How to advocate for the arts in Pittsburgh

Members of our arts community hold creative and unique perspectives on how to make our city great. But how can you make sure you're heard?

Asking public officials to support the arts is key to ensuring the continuation of arts-related funding and is an excellent way to make sure legislators know how important things like arts education, public art, and other artistic endeavors are to you and your community.

Three people stand smiling in front of a staircase inside the Harrisburg capitol building
Sen. Jay Costa meets with Arts Council CEO Mitch Swain and Director of Research and Special Projects Morgan Kasprowicz

Last month, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council went to Harrisburg to advocate for local artists during Arts Advocacy Day where CEO Mitch Swain and I joined arts advocates from Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, PA Humanities, and others to urge members of the PA Legislature to:

  • Uphold Gov. Josh Shapiro's recommendation to increase the grants to the arts line item to $10.59 million for FY23-24. This represents a $1 million increase from FY22-23!
  • Support the Pennsylvania Arts Education Association in seeking update to the Arts & Humanities standards.
  • Support the Pennsylvania State Task Force on Music Therapy in asking for Professional Licensure of Music Therapy.
  • Continue funding support for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

How can you help? We recommend writing your legislators in support of these asks via Citizens for the Arts in Pennsylvania's website.

Three people stand smiling for the camera
State Rep. Emily Kinkead (center) meets with Arts Council CEO Mitch Swain and Director of Research and Special Projects Morgan Kasprowicz

And, right here in Pittsburgh, we're also asking you to join us in letting our city government know how important the arts are to you.

Be heard during the City of Pittsburgh's 2024 Budget Public Engagement Period by registering to attend one of the following public budget hearings, where representatives from city departments will hear from community members in roundtable discussions:

  • Wednesday, May 17 at 6 p.m. 
    Phillips Recreation Center  
    201 Parkfield St., Carrick
  • Thursday, May 18 at 6 p.m. 
    Manchester Citizens Corporation Center 
    1319 Allegheny Ave., North Side 
  • Thursday, June 1 at 6 p.m.  
    Sheraden Senior Center  
    720 Sherwood Ave., Sheraden
  • Wednesday, June 7 at 6 p.m.  
    Homewood Senior Center  
    7321 Frankstown Ave., Homewood

On that same page, you can also complete the 2024 City of Pittsburgh Budget Survey.

Interested in helping, but unsure how you can advocate for the arts in a city budget? Here are a few ideas rooted in our research and conversations with arts stakeholders: 

  • Advocate for funds to be allocated to the capital budget for the department of Public Art, History, and Design (PHAD) to conserve or restore its public art collection. 
  • Encourage investment in development of additional affordable designated artist/live work spaces (of which Pittsburgh has fewer than 100 units).

Interested in learning more about arts advocacy? Sign up for our newsletters to be alerted on future advocacy efforts in Southwestern Pennsylvania.