Know Before You Go: New Health and Safety Protocols

Home  Stories  Donate Now ➤

A Critical Moment

A Critical Moment in the History of the Cultural Trust

For more than 35 years, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has led the transformation of the Cultural District and downtown area. The Trust has always taken great pride in providing for the Pittsburgh region. Its theaters, galleries, festivals, and events bring together millions of people every year for superior experiences in the arts.

The ripple effects throughout our region are constant – the arts connect us, bridge differences, build community, transform the economy, and improve quality of life for everyone.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on arts and culture in our country and in our city. Since March 2020, the Trust has been forced to cancel more than 4,000 events, leaving a cultural void in our community. Not only have more than one million patrons missed out on the opportunity to gather to share arts experiences, the Trust continues to face significant financial impact.

Consequently, our downtown restaurants, bars, hotels, and retailers have suffered great losses as well. It is clear the economic impact of the Trust is significant and without it our Cultural District cannot thrive. The arts have the power to fuel an economy and enliven an entire city. This is the essence of the Trust’s existence.

In April 2020, the Trust identified a $6 million shortfall in our budget for the 2020 fiscal year – a first in its history. Our generous supporters helped us make significant progress to bridge the gap and help ensure a bright future for the arts in the Cultural District. Significant challenges remain as the crisis continues to have a major effect on the Trust and other arts organizations. Though while our venues remain dark for now, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The Trust will emerge from this pandemic and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Cultural District. For us to overcome these unprecedented circumstances, to make our streets and spaces vibrant once again, to share in the emotions and energy that live entertainment brings to our community, to be financially poised to reopen when it is safe to do so, we need the help of our community – your help.

Your Support Can Make a Difference!

If you took a selfie with the Rubber Duck
If you have seen a Broadway show at the Benedum Center
If you look forward to the awe-inspiring exhibits at SPACE and Wood Street Galleries
If you have been moved by beautiful contemporary dance presented by the Pittsburgh Dance Council
If you walk your dog along the Allegheny Riverfront Park
If you enjoy JazzLive on Tuesdays in Katz Plaza
If you have seen the wonder on a child’s face at their first Children’s Theater experience
If you have enjoyed free music and art at the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival
If you met your favorite author at Bookish in the ‘Burgh or the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival
If you have experienced a little bit of hocus pocus at Liberty Magic
If you have seen how students’ creativity flourishes in Summer Camps for Creatives
If you watch the the Highmark First Night Pittsburgh fireworks downtown on New Year’s Eve

…then you know firsthand just how vital our Cultural District is to our region and way of life.

If you miss us like we miss you – please support Art Connects Us: A Critical Fund for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust as we work to preserve and, when we are able, reopen our Cultural District.

Urban Development, Economic Impact & Arts Experiences for All

Since 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has worked to make the Steel City a place where the arts can flourish. Our efforts have focused on the cultural and economic development of the Cultural District, a 14-square-block area of downtown Pittsburgh. What was once a downtrodden red-light district now thrives as a vibrant center for culture, art, food, and community. Pittsburgh’s Cultural District stands as a nationwide model for how the arts can play a pivotal role in urban revitalization.

Each year, millions of people visit the Cultural District to expand their horizons in our theaters, galleries, and public art environments. Patrons enjoy thousands of world-class performing arts events and visual arts exhibitions. Pittsburgh residents of all ages connect and learn with the Trust’s comprehensive education and community engagement opportunities. Local arts organizations collaborate to build a stronger cultural community through the power of partnerships.

The Trust’s economic impact to our city if far reaching. In a typical year, the Trust helps to generate $300 million in economic activity in Southwest PA and draws millions of visitors to the Cultural District. It is crucial that Trust remains strong through these trying times because of our role in empowering thousands of artists, arts organizations, businesses and stakeholders.

The story of the Trust is ongoing, and its legacy is in the making; but in its first 35 years, its impact has been undeniable. There is no doubt that the success of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust—and the Cultural District—has been tied to the overall renaissance that the city of Pittsburgh has enjoyed in recent years.

The Pandemic’s Impact on the Cultural Trust

On March 13, 2020 the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust shut down its 30 performance venues, rehearsal spaces, meeting rooms, offices, and galleries. This change, which happened essentially overnight, also led to a loss of ticketing, venue rentals, parking, and other ancillary revenue. The longer our Cultural District is dark, the greater this loss grows, leaving contributions from our financial supporters our only source of revenue. In addition, since the shut-down, the Trust has been forced to furlough 50% of its full-time work force – 49 staff members as well as more than 100 part-time staff members due to the loss of 4,000 events, education programs, and performances. Artists, educators, and other workers who rely on a thriving Cultural District have been deeply impacted as well.

Touring Broadway programming is one of the most significant revenue generators for the Trust, allowing us to present a wide range of free programming throughout the year, such as our beloved festivals, education programs to students and teachers, and gallery crawls. Because of the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, some touring Broadway shows are postponing or cancelling their engagements. For every week of Broadway programming that does not occur, the Trust loses significant revenue

Cancelled performances have also erased income from concessions and rent normally paid to the Trust for the use of venues. With downtown workers staying home, revenue from the Theater Square Parking Garage has slowed to a trickle.

Protecting our Cultural District

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust proudly serves as a steward for the Cultural District in addition to presenting world-class performing arts and programming. In total, the Trust manages more than one million square feet of real estate in the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization.

The Cultural District is made up of many spaces, not just the grand, prominent ones like theaters, but plazas, parks, alleyways, storefronts, sidewalks, even blank walls. Unique outdoor media, public art, artistic lighting, dynamic signage and installations, and whimsical bike racks enliven the District and allow everyone to experience art from one end of the neighborhood to the other.

The Trust’s superior venues and gallery spaces provide spaces and facilities that allow hundreds of resident companies, arts organizations, community organizations, artists, and promoters present their work and reach audiences large and small. Preserving what we have created will help ensure that the Trust and all the arts groups that call the Cultural District home will remain vibrant and resilient members of the region’s cultural scene.

As Pittsburghers, we love our neighborhoods. And because we love them, we know that they need to be protected and nurtured. Pittsburgh’s Cultural District is no different. Much has changed for the better in 35 years, but that progress requires and deserves preservation.

Together we must protect the transformative work of the past three and a half decades and ensure that the Cultural District – and by extension, Pittsburgh itself – remains strong and viable.

You – patrons, volunteers, festival-goers, donors, corporate sponsors, foundations, community partners, Downtown workers, visitors, and residents who enjoy this revitalized neighborhood – are the key to ensuring our future. Your patronage and generosity over the years have made the Cultural District what it is today. Your support of the Cultural Trust now, in this time when it is needed most, will help to ensure that the vision of the original band of dreamers is carried on now and for the generations who will follow you.

While our this current health crisis presents a very serious situation for arts centers across the country, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will survive. So much work has been done since our founding in 1984 to build up the Cultural District into a world-class destination. Even during this pandemic, we cannot and must not backslide, undoing all we have worked so hard to accomplish over the past thirty-five years.

Our Promise to You

All donations to Art Connects Us: A Critical Fund for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will help ensure that the Trust and all the arts groups that call the Cultural District home will remain vibrant and resilient members of the region’s cultural scene.

It is our promise to you that when it is safe to do so, the Trust will be ready to reopen our venues and welcome you back to the Cultural District. Together we will reconnect for shared arts experiences that we have grown to love and that have become the fabric of our arts community.

Thank you for considering a gift to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and for all you continue to do for the arts in Pittsburgh!

Give Now ➤

If you would prefer to make your gift offline, please contact us at or 412-894-4201.

You may also mail a check directly to the Trust with "Critical Fund" in the memo. Please mail it to:

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Development Department
803 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

We can also talk to you about making a planned gift, making a gift of stock, giving through your donor advised fund, IRA, workplace, United Way, and more.

The official registration and financial information of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.