard to put into words."

Just in time for Saturday's big event, the "I Heart Philly" sculpture was installed in front of the Kimmel Cultural Campus.

It was first installed in LOVE Park in 2019 for a welcome event, and now it's back for Arts Launch 2021, where it will stay through the end of October.

"We're welcoming people back to the Avenue of the Arts. We are welcoming people back to live performances. We're welcoming people back to the city," said Kelly Lee, the Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia. "That's what 'I Heart Philly' represents. It's a welcoming statue, it represents all cultures and all types of creativity."

Everyone is invited to place stickers representing their culture and heritage on the heart

"Definitely stand by the space sculpture, get your picture taken," said Lee. "If you have a sticker that represents your culture, or the way you like to create, put it on the heart. That's what it's for. We want that heart to represent all of Philadelphia."

Arts Launch 2021 is happening Saturday, September 18th from 11am to 4pm with 50 free performances across the Kimmel Cultural Campus.
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.