During former mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s term, he created ArtPGH, which is part of a 25-year comprehensive plan for the city of Pittsburgh.
ArtPGH encourages public art in the city and involves artists in designing public space.
It seems as if Bill Peduto has some artistic shoes to fill, but the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) thinks he is already making great strides.
Mitch Swain, GPAC CEO, and David Pankratz, GPAC Research and Policy director, were asked to take part in Peduto’s Transition Team, which was tasked with submitting about five suggestions for the city.
Pankratz said one of his recommendations, called Creative Place Making in Our Neighborhoods, would renovate open, empty spaces.
“To refurbish some of those facilities and spaces very much involving the artists and cultural traditions in ways that make for art-focused development but then have spin offs in terms of attracting new businesses, entrepreneurs and such as that,” Pankratz said.
Swain said Peduto is interested in redeveloping neighborhoods, and that will create opportunities for arts and cultural organizations and individual artists.
“Often times artists and small arts organizations are the first people kind of willing to step into a blighted neighborhood and start to redevelop it,” Swain said. “And as a result, more people start to show up to attend their events and exhibits, things like that, and all the sudden a coffee shop opens next door.”
He said they see a strong opportunity to help revitalize neighborhoods through educational programs, arts experiences and creative programs for both kids and adults.
According to Swain, Peduto plans to remove the portraits of all previous mayors and instead install art created by local artists.
“He’s asked us and a few other organizations to help him to put local art on the walls, so to speak, of the mayor’s office and his conference room,” Swain said. “So I think that’s going to be a great opportunity not only to show off the work, but then he’d like us to help him to sell the work.”
He said he believes the portraits of the mayors will be installed in other parts of the city county building.