Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council announces 'dynamic' new CEO

The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council is thrilled to announce the appointment of Patrick Fisher as its next CEO. Fisher, who most recently served as executive director of Erie Arts & Culture, succeeds Mitch Swain who announced his plans to retire in August 2022. 


“I'm incredibly excited about immersing myself in both Pittsburgh's arts community and the community at large,” says Fisher. “Pittsburgh is a city with a tremendous amount of talent, a remarkable number of arts-based assets, and a strong reputation of being supportive of the arts.”


During his five-year tenure as the leader of Erie Arts & Culture, Fisher gained accolades for his work championing artists and boosting the city’s growing arts community including: establishing an artist residency program with a focus on pairing visiting artists with local industry; securing over $1 million in grant funding; overseeing the creation and installation of more than 65 new public art assets; and, developing a five-year strategic plan focused on capacity building, lifelong learning, and placemaking and placekeeping.


Patrick is a tireless advocate for valuing the work of artists and creating connections between artists and the larger community,” says Laura Domencic, executive director of the Erie Art Museum. “He will infuse his unique perspective and energy into the vibrant Pittsburgh arts scene.”


A graduate of Northwood University and Penn State University, Fisher was named to Erie Reader’s “40 under 40” in 2020 for his work not only as the leader of Erie Arts & Culture, but for his role in organizations that “ensure culture and creativity are woven into the fabric of everyday life.” The Erie Times-News also named Fisher as their “Person of the Year” in 2019.


Before his role at Erie Arts & Culture, Fisher served two years in Florida as the community and collaboration manager of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville where he was also named to the Jacksonville Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” in 2018.


Sandra Solomon, who serves on the Arts Council’s board of directors and led the competitive nationwide hiring search committee which included feedback from the board, Swain, and the current Arts Council staff, calls Fisher “dynamic.” Board chair Dr. Veronica Morgan-Lee, associate director of Hill Dance Academy Theatre, agrees.


“His professional experiences will be assets in addressing the needs of independent artists and creative organizations as they continue to recover from the pandemic, as well as engaging local and regional organizations in transformative policies, practices, and procedures that inform and create equity and inclusivity for all artists,” says Morgan-Lee. 


Advancing inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility within the creative and cultural sector have been central to Fisher’s career. 


“I believe heavily in challenging inequitable systems and recognize the responsibility that organizations like the Arts Council have to lead by example and re-evaluate policies, procedures, and programs through the lens of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility,” says Fisher. “I believe strongly in the role artists serve in society and the value they bring to their communities — and look forward to examining thoroughly how we can continue our efforts to more inclusively and equitably resource and support the individuals and organizations who represent Pittsburgh's expansive arts community.”


Fisher also comes to the Steel City with the support of artists he worked with in Northwestern Pennsylvania, including contemporary artist Sarah Jacobs.


“Patrick Fisher is a passionate advocate for working artists and a leader focused on results,” says Jacobs. “He has aided many artists, including me, by offering encouragement, work, key introductions, and grants. He will undoubtedly improve the lives and careers of Pittsburgh creative professionals, and the city is lucky to get him.”


Swain, who’s served as CEO of the Arts Council since 2005 when the organization was created by a merger of ProArts and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance, will officially leave his position when Fisher begins his new role on June 1.


“I think Patrick is the right person to lead the Arts Council into the future. He brings energy, ideas, and fresh new perspectives at a time when they are needed,” says Swain. “I'm excited to watch the future trajectory of the Arts Council under his leadership.”



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