Pittsburgh’s Candidates for Mayor Open Up about the Arts

Earlier this year, we talked with the 2021 candidates for mayor of the City of Pittsburgh about the importance of the arts and culture economy in their administration. The election is just days away on November 2nd, and Democrat Ed Gainey and Republican Tony Moreno are vying for one of the most important roles in the city. How have the arts impacted their lives, and will this impact their administration if elected?

Ed Gainey and Tony Moreno
Mayoral Candidates - Democrat Ed Gainey and Republican Tony Moreno

The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council followed up with each candidate to learn more about how the arts will impact their administrations. The Arts Council does not endorse any political candidate.

Editor’s note: Responses are listed as submitted by each candidate. The Arts Council did edit the responses for punctuation and grammar. We reached out to candidate Tony Moreno’s campaign for participation in this Q&A but did not receive a submission.

What is your vision for the role of the arts in your administration, if elected?

Gainey: If elected mayor, I'm committed to building on successful collaborations with arts and culture stakeholders to ensure that the City of Pittsburgh remains an open and supportive partner to artists, arts organizations, and those who work in the industry, including continuing investment in, and emphasis on, public art in the civic design process, supporting arts organizations and events that knit art and artists into the fabric of our communities and our regional economy, and focusing on vibrancy of the Cultural District as well as the neighborhood arts districts throughout our city. Experiences with the arts can have impacts on us in unusual and unexpected ways.

Moreno: Arts will be promoted as a basis for education for all ages. Arts will be available and supplemented in early childhood environments, neighborhood communities, and senior centers if requested by those institutions. This would not only provide work for the artists but also a pleasant experience for youth and more mature residents. Just as local schools send their marching bands to places like Kennywood, local music programs would be encouraged to travel to entertain throughout the city. The opportunity to perform provides an experience like no other, according to my stepson. Additionally, musical performances are a wonderful blessing to those who watch and listen to them.

Experiences with the arts can have impacts on us in unusual and unexpected ways. Tell us about an experience you’ve had with the arts that impacted how you think about the world.

Gainey: I draw deep inspiration from the art that I encounter in our neighborhoods, and often think about public art and murals when I'm preparing to speak. The Black Lives Matter mural in Larimer, which I drive past most days, has been a point of inspiration for me during this campaign and reminds me of the importance for fighting for justice for all Pittsburghers.

Moreno: My stepson had been a drummer since he was 8 years old and music has always been an outlet for him to express himself. We lived through his experience of application and audition for acceptance to CAPA as a drummer. Thankfully he was accepted, and the world opened up for him in ways we were not aware could happen. Not only did he experience attending a school for the arts, but he was also in an environment with so many other children just like him. He was never interested in sports and in his previous school, there was pressure (from the school) to get involved in sports. That environment (previous to attending CAPA) was uncomfortable for him. At CAPA, I saw how a love of music was a catapult for those students to not only continue to learn about music, but the music program was largely led by the students. That was amazing to me, and I then began to have an even greater appreciation for music and the leadership opportunities a performing arts institution has to offer. I now recognize how music and the arts offer a serious means of opportunity, development, and even leadership. Music is something an individual may take with them anywhere in the world and make a living. Additionally, having an outlet for self-expression and mental escape into a tranquil environment is a blessing. I will place music and the arts with as high of a priority as the "Eds & Meds" this city promotes. I am pleased that many people are now saying "Eds, Meds, and Arts" with regard to the world-class programs we have in Pittsburgh.