Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Background and History 

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of 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 Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity.

Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts.

Since 1984, the Trust has restored historic theaters, constructed new performance venues, commissioned public art projects and developed unique urban parks and riverfront recreation spaces. As one of the largest Downtown Pittsburgh property owners, the Trust manages one million square feet of property, including:

The Trust encourages and presents diverse performing and visual arts programs. Its main programming divisions include:

About the Cultural District

During the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit, the international focus was on the David L. Lawrence Convention Center located in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, which is a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. This vibrant district sets the perfect stage for the international summit on economic recovery as a unique international model of urban revitalization through the arts and a paradigm for successful public-private partnerships. Once a blighted “adults-only” neighborhood known for sex shops, prostitutes and XXX-movie theaters, the Cultural District today attracts over 2,000,000 visitors annually generating an estimated economic impact of $303 million.

Pittsburgh’s third renaissance can be traced to H.J. “Jack” Heinz II, a founder of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Mr. Heinz envisioned a colossal transformation that would turn a city once called “hell with its lid off” into a thriving hub of world-class art and entertainment, buzzing with 24/7 activity. His vision was two-pronged: the arts could serve as a catalyst for economic, commercial and residential development of Downtown Pittsburgh, while enriching the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

When other U.S. cities abandoned their respective downtowns for strip malls and big-box stores, Pittsburgh’s Cultural District preserved its historical significance by leveraging the power of the arts to create an authentic destination that draws over two million visitors, arts lovers, students, residents and employers to over 1,500 events each year.

The District includes Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Symphony and August Wilson Center for African American Culture, among hundreds of other arts groups and artists. The Cultural District is also home to the city’s High School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Unlike other cities that house cultural activity within a single performing arts center, Pittsburgh’s Cultural District comprises 14 blocks that were holistically developed with the creation of multiple theaters, art galleries, public art projects, urban parks and riverfront recreation spaces.