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Philadelphia Offers Coupon Book For Cultural Events

January 14, 1992 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Philadelphia wants to draw its residents to culture the same way that manufacturers draw customers to supermarkets - with coupons.

A suburban Philadelphia woman who had her own business placing business cards in restaurants had the idea - sell cultural events to the city using a $9.95 coupon book.

The book, called City Perks, offers discount coupons to 24 museums, plays, ballets, and other cultural activities in the Philadelphia area.

Among the institutions are the Philadelphia Orchestra, which offers 20 percent off Monday evening or Friday afternoon concerts; the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays, offering $10 off a pair of tickets; and the Academy of Natural Sciences, with 2-for-1 admissions.

″This book is for people who like to do more than eat,″ said Ellen Dressler, the 44-year-old former interior decorator, travel agent and business owner who came up with the idea.

The book even offers discounts to Philadelphia 76ers tickets - $2 to $5 off tickets for any or all of 21 home games. The Sixers were the only one of Philadelphia’s four professional sports teams interested in participating.

Dressler said she had intended to limit the coupons to cultural institutions, but said some bankers suggested sports discounts would help the book sell.

She also extended her definition of culture to include the Spirit of Philadelphia, a 600-passenger cruise ship that gives tours along the Delaware River, and the ″76″ Carriage Co., which gives horse and buggy tours to historic Philadelphia.

The books are being sold at Philadelphia visitors centers, bookstores, and some museums. The Philadelphia Board of Realtors also plans to give the booklet to 2,200 real estate agents as a way to entice potential home buyers to move to the area.

Sandra Horrocks, public relations director for the Art Museum, said selling visitors passes with coupons is not an ill-mannered way to get business.

″It’s the right group of institutions and places to be with,″ Horrocks said.

Here are some of the organizations selling coupons in City Perks: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute science museum, the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Annenberg Center theater, the Philadelphia Drama Guild, the American Music Theatre Festival, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia.