If you haven’t visited artsburgh, you are missing out on much more than the charm of a clever portmanteau.
Go to artsburgh.org, a one-stop-shop calendar website run by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, and be ready to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of arts and cultural offerings in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Included on the well-organized site are about 350 listings of workshops, openings, performances, classes, lectures and festivals — in short, an art seeker’s dream.
“Up until this point, there was no one-stop-shop for the arts community,” explained Jennifer Saffron, director of communications for GPAC. Prior to the advent of artsburgh, she said, arts enthusiasts would have to check five or six different websites in order to learn what was going on around town at any given time.
Launched about a year and a half ago, artsburgh, which promotes the events of approximately 200 local arts and cultural providers, is a “great equalizer” of for-profit and non-profit arts organizations, as all providers get the same marketing opportunities, according to Saffron. “A small theater company gets the same treatment as the CLO.”
Even a cursory look at artsburgh reveals there is a lot going on in the Steel City when it comes to arts and culture, and GPAC has the statistics to back that up. Analytical research the organization conducted shows there are “more artists per capita in Pittsburgh than in other cities our size,” Saffron said. “There are so many people making art in our region.”
And artsburgh is making it easy to find those art-makers.
Click on “Performance,” for example, to see what’s coming up in the genres of dance, music, musical theater, opera and theater. Click on “Visual,” and see the array of options for crafts, exhibitions, film, photography and public art. Users can filter their searches by outdoor activities, or “great for a date,” or “fun for the family.” And, by using the “Access” tab, people can find events that are friendly to those with disabilities, including hearing impairment.
“You can bump into stuff you didn’t even know existed,” Saffron said.
Any arts organization — or any organization offering an art-related activity — can create a profile and begin to populate artsburgh with information about its events. The site is moderated, though, so that events posted are “appropriate,” Saffron said. While the content of events is not censored, the moderator does ensure that programs listed are indeed arts events.
Also available on artsburgh is a tab listing special deals and discounts, and the opportunity to purchase a “flexpass,” a $20 voucher that can be redeemed for tickets to any one of 21 different participating arts events vendors, including Front Porch Theatricals, the New Hazlett Theater, Pittsburgh Opera and Pittsburgh Playhouse.
Flexpass is a “unique” opportunity in Pittsburgh not yet available in other cities, said Pittsburgher Amy Kline, senior client support manager at Showclix, and the developer of flexpass.
The “dual purpose” of flexpass, Kline explained, is to “introduce new art forms and organizations to an already arts-friendly public,” and to help arts organizations “build their own audiences.”
“It’s a collective impact model,” Saffron added. “We are trying to get organizations to realize that, in reality, they are not really competing for audiences. When someone has a positive experience at any arts event, they are four times more like to go to another arts event. By working together, we can lift all the boats.”
Artsburgh is just one function of GPAC, which also provides financial, professional and political support for more than 400 diverse artists and nonprofit organizations in the region, including legal and business consulting, networking and professional development opportunities. PJC