We've all experienced those moments we look upon with wide-eyed wonderment that make us say: "You don't see that every day." Like seeing a small plane "pulled over" on the side of the expressway, or enjoying a world-famous cheesesteak at Geno's in Philly when suddenly a bunch of men in sweatshirts start belting out Verdi. The plane on the side of the expressway is completely random. The men in sweatshirts singing Verdi is a Random Act of Culture perpetrated by the Knight Foundation.
Beginning in 2010, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (See Knight Foundation: Grants for Music) began carrying out their Random Acts of Culture in eight communities around the nation, including Detroit, Akron, Miami, Charlotte, Macon, Philadelphia, San Jose, Silicon Valley, and St. Paul. If the cities in which these random acts take place seem a bit haphazard, they aren't. The Knight foundation mainly focuses its philanthropic intentions on cities in which the Knight Brothers owned and operated local newspapers. The Foundation does, however, operate in other cities as well as internationally. In the case of the Vencunigja drummers' performance at Miami International Airport, this Random Act of Culture was performed in a local community with a large international audience.
The Random Acts of Culture program is like a flash mob for the arts with the deeper purpose of actually bringing art forms like opera and ballet to the people of the community. At the conclusion of the act, one of the participating artist's holds a sign reading "You've just experienced a Random Act of Culture."
Knowing that this was a new concept and not being so sure how these impromptu performances were going to go over with the locals, Dennis Scholl, director of the Knight Arts Program and creator of the Random Acts of Culture program, originally decided to fund 1,000 such acts (Read Dennis Scholl's IP profile). Now that it's evident that the locals like what they see, The Knight Foundation is happy to oblige and the Random Acts continue on.