Jazz, Art to Fill Downtown

May 31, 2012

Pittsburgh's Cultural District is home to too many an arts festival, and this year two of them are filling the same weekend. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's Three Rivers Arts Festival and Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival (PJLIF) will be in full force beginning Friday in downtown Pittsburgh.

Derek Scalzott, spokesman for the Three Rivers Arts Festival, said the 53rd annual event has changed throughout its life, but it has also stayed the same in many ways.

"Year over year we highlight some different things, but we always want to have emphasis on both the visual and performing art and do everything we can to represent different genres within those different categories and make sure we have something for everybody," Scalzott said. "Most importantly, we make sure we can do it and offer it free and to anyone in the public."

Scalzott said the Three Rivers Arts festival is expanding its "artists' market" and featuring new musical performances.

A program also organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival (PJLIF), is only celebrating its second year.

Janice Burley Wilson, Director of Jazz Programs for the PJLIF, said three large stages will be set up on Friday and Saturday for free performances along Penn Avenue and 9th street downtown.

"We've closed down the streets," Wilson said. "There are stages strategically located so you can catch a little bit of one show, turn a corner [and] go catch a little bit of another show, and then by the time that show is ending, another show is starting."

In addition to the outdoor performances, a "jazz crawl" will take place on Friday throughout 30 locations in the Cultural District featuring 30 different performances. Admission to the crawl is free, but a purchase is recommended when seated in a bar or restaurant.

Wilson added this year's theme for the PJLF is geared toward families and youth.

"If you think about the music that you like, who taught you what was good?" Wilson said. "It might be someone in your family, but usually it's someone who is close to you, someone who cares about you who wants to expose you to something, and I think that's how musical tastes are passed down."