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Golan Levin and Collaborators

Misc.

Cultural Trust can do better than stale Disney shows

Letter to the Editor
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Thursday 16 August 2007

Like many local artists, I was saddened to learn that the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has had to reduce its spending by $5.4 million this year, because of gambles gone wrong on big-ticket productions.

I was also bewildered, however, by the choices that led to those losses and by a cultural institution that pays for the privilege of hosting whichever stale Disney stage show has already toured every other midsize American city.

Given that we've entrusted the PCT to be our city's cultural steward, it's reasonable to ask how importing second-run mainstream McShows (like "Care Bears Live!" in 2005, "Beauty and the Beast" in 2006 or "Edward Scissorhands" in 2007) contributes in any way to a vibrant arts scene, advances new art or fulfills the responsibility of the Trust to the cultural enrichment of our community.

Instead of lining the pockets of corporate entertainment franchises, why not invest in arts locally, and grow Pittsburgh's cultural engine?

For the same money it shed to import second-run Broadway products ($400,000 per week!), the Trust could support or commission 10 times as many events of a smaller nature and bootstrap Pittsburgh's struggling arts community. Our city could gain a national reputation as a nurturing environment for pioneering artistic vision, instead of being just another stop on the "Lion King" tour. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust owes it to all of us to demonstrate some faith in Pittsburgh's artists and some faith in the curiosity and sophistication of the Pittsburgh audience.