Pittsburgh has vastly changed from what once was known as the “smoky city,” covered in smoke and grit, to a city that is open, architecturally diverse, young, and thriving. Pittsburgh has become a leader in the technology, energy and medical fields which has attracted transplants from across the country to work in and live in Western Pennsylvania. It has managed to diversify its economy away from an over reliance on manufacturing while preserving its industrial heritage.
As Pittsburgh continues to implement programs like the Propel Pittsburgh Commission, an initiative developed by the city to give a voice to young careerists living and working in the city, we can expect to see more population growth spurts in the region. Furthering this commitment to growth, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl put forth several efforts to retain college graduates by asking them to ‘pick’ Pittsburgh in 2012. For the last three years the city has been showing a strong number of increases in population. In terms of the arts and culture fields, it cannot be denied that the liveability of the city has more artists moving and settling in Pittsburgh to pursue their craft. Nationally speaking, here at Treading Art, we believe Pittsburgh is a city for America to keep its eye on while it continues to make broad strokes towards the top.
While some artists sell and create their work strictly within the city, others live part time between here, New York or even D.C.. Printmakers such as Just Seeds, a national artists co-op based out of Pittsburgh, and Tugboat Printshop, a young family whom work out of their home in Lawrenceville, sell most of their work online and at print shows. With the increase in the creative population came underground movements and groups such as the musical pioneers behind VIA. VIA is a group of artists and musicians who host several events throughout the year and an annual music and new media festival. VIA was voted # 4 in the world on Residential Advisors: Top 10 October Festivals. Galleries such as CMU’s Future Tenant can be found pulling from the local bank of artists for their exhibitions and programs which produced 8 visual art shows, 9 performing arts programs and 7 one night only events, including their annual fundraiser, in 2012.
It’s not just artists who are paving the way for creative business. Entrepreneurial groups like the Beauty Shoppe, a coworking space with networking resources, and the Hustle Den, a startup incubator, have popped up in East Liberty which was once a part of the city that was riddled with crime and poverty. Their programs provide space for young entrepreneurs to work, grow their companies and find mentorship. These young business men and women are finding value in collaboration and becoming the leaders of a new generation of creative businesses here in Pittsburgh.
The historical, community-driven endowments and grants are also furthering the strong push to revitalize Pittsburgh’s cultural scene and making it happen. The Sprout Fund has grant opportunities ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000. In 2012 they invested over $400,000 in Southwestern Pennsylvania and supported 55 different recipients. On a larger scale, The Heinz Endowments is responsible for giving away up to 60 million dollars a year and ranks among the 50 largest foundations in the country. The city’s commitment to one another doesn’t stop there either. On a grassroots level, Kickstarter funds seem to be having a lot of success; especially, for the local boys behind the Brew Gentlemen. They were able to earn $7,000 more than the pledged goal of $25,000. That is just one example of several Kickstarters based out of the Pittsburgh region.
Pittsburgh is happy to host the American’s for the Arts Convention this year and welcomes its attendees to explore our up and coming city.