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Cultural District Stories

We asked our supporters, volunteers, artists, and friends to think about what it is like to experience the arts in the Cultural District. Here they share their stories of what the Cultural Trust means to them, why they patronize the arts, and why they give.

If you have your own story, and want to ensure brighter days ahead, we need your help.

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The arts make us feel included.

We visit the Cultural District to escape from the day-to-day and enjoy an immersive theater experience where we are part of the story. Our PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh subscription provides us our much-needed nights out. It allows us to focus on the numerous activities and restaurants Pittsburgh has to offer and to share those experiences with our friends and family. To feel included in something as diverse and wonderful as Pittsburgh’s Cultural District is to enjoy a broader view of the world.

—Mark and Amy Mendicino, Circles Board Members

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The arts make me feel I belong.

As a Deaf artist and patron, the Cultural Trust has been an organization that I depend on to advance accessibility in organizations. Not only have they shown motivation to make all of their programs accessible to Deaf and Disabled Patrons, they do so by including the Disability community in their plans to create a strategy that works.

—Fran Flaherty, Artist

Photo by Grace Roselli | Instagram: @gracerosellistudio | | #pandorasboxxproject

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The arts make me feel excited.

I visit the Cultural District because it’s an opportunity to create lasting memories with my family and friends. I remember the excitement I felt for weeks in anticipation of taking my son to his first Children’s Festival in 2019, specifically to see Sons of Mystro perform. Although my son was just under two at the time, our first mother and son outing in the Cultural District is a memory I will always treasure.

—Bethany Miller, Partners Board Member

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The arts make me feel happy and great.

I felt so happy when I saw Paw Patrol Live at the Benedum and Daniel Tiger Live at the Byham. I like seeing what the different characters do. The music in the shows makes me want to practice singing and dancing at home. I go to the theaters because I love seeing different shows and learning new stories. I really want to see Hamilton next year, but I hope my mama will take me to as many shows as she can. 

—Lizzie Neu, Arts Patron and Fundraiser

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The arts makes me feel.

By participating in the cultural arts community, I am transformed and transported to places I did not even know existed. An art exhibition can make me wonder and think, while a symphony or dance production can bring me to tears. I visit the Cultural District to grow inside myself and with the world around me. I would be less fulfilled, in a multitude of ways, without its existence.

—Julie Ann Sullivan, Pittsburgh Dance Council Advisory Board Member and Partners Member

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The arts make me feel empowered and uplifted.

After the Camille A. Brown & Dancers performance, presented by the Pittsburgh Dance Council (PDC) in partnership with the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, I met Ms. Brown for drinks along with friends, Staycee Pearl of PearlArts Studios and PDC Advisory Board member Garfield Lemonius. We had a wonderful talk about Ms. Brown’s work and where her journey has taken her as a Black female choreographer. It was a more personal "talk back" than usual. I visit the Cultural District because it is there that I can experience live performance and connect with friends and fellow artists that create social change through their work.

—Richard Parsakian, Pittsburgh Dance Council Advisory Board Member and Circles Member

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The arts make me feel happy.

It was really fun getting to listen to people talk about how they use writing in their jobs. I learned from this camp that writing is used in many jobs.

—Eli Lasus, Virtual Writing Camp Student

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The arts make us feel that our city is very much alive!

They add an important dimension to our lives by providing the opportunity to experience and enjoy so many different forms of the arts. From Cabaret to Broadway, from the Pittsburgh Dance Council to Liberty Magic, there are such wonderful programs to keep us enlightened and entertained. The quality is equal to anywhere in the world and the family atmosphere makes us appreciate our home town even more. We love the energy created by the crowds at the Cultural Trust events.

—Lynne & Blair Jacobson, Circles Members and Trust Subscribers

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The arts make me feel happy!

I love attending performances to escape to the world of music, dance, drama and fun. Mondays at the Cabaret start off the week with great entertainment, and the festivals open up this world to our communities. I miss being able to share dinner and events with my family and friends in our beautiful Cultural District.

— Phyllis Kokkila, Circles Board Member

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The arts give me the freedom to explore different cultures.

My love for the arts gave me a desire to become a volunteer usher for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Over the years I have immersed myself in the arts. I look forward with anticipation when the doors open and I can usher. I hope the Trust will always be there for all of us to enjoy.

—Shawna Bridgett, Trust Volunteer

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The arts make me feel like a teenager again.

The Cultural District to me represents the thrill of leaving your everyday life and going to a new and interesting space to see, hear, or feel something special. That same feeling of getting out of homeroom to take a high school bus trip to the Benedum still stands as an adult, the idea that in your own small city there's this gateway to another world.

— Josh Verbanets, singer/songwriter

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The arts make me feel relaxed.

I feel relaxed because each show allows me to forget about everything else that is going on and to focus on the music and plot of each show. I find myself listening to the soundtrack the next few days after the show to remind myself of the experience.

— Greg Erdely, Trust Volunteer

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Support the Critical Fund. Make a gift now ➤

Have a Cultural District story? Share it with us ➤

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.