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Arts, Sports & Culture

Pittsburgh Attracts Art Leaders with National Convention

The city of steel is becoming the city of art this week as 1,000 art leaders from across the country gather to discuss issues affecting artists, art-based development, arts organizations and creative industries.

Pittsburgh is hosting the Americans for the Arts (AFTA) Annual Convention June 14-16.

The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council will coordinate all of the convention’s performances and “ARTVenture” tours.

Council CEO Mitch Swain said AFTA was attracted to Pittsburgh because of its diverse art scene, especially with its cultural districts.

“Pittsburgh is a great art city and increasingly people are starting to see that," Swain said. "It’s helping to draw people here and it’s helping corporations to keep employees here and helping businesses to think about relocating here."

Swain said Thursday into Friday there will be three “pre-conferences.”

“They don’t normally do three pre-conferences, normally two; the third one is on cultural districts and they’re doing that here in Pittsburgh because we have some really great examples of that, most notable our Cultural District in Downtown and then also some other great neighborhood projects, as well,” Swain said.

According to Swain, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has turned the Cultural District into a model of how arts and culture can be seen as allies to robust redevelopment.

“They’ve really led the redevelopment of our downtown in many ways and shown other parts of our downtown that this is a good place to invest in, if you build it, they will come, and so over two million people now visit our Cultural District,” Swain said.

There will be eight “ARTVenture” tours where the attendees will board buses to experience Pittsburgh’s African American culture, industrial past and “green” arts initiatives.

Swain said this conference will boost Pittsburgh economically and promote travel and business.

“The other benefit for Pittsburgh is for Pittsburghers themselves … to gain a better understanding of how important it is to have something like this in this area particularly as we’re trying to draw in more people and younger people to come and move here, live here, work here,” Swain said.

Americans for the Arts has gathered art leaders for these conventions for more than 50 years, and the most recent ones took place in San Antonio in 2012 and San Diego in 2011.