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Identity & Community

"Smart Talk" Humanities Festival Coming to Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Carnegie Mellon University are joining forces to celebrate the humanities in March.

Smart Talk about Stuff that Matters is a humanities festival with a broad definition of humanities—knowledge of humankind and its works. The event will include speakers presenting ideas on everything from art, literature, and music, to science, and politics. 

“These speakers are all people who know how to engage with an audience, and they have not only important things to say, but interesting things to say—stimulating things to say, so people should think of it as not spinach, but cake,” said the director of the Humanities Center for CMU, David Shumway.

Bestselling author of “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books”, Azar Nafisi, will open the event at the Byham Theater. Other speakers include independent filmmaker John Sayles, art writer Sarah Thornton, and sculpture from Pittsburgh's own Vanessa German. There will also be a reading of Robert Myer’s play, “Twilight Country”, by Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins.

“Smart Talk about Stuff that Matters” runs March 26-29. The event costs $20 for an all event pass, $10 for students and $15 for the opening speaker. Most of the events will be held in the cultural district with the exception of a few speakers at the Warhol Museum.

“[I want] people go away feeling like they want more. They want it to happen again, and that’s our plan. We hope to be able to do this every year,” said Shumway.