Mayor Peduto: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts must be restructured | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Mayor Peduto: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts must be restructured

1993503_web1_PTR-ModuleHomes06-112719
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Nov. 26.
1993503_web1_gtr-liv-pghfilms-051019
Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media has closed the Regent Square Theater and stopped programming at the Harris Theater, Downtown, because of financial distress.
1993503_web1_ptr-pcam1
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
The Marshall Mansion at Fifth and Shady avenues in Pittsburgh’s East End.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the Pittsburgh Center for Arts and Media, which announced Monday it would close its main building at year’s end, must be completely restructured to secure sustainable funding for future operations.

Peduto, who briefed reporters Tuesday during an unrelated event in Garfield, said the city has worked for years with the organization to try to keep it afloat.

He said Monday’s announcement came as a surprise.

“They’ve been struggling for two years now,” the mayor said. “I did think, though, that we would be able to work with them on an extended lease that would give them a couple of years to restructure. I expect that it will come back in some form in the future.”

Christine Holtz, president of PCAM’s board of directors, announced the closure in a letter to members and supporters citing “crushing expenditures” needed for operations, maintenance and repairs. She announced the closing of the Regent Square Theater and programming at the Harris Theater in Downtown and that operations at its offices in the Marshall Mansion in Pittsburgh’s East End would cease by year’s end. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust owns the Harris Theater.

Hannah Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, wrote in an email that most employees have been laid off. She declined to give an exact number of layoffs.

“The majority of employees have been impacted, including those associated with Marshall building programs, the cinema program and other personnel commensurate with the elimination of those programs,” she said.

The organization is in line for a $230,000 award in 2020 from Allegheny Regional Asset District, according to Shannon Musgrave, RAD’s communications director, but Peduto said one-time funding won’t help.

“We’ve tried one-time revenue sources in the past,” Peduto said. “It hasn’t worked. What’s needed is a complete restructuring.”

The city owns the center’s headquarters at the Marshall Mansion, a former private home at the corner of Fifth and Shady avenues. Peduto said the city has provided the center with two options. The center can pay for building maintenance in return for discounted rent, or pay market-rate rent and the city would handle maintenance. The building has been the home of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts since 1945.

“Either one of those options is on the table, and I think that as other organizations look at that space and that mission, they may be able to make the numbers work,” he said. “It is our property. So is the zoo, so is the aviary, so is Phipps, but when any of those organizations would come under financial distress, it’s up to their board to be able to rectify that situation.”

The center’s closing came as a shock to local artists.

”Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is such a valuable asset for the city,” said Jo-Anne Bates of Point Breeze, whom the center named an artist of the year in 2017. “This is a huge loss for Pittsburgh.”

Bob Bauder and JoAnne Klimovich Harrop are Tribune-Review staff writers. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, [email protected] or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.