Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

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The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (PCT) is a nonprofit arts organization formed in 1984 promote economic and cultural development in Downtown Pittsburgh.[1] PCT owns and manages six theaters in the downtown arts and entertainment district,[2] including Theater Square and Harris Theater. The organization oversees more than one million square feet of real estate incorporating cultural venues such as a performing arts center and an arts education center.[3][4] In recent years the organization has had a contentious relationship with the city of Pittsburgh concerning the tax status for many of its properties, resulting in a case being heard by the state Supreme Court in 2011.[5]

As of April 2012, the PCT's president and chief executive officer (CEO) is J. Kevin McMahon, and in 2010, its net assets were valued at US$125,096,209.[1]


The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust was conceived by H. J. Heinz II, known as Jack Heinz. Heinz and other individuals, including his son, United States (US) Senator from Pennsylvania John Heinz, and William Rea, began with Pittsburgh's first renovated former movie palace, Heinz Hall, (which was built as the former Loew's Penn Theater). It was reopened after a complete restoration in 1971 as a new home for the Pittsburgh Symphony. The PCT was established in 1984 to promote Jack Heinz's desire for a centralized destination for arts and entertainment.

The Benedum Center (formerly The Stanley Theatre)

The PCT's first major project was the restoration of the former Stanley Theater. The Stanley Theater was originally designed by the firm of Hoffman & Henon and opened on February 27, 1928. Under the PCT's management, this theater underwent a $43 million restoration and reopened in 1987 as the 2,800-seat Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. That year, the PCT and its partners presented an annual Broadway series in the Cultural District.

The Byham Theater was another theater venue restoration project. Built in 1903 as the Gayety Theater, it included a stage and Vaudeville house, and featured stars such as Ethel Barrymore, Gertrude Lawrence, and Helen Hayes.[6] It was renamed The Fulton in the 1930s when it became a full-time movie theater. In 1990, the PCT bought and refurbished the theater. The Byham family of Pittsburgh made a major naming gift for a 1995 renovation, and it has been the Byham Theater since.

In 1992, PCT opened Wood Street Galleries, its first visual arts project. PCT purchased and refurbished a former XXX movie theater in 1995, and re-opened the 194-seat theater as the Harris Theater, which screens independent, foreign, and classic films.

In 1999, the PCT's 650-seat O'Reilly Theater opened as the permanent home of the Pittsburgh Public Theater. The same year, the 23,000-square-foot (2,100 m2) Agnes R. Katz Plaza was unveiled. The theater features a 25-foot (7.6 m) bronze fountain designed by sculptor Louise Bourgeois and the work of landscape architect Dan Kiley. Also during 1999, artists Robert Wilson and Richard Gluckman were selected by the PCT to create a series of public art projects in the Cultural District.

In 2000, PCT established Shared Services, a consortium including the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

PCT's first "President & CEO", selected by Jack Heinz, was Carol Brown, who managed the organization from 1986 until 2000. In 2001, J. Kevin McMahon was named President and CEO of the PCT.

The Byham Theatre (formerly the Gayety Theatre).

In 2002, Pittsburgh Dance Council became a programming division of PCT. PCT opened Theater Square in 2003, a 330,000-square-foot (31,000 m2) complex including the 265-seat Cabaret at Theater Square, a parking garage, centralized box office, restaurant and bar, and the Carolyn M. Byham WQED 89.3 FM remote broadcast studio. That same year, First Night Pittsburgh became a program of the PCT.

PCT presented the Quebec Festival and the inaugural Pittsburgh Festival of Firsts in 2004. It also turned an adult bookstore at 812 Liberty Avenue into SPACE, a gallery showcasing regional artists’ work, and purchased 937 Liberty Avenue to be utilized by local arts organizations as an office space and as a flexible performing and visual arts venue.[7] 2004 was also the first year the PCT organized a quarterly Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District, a free arts open house.

In 2005, the PCT purchased the property that would become home to the James E. Rohr Building, the Trust Arts Education Center. The PCT presented the Australia Festival in 2007. The Pittsburgh International Children's Theater and Festival became a programming division of the PCT in 2008. During that same year, the PCT presented the 2nd Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. In 2009, Three Rivers Arts Festival became a programming division of the PCT. As of 2010, the PCT's total revenue was publicly listed as US$46,610,700.[1]

On April 18, 2012, Kenneth Milani resigned from the position of chairman of the PCT's board. The organization's Executive Committee accepted the resignation from Milan, who had been chairman since 2005. Milani, the CEO of Highmark, had been charged in March 2012 with assault and trespassing; the incident involved the husband of Highmark employee, Melissa Myler, with whom Milani had been romantically connected.[8] Veronica Corpuz, spokesperson for the PCT, informed the media that the Executive Committee had appointed attorneys Carolyn Duronio and Chuck Queenan as Milani's interim replacement until a new chairman was found.[9]

External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Records [1](Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Records, 1926-2000, CTC.2000.02, Curtis Theatre Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh)


  1. ^ a b c "The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust". Charity Navigator - Your Guide To Intelligent Giving. Charity Navigator. 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  2. ^ "Explore Pittsburgh - Arts & Culture". Carnegie Mellon Undergraduate Admission. Carnegie Mellon University. 2005. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "About the Trust". Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. 2012–2013. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  4. ^ "World-Class Facilities" (Uploaded document on digital publishing platform). Trust Facility Map. Issuu Service. 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  5. ^ http://www.post-gazette.com/neighborhoods-city/2011/02/10/Pa-Supreme-Court-to-hear-appeal-on-cultural-trust-s-tax-exemptions/stories/201102100627#ixzz1olMegIt4
  6. ^ "Byham Theatre". Cinema Treasures. Cinema Treasures. 2000–2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Pittsburgh Cultual Trust Timeline url=http://pressroom.pgharts.org/the-pittsburgh-cultural-trust-timeline/". Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. 2014. 
  8. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (20 April 2012). "Melani resigns as chairman of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (18 April 2012). "Pittsburgh Cultural Trust committee accepts Melani resignation". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 22 April 2012.