Public Art Works Consider Festival’s Physical Place in History

Posted by Fernando Orellana, Nadine Wasserman, Aug 17, 2016

The more I looked at the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers coming together in Pittsburgh to form the Ohio River, the more I drew parallels between those waters and myself. I, and so many others like me, are the children of two genetic and cultural rivers that propelled towards each other for thousands of years. The confluence of these two rivers can be seen as the unavoidable collision of the Old World with the New World.

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Advancing Arts Locally

Posted by Erika Juran, Jan 02, 2018

While we all work to serve audiences that are growing in diversity, we cannot prescribe the art that might engage our audience without engaging in conversation. We must be ready to walk with them, to find out through relationship and exploration together what their expectations, needs, and wants are. And that’s how we truly build community through the arts.

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The Best Seat in the House: Where Skills-Based Volunteers Meet the Arts

Posted by Eileen Cunniffe, Oct 23, 2014

Eileen Cunniffe Eileen Cunniffe

For nearly eight years, I’ve had the privilege of managing skills-based volunteer programs for the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia. Which means I’ve got the best seat in the house when it comes to observing what happens when business and technology professionals take on pro bono capacity-building projects with nonprofit arts organizations.

I’m the director—or as I like to say, the “matchmaker”—for both Business Volunteers for the Arts (BVA) and Technology Connectors (TC). Once I’ve met with an arts client and defined the type of project support they are looking for, I carefully curate a volunteer match and make the introductions, then step back and watch while our arts clients and our volunteers work their magic on each other. That’s right—on each other. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned after matching volunteers on about 250 consulting projects, it’s that the volunteer consultants almost always benefit at least as much as the arts organizations do. It’s a special kind of alchemy, and it’s fun to watch it unfold.

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Student Achievement: No longer “A little bit of Technical Skills and a lot of Inspiration”

Posted by David Deitz, Sep 10, 2013

O.David Dietz
O.David Dietz

In an ARTSblog post by Erin Gough on July 23, 2013, teachers are encouraged to be champions for the arts in ways that are often not a part of college preparatory curriculum. Erin notes that “too often, teachers believe that as long as their students leave their class with a little bit of technical skills and a lot of inspiration, they've done all they can to prove their value.” She then continues to connect the role of student achievement in the arts, in the form of student performances, plays, musicals and visual art presentations, to the role of teachers as advocates for student achievement in the arena of public policy makers.As a retired music educator (one of Erin’s teachers, I’m proud to say!) I would concur that my experience with arts teachers would support the premise that these teachers shy away from the very people and decision-making opportunities that ultimately affect both their art and their ability to be employed. Advocacy for advocacy’s sake is not the realm in which these teachers thrive and provide leadership. However, arts teachers do thrive and provide leadership in a realm that is important to public policy makers at all levels: student achievement.

Current trends in educator effectiveness systems require that evidence of student achievement be attributed to teacher evaluation, often in equal proportion with teacher observation. Arts teachers have long known that student achievement is the primary focus of instruction, and they have provided evidences of that achievement in the ways that Erin describes: student performances, plays, musicals and visual art presentations. However, student achievement must now be examined from the perspective of each individual student that a teacher instructs, and not from the conglomerate success achieved by an art show or a music/theatre/dance performance.

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Seven Key Principles for Curating a Cultural District

Posted by J. Kevin McMahon, Feb 04, 2015

Numerous editorials have covered the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s work in overseeing Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations—turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of the 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, which attracts over two million visitors annually. The organization has grown from a $170k budget in 1984 to a $53M budget today. Most importantly, 90% of the annual budget is allocated to the mission and programs and the organization has maintained a balanced budget year to year.

Below are seven key principles that informed the development of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.

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