Advocacy alert: Ask Pittsburgh City Council not to cut the ARPA “Support for the Arts” Funds

On Tuesday, August 1, Pittsburgh City Council is set to vote on a series of changes to its American Rescue Plan spending plan, including cutting $650k from the $2 million “support for the arts” line.

The City of Pittsburgh first promised $2 million in ARPA funds in support of arts sector recovery in July 2021. Many changes have been made to the City’s initial ARPA spending plans (including the “support for the arts” plan), but until now, the “support for the arts” fund has never been cut.

Resolution 1704 proposes reducing this line item to $1,350,000, cutting $650,000 from “support for the arts.”

Since late 2022, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council has urged the City of Pittsburgh to create an equitable and impactful plan to spend its “support for the arts” money, something our research has shown has been enacted in other cities. Publicly available records show that a much larger proportion of the City of Pittsburgh’s first two expenditures (reimbursements for 2022 Fourth of July and 2022 Light up Night) paid for fireworks ($96,125 or 66%) compared to the proportion spent on arts performances ($14,840 or 10%). The Arts Council is committed to continuing this conversation with the City, but we first need to ensure that we retain as much of this funding as possible.

What can you do?

Tell City Council that:

  • National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data shows that the arts were among the top hardest hit industries by COVID-19, and that, as of 2023, independent writers, artists, and performers as well as performing arts organizations have not yet returned to their 2019 revenue levels.  
  • 2022 Arts Council data shows that the percentage of local artists earning incomes below the federal poverty rate increased from 2018 to 2022, and that about three quarters of arts organizations had yet to see their audiences fully return to 2019 levels.  
  • According to preliminary findings from a PA Humanities and Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Spring 2023 PA CultureCheck survey, less than half (44%) of arts, cultural, and humanities organizations in Southwestern PA report that their attendance levels are back to or above that of 2019. In addition, another 23% do not expect attendance to return to 2019 levels until after 2024, if they do return to those levels.


Cultural Policy