Phil Cynar

This post first appeared on the blog of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, a sister organization to the focuses on business development. Get the PRA’s updates delivered to your inbox here

Pittsburgh will always be known as the “Steel City,” but a visit to the town now reveals a fresh new identity as a hub for innovation, arts and culture. That is what Yahoo News reported when its Global News Anchor (and broadcast journalism icon) Katie Couric took a look at the technology and innovation revitalizing the iconic Rust Belt city for the latest stop in her series, “Cities Rising: Rebuilding America.”

“It wasn’t steel that built Pittsburgh, it was innovation,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto in the 12-minute mini-documentary – noting that even during steel’s heyday in the region, it was innovation behind the steel-making that allowed it to grow to a global scale industry.

The same drive has created a hub of game-changing robotics expertise in Pittsburgh now that is on par with the claim to fame that steel once provided. Yet, in spite of all of its brain power, Pittsburgh has not lost its human touch. It continues to nourish arts and culture as it did – even during its darkest economic times – because it recognized that the arts bring richness and quality of life (for both natives and visitors). And with a similar mind to investment for a greater good, Pittsburgh is committing resources to revitalizing materials, people and communities that could be left behind.

If you’re a Pittsburgher or an ex-pat Pittsburgher, this documentary will make you proud. And if you’re looking at Pittsburgh, maybe for the first time, for a career or a soft landing destination to grow a business, Katie Couric’s “walk on the innovation side” of the fabled Steel City will let you see for yourself more than you might have imagined about this place: “a global center of innovation that will change the world.”


Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Written by Maya Henry

Thanks to Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh is the first city to be featured in Jaunt, the free mobile app that allows users to navigate a curated collection of our city’s historic and modern architecture. More than 105 entries are featured, from buildings to bridges to industrial sites, including the Emerald Art Glass House, David McCullough Bridge, Carrie Furnaces and Fallingwater.

The app features a map view based on the GPS of the user’s phone and a grid view to see an overview of everything offered. Content can be sorted by architect, date, location, status, style or use.

Each entry contains a detailed architectural description and, in some cases, photographs and design drawings. There is also a limited number of unbuilt projects—such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision for the Point—as well as demolished buildings such as the Civic Arena.

Jaunt_Grid“Sometimes things that don’t get built trigger discussion,” says Rami el Samahy, principal of the design firm over,under which created the app. “And with something like the Civic Arena, love it or hate it, if you weren’t here prior to 2012, you may know nothing about that building, so you can imagine that in less than a generation that will be gone. Yet it was a key piece of the Pittsburgh skyline and a true Pittsburgh story constructed of Pittsburgh steel and designed by a Pittsburgh firm.”

While the design firm over,under, is located in Boston, the Pittsburgh connection comes through Rami el Samahy, who until recently was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Architecture.

Pittsburgh is the first official Jaunt city, with Boston and Doha, Qatar to follow. Students from CMU’s Doha campus provided the information systems and designed the technology for the app but the designers wanted to start in Pittsburgh because of the amazing resources at the CMU Architecture Archives.

“It’s an exciting city to do, not an obvious choice,” says el Samahy. “Pittsburgh is a great city and has amazing examples of some of America’s finest architecture from all eras.”

Martin Aurand, architecture librarian and archivist at the CMU Architecture Archives, provided resources through the library to digitize original drawings and photographs that the public would not necessarily be able to easily access. He also provided “energy and knowledge” according to el Samahy, and much of the descriptive writing for the app.

Each description includes an “additional reading” section with recommended books and articles.

The team behind the app includes students from the CMU School of Architecture and from the CMU Qatar campus. Support for the project came from the Carnegie Mellon University Architecture Archives and the Berkman Faculty Development Fund.

Download the Jaunt Pittsburgh guide here.


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Powered by NEXTpittsburgh / Written by Jennifer Baron

After the last verse of Auld Lang Syne fades, it’s time to don an Elizabethan cape and learn to play Mölkky. A new year beckons, packed with everything from an urban recreational lodge to a silent disco.

Comedian Todd Glass
Comedian Todd Glass

1. Todd Glass at Arcade Comedy Theater: January 7 — 9

You might already know that Pittsburgh’s comedy scene is generating national buzz (see our recent feature to find out why). Whether you missed his sold-out appearance at last year’s Pittsburgh Comedy Festival—or you love his new book hilariously subtitled, A Bunch of Lies about My Personal Life and a Bunch of True Stories about My 30-Year Career in Stand-Up Comedy—you’ll want to grab tickets now to see Todd Glass. The Philly native—who got his start doing stand-up on Comedy Central—has attracted an international fan base via his popular podcast, The Nerdist Network, and stints on Tosh.0, Louie, Conan and Last Comic Standing.

Every Glass show is different, blending elements of improv, personal anecdotes and signature Glass witticisms. Packed with irreverent satire, explosive routines and plenty of squirm-in-your-seat audience interaction, Glass’s Arcade Comedy shows will be accompanied by Pittsburgh musicians James Rushin (piano) and Ross Antonich (drums). Make sure you’re in the audience for the hilarity, because Glass is working on new material for an upcoming comedy special to air in 2016.

Courtesy of Chatham Baroque
Photo Courtesy Chatham Barque

2. Chatham Baroque’s Twelfth Night Gala at The Ace Hotel: January 9

Can you say happy quadricentennial? Mark the end of 2015, the death of the Bard and Chatham Baroque’s 25th anniversary at one very chic and musical soirée. Don that “funereal cocktail attire” (think black netted chapeaus, sleek cloaks and wild wigs) and party like it’s 1599 at the group’s grand Twelfth Night Gala. For its 17th annual edition, the benefit bash adds a festive literary flair, paying tribute to the influence that William Shakespeare continues to have on the arts and culture since his death 400 years ago.

Kick off the winter night from 6 to 8 p.m. with a nod to Midsummer Night’s Dream during the VIP Oberon’s Feast catered by The Whitfield, followed by main event festivities from 8 to 11 p.m. Revelers will be treated to performances by Chatham Baroque and can bid on artwork in a silent auction curated by Jessica Beck of The Warhol Museum—all set against the backdrop of Pittsburgh’s newest boutique hotel. Performing locally and around the globe, Chatham Baroque features Andrew Fouts (baroque violin), Patricia Halverson (viola da gamba) and Scott Pauley (theorbo and baroque guitar) who bring technical prowess, period instruments and vibrant interpretations to 17th- and 18th-century music. Purchase tickets.

3. Pittsburgh Restaurant Week: January 11 – 17

Courtesy Pittsburgh Restaurant Week
Courtesy Pittsburgh Restaurant Week

Zagat just named Pittsburgh a #1 food city and this is your chance to see why. For its winter installment, Pittsburgh Restaurant Week celebrates “New Dishes for the New Year” with a kickoff party on January 7th, preview weekend January 8-10 and 50-plus dining destinations spanning seven days and the entire city—from Paris 66 to Avenue B. Helping to boost the local restaurant economy during a slower time of year, diners will enjoy special multi-course menus, cleverly priced $20.16 specialty items and prix fixe meals from area eateries—all while experiencing Pittsburgh’s eclectic neighborhoods and taking in the city’s dining landscape without breaking the bank.

Highlighting Pittsburgh’s numerous and diverse dining options, PRW also brings residents from the city and surrounding ‘burbs together to stroll the streets and see what delicious new dishes are on our gastronomical horizon. Get a first taste at Pittsburgh Glass Center during the PRW kickoff bash featuring festive cocktails conjured by Prairie, free samples from participating restaurants, charity raffles and tunes by DJ Digital Dave. View a complete schedule and a restaurant map.

Photo by Bryan Conley.
Photo by Bryan Conley.

4. Third Thursdays: BOOM! at Carnegie Museum of Art: January 21

Have you ever wanted to curate your own private disco inside a Parthenon-like hall surrounded by historic sculpture, giant plastic casts and installation art? This month, thanks to Carnegie Museum of Art’s (CMOA) creative new Third Thursdays series, you can do all of this and much more. Teaming up with artists from Garfield-based BOOM Concepts, the Oakland destination will dim the lights, turn up the volume and keep the galleries open late for a night of music and merriment amidst the museum’s world-class spaces. And NEXTpittsburgh is a proud media sponsor.

A huge hit in Korea, Brazil and Japan, the wireless headphone clubbing phenomenon dubbed “Silent Disco” is making its way to the Burgh. Don a set of headphones, tune into a channel, choose beats by DJs Christo (of Wiz Khalifa production fame) and EyeJay and dance the night way throughout the museum’s ornate Hall of Sculpture. Be among the first to see the new Teenie Harris exhibition, Great Performances Off-Stage, and take an “unconventional gallery tour” led by Sean Beauford, Joi Rogers, D.S. Kinsel and Julie Mallis. In between grooving and gallery roaming, check out the museum café’s new late-night menu. Register now.

Elizabeth Rudnick, You’re Not Real, I’m Real.
Elizabeth Rudnick, You’re Not Real, I’m Real.

5. Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District: January 22

For its first Gallery Crawl of 2016, The Cultural Trust’s quarterly showcase features a fun, free and jam-packed night of immersive art, music, performance, film and hands-on activities at 30 venues between 5:30 and 9 p.m. There are slew of art openings to hit, so we’ve got some not-to-miss highlights.

At Wood Street Galleries, Pastoral Noir features British artists whose immersive installations explore nature, haunted science and rural myths. Pop into SPACE to check out The Mountain and the Bumblebee, a group exhibit of contemporary art and poetry focused on the theme of landscape. At 707 Gallery, curator Sean Beauford presents Poison, a powerful look at relationships between drugs and urban communities, while Elizabeth Rudnick’s You’re Not Real, I’m Real uses cutting-edge and conventional media to explore anxiety and desire in the digital age. 709 Penn hosts Fran Flaherty’s Post-Erotica, which explores motherhood, along with Red & Green and Other Colors, an audio-video exhibit by Herman Pearl and Isabelle Strollo that dissects and distorts commercial images to reveal hidden mysteries. View a complete schedule.

Courtesy of The Rec Room
Courtesy of The Rec Room

6. The Rec Room: Winter Games at Spirit Hall: January 24

Winter Games

Move over Pyeongchang, there’s a new winter games in town. The perfect way to escape the cold, cure cabin fever and rethink Sundays (without having to trek out to Hidden Valley) is at this new bi-weekly, indoor game series cooked up by Weather Permitting, Pandemic, City of Play, Sweetwater Beer and Schell Games. For its inaugural edition at Lawrenceville hangout SpiritThe Rec Room features live music by Andre Costello and the Cool Minors and DJ Miss Mungo.

Games rotate each week, and will include unique parlor sports such as Bally, GaGa, Mölkky and Bucket Pong, plus new hybrid physical-digital games. Joust to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, steal blocks without getting caught in the light, scale the highest mountain around—which happens to resemble a sidewalk—and more. Enjoy music, beer, pizza and good-natured fun. You might even nab a cool award badge. While games are intended for adults, parents and children are welcome to attend together. Cost: $10.

FUSE@PSO. Photo by Wade Massie.
FUSE@PSO. Photo by Wade Massi

7. FUSE@PSO at Heinz Hall: January 27

Been hearing the buzz about FUSE but have yet to catch one of the hip hybrids at Heinz Hall? The fresh new can’t-miss series returns to kick off 2016 with a mash-up concert exploring American identity through music. The “Dean of American Composers” meets introspective indie folk when FUSE merges the sounds of Aaron Copland and Bon Iver. For its latest installment, series creator and PSO conductor Steve Hackman will reinvent Copland’s renowned 1944 orchestral suite, Appalachian Spring, alongside the contemporary music of Justin Vernon’s Grammy Award-winning indie folk group, Bon Iver. The unique sonic landscape of pastoral, textured and contemplative music will also feature the PSO and guest vocalists Avery Leigh Draut, Will Post and Keren Tayar.

Ramping up the energy will be a special guest appearance by Pittsburgh’s own Beauty Slap, who will perform special arrangements of their songs with the symphony and wrap up the night with their beat-and-brass heavy electronic dance music. The PSO is also debuting its new FUSE+ package offering select classical concerts and post-show experiences. Arrive at 5 for a happy hour in the tranquil garden, with pre-concert beats from local DJs, discounted drinks, snack fare and mingling with musicians and fellow music-lovers. The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. and is open seating with drinks permitted inside Heinz Hall. Check out Hackman’s blog to get a behind-the-scenes look at the conductor’s innovative artistic process and follow along as he develops upcoming concerts. NEXTpittsburgh is happy to be a media sponsor.  Purchase tickets.

8. Dada Masilo’s Swan Lake at The Byham Theater: January 30

Dada Masilo. Photo by John Hogg.
Dada Masilo. Photo by John Hogg.

Tchaikovsky’s 19th-century masterwork—one of the most popular ballets of all time—has been adapted by George Balanchine, inspired a Japanese anime flick and is the focal point of Darren Aronofsky’s chilling 2010 movie Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman. But on January 30th, ballet lovers will experience Swan Lake as they never have before. Reimagining the iconic ballet through a focused South African lens, the electrifying work showcases Masilo’s unconventional choreography and raw physicality, while frankly exploring intense emotions, scathing humor and issues of gender, sex, homophobia, apartheid and AIDS.

In Masilo’s world, the traditional and the contemporary collide, bursts of Tchaikovsky merge with African rhythms, a gay prince and barefoot male dancers in tutus populate the story and stereotypes are smashed. An explosive fusion of classical and African dance, the work showcases Masilo’s unique high-speed style while offering a refreshing new take on the venerated dance form of ballet. A star on the international dance scene, Dada Masilo grew up in the impoverished Johannesburg township of Soweto, studied dance in South Africa and Brussels and founded her own company in 2008. Contains nudity. Purchase tickets.

Courtesy of The Great Pittsburgh Spelling Bee.
Courtesy of The Great Pittsburgh Spelling Bee.x

9. The Great Pittsburgh Spelling Bee at The Irma Freeman Center: January 30

Quick, can you spell antediluvian? Dust off your dictionaries, brush up on those affixes and channel your inner Akeelah Anderson because The Great Pittsburgh Spelling Bee is back. A celebration of the age-old art of spelling words—before the days of Autocorrect and Siri—the homegrown bee is calling all wordsmiths and budding etymologists to join fellow language lovers for an evening of good-natured competition and community spirit. You’ll be spelling for a great local cause since all proceeds benefit the Gay and Lesbian Community Center and Irma Freeman Center for Imagination. Reviving the beloved pastime are organizers Mark Sepe and Erin Oldynski, who are also judging the bee along with Peter Kosloski.

Spellers will vie for a top prize of $50 while second and third place winners will receive special awards. With a sliding scale entry fee of $5-$10 for participants, this bee is accessible to all budgets. Have the chops to compete? Register as a speller today (note: the bee is primarily for adults, but all are welcome to participate). Not the best speller, but want to watch the fun? The event is free for audience members and refreshments will be served.

Courtesy of the Heinz History Center.
Courtesy of the Heinz History Center.

10. Yoi! Remembering Myron Cope at the Heinz History Center: January 31

Practice your best yoi!, double yoi!—and even a resounding triple yoi!—grab that Terrible Towel and head to the History Center to celebrate the life and legacy of the one-and-only Myron Cope. The Strip District destination is calling all Cope devotees to an afternoon of all things Myron. Learn all about this true Pittsburgh original during a multimedia presentation featuring rare archival material donated by Cope’s family and hear a talk by legendary New York Times sportswriter and Squirrel Hill native Murray Chass. Count down to Super Bowl 50 and honor the “voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers” on the heels of what would have been Cope’s 87th birthday. Event emcee is famed sports broadcaster Bill Hillgrove, who will share his favorite Myron Cope stories.

If you were a child in Pittsburgh during the 1970s and 1980s, you likely have the four short words “Myron Cope on sports” etched in your brain. Cope’s distinctive, inimitable Pittsburgh accent—heard ’round the world—was paired with a level of enthusiasm rarely seen in the broadcast booth. Along with names like Heinz, Strayhorn and Warhol, Cope is a larger-than-life figure beloved by locals and the Pittsburgh diaspora alike. Née Myron Sidney Kopelman in 1929, Cope attended Taylor Allderdice and Pitt and became the first football announcer inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. The event runs from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and is included with museum admission (free for members).

Because all good lists must come to an end, we give you our not-to-miss honorable mentions for January: 

Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art.
Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art.

The Galaxy Ball at the August Wilson Center presented by True T Entertainment and The Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force: January 16

Pittsburgh Speaker Series featuring Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Heinz Hall: January 20

Some Brighter Distance at City Theatre Company: January 23 – February 14

Architecture lecture by Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group at Carnegie Museum of Art: January 28

Cesar Millan at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts: January 28

Looking for live music? Check out NEXTpittsburgh’s 10 can’t-miss Pittsburgh concerts in January feature.

Looking for family activities? Read its Top Family Adventures this January in Pittsburgh feature.

While the Christmas Market in Market Square packs up on Dec. 23, there’s still plenty going on Downtown before the big Dec. 31 First Night Party. Check out displays at Oxford Center, the tree at the City-County Building, U.S. Steel Plaza’s bigger-than-life nativity scene, the Spirit of Giving Display of Santas from around the world and more. Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership has more details.

And given the balmy weather, why not get around via the nifty bike share program It only costs a few bucks, and bike stations are all over the city.

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Powered by NEXTpittsburgh

Written by Jennifer Baron

June is this writer’s favorite month, with its lush greens, idyllic temps and promise of summer. As we make the most of long daylight hours, welcome the summer solstice and celebrate all of the dedicated dads out there, June is also the perfect time to rediscover the city’s communal spaces, recreational amenities and cultural gems. This month’s Top 10 is all about all things outdoors(y)—with festivals aplenty—so we hope to see you out there.

1. First Niagara Presents First Fridays at the Frick: June 5, 7 p.m.

Pack a picnic, grab friends and spread a blanket on the Great Lawn at the Frick Art & Historical Center. Toss in free live music under the stars and let that magical summer feeling take hold. For urban dwellers, securing a coveted spot for the highly popular series is a cherished summertime tradition. Kicking off the 2015 season is Canadian singer-songwriter and banjo player Old Man Luedecke. Hailing from Chester, Nova Scotia the two-time Juno Award winner released his latest album, I Never Sang Before I Met You, in 2014.

Mark your calendars now for the entire season: Carpe Diem Quartet on July 3rd, singer-songwriter Eleanor Friedberger on August 7th and Opek Plays Strayhorn on on September 4th.

Suggested donation: $5 per adult. Attendees are invited to arrive early and create a gourmet picnic with selections from The Café at the Frick.

Looking for more First Fridays fun? Mt. Lebanon kicks off their free series on June 5th and Brookline‘s Bash on the Blvd. continues on June 26th.


A (micro) history of world economics, danced.

2. A (micro) history of world economics, danced at the New Hazlett Theater, 7 p.m. 

Dance, theater and economics will converge at this one-of-a-kind Pittsburgh premiere. Working in close collaboration with 15 Pittsburghers with disabilities—along with 30 of their family members, friends and caregivers and 15 singers from the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, professional actors and an economic philosopher played by artist/activist John Malpede—world-renowned French director Pascal Rambert is creating the work as part of a residency with City of Asylum.

Conceived by Rambert at the peak of the European economic crisis, the production explores collective economic history via movement, theater and personal stories of diverse community participants—ultimately conveying how it has impacted people’s lives worldwide.

The free production coincides with the 25th anniversary celebration of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. Created for select international cities, the insightful work explores timeless questions about how economic value is created during times of great income disparity. Part of City of Asylum’s artist-in-the-community residency, the show strives to give voice to disenfranchised individuals and communities, create opportunities for civic engagement and empower the creative potential of Pittsburgh and its residents.

The event is free but an RSVP is required.

3. Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival: June 5 – 14

Where can you experience art as psychic healing and catch a free concert by L.A. songstress Jenny Lewis? Recently nominated by USA Today as one of the country’s Best Art Festivals, the 56th annual Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival (TRAF) fills downtown with world-class multi-disciplinary arts programming—including a signature artist market with 300+ vendors, children’s activities and plenty of festival food.

Festival-goers can experience public art as psychic healing while viewing Rudy Shepherd’s Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber, visit Michelle Illuminato’s Lost & Found Factory to watch artists recreate and return missing items to their owners and learn about Native Americans who perished between 1492 and 1600 in Fernando Orellana’s Confluence.

This year’s multiple stages feature everything from guitar god Richard Thompson and folk-rockers The Felice Brothers, to bluesy singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker and Alynda Lee Segarra’s Nola ensemble, Hurray for the Riff Raff.


Stroll down Liberty Ave. to see how artists activate downtown storefronts, including Community Supported Art’s Small Mall Pop-up Store and Matt Forrest’s Trophy Cam projections of the mystical Pennsylvania wilderness.

What else is new? For the first time in two decades, TRAF opened its juried visual art exhibition to artists living outside Pittsburgh, and the result is a multimedia group show featuring 41 works by 31 artists. Also new is a focus on literary arts, with programs featuring Jasiri X, Tameka Cage Conley, Dreams of Hope and others.And to mark its 50th anniversary, Pittsburgh Society of Artists will present Intr(au)spective, featuring 34 pieces juried by Freya Spira of the Met.

During TRAF’s closing weekend, don’t miss exciting B-boy style breakdance battles between the Hidden Characters and Get Down Gang.

Since this just a taste, be sure to check our events section for more details. View a complete TRAF schedule with maps and directions.

Full Bloom Dance Party_750

Courtesy of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.

4. Full Bloom at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater: June 6, 7 p.m.

Your passport to a spring fling with global flair is the Full Bloom Dance Party. Featuring cuisine, sounds and activities paying tribute to the artists of the Kelly Strayhorn’s World Stage, the benefit bash showcases the artistic vision and international companies the theater has introduced to Pittsburgh audiences.

Full Bloom is also a party with a purpose: all proceeds support the theater’s programming for families and youth in East Liberty.

Dress up or dress down, but come ready to dance. Ramping up the seventh annual edition will be the event’s first on-stage dance party. Get a colorful henna tattoo and then jump on stage as DJ Pandemic spins world beats. More of a wallflower? Have your fortune told in the Moroccan lounge, create a keepsake in the interactive photo booth and bid on cool packages from local businesses during the auction. In between grooves, savor refreshing Rock Bottom brews in the Bavarian Beer Garden and enjoy treats from Greek Gourmet, East End Food Co-op, Everyday’s a Sundae and Livermore.

Purchase tickets.

5. PRIDE Week: June 5 -14

Pride Week festivities across the state will be celebrated fresh on the heels of the one-year anniversary of marriage equality in Pennsylvania. From large festivals to after-hours clubs, here are just a few of the many Pride Week highlights:

June 5 & 6: Cafe Con Leche presents Orgullo! Pittsburgh Latin@ LGBTQ Pride at Bricolage Production Company. Pittsburgh’s first Latin Pride celebration will feature film screenings, workshops, music, food, community resources and more. Don’t miss the Pittsburgh premiere of the storytelling project and documentary The Gran Varones and a presentation by keynote speaker Bamby Salcedo.

June 12: Pgh Bro Club presents Ready. Set. Riot! at Cruze Bar. Celebrating the riotous, punk beginnings of contemporary queer culture, Sharon Needles’ Black Rainbow bash boasts “deranged performances by a coterie of marvelous and bizarre guests,” notably the not-to-miss winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 4. Open to ages 21 & up. 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. $12 advance ($15 at the door).

DJ Minx

June 12 – 14: Honchothon’s Pittsburgh Pride Weekend. Looking for more ways to spice up your Pride with an underground vibe? Honcho’s edgy three-day fest includes a men-only party at Club Pittsburgh and Hot Mass, a headlining event featuring Detroit’s DJ Minx and Chicago’s Steve Mizek at Hot Mass, the return of the Sunday boat cruise with disco DJs, and a Sunday night movie and pizza party at Spirit.

June 13 & 14: Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh presents Pittsburgh Pride in the Street, March for Equality and PrideFest. Commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City and reflecting the theme of “All You Need is Love,” Pride in the Street features Grammy-nominated songwriter and rapper Iggy Azalea on June 13th, and the March for Equality and PrideFest on June 14th. Free and family-friendly, the daylong PrideFest features 150-plus street performers, dance companies, drag queens and kings, musicians, food purveyors, and games and attractions.

The Delta Foundation’s choice to book Iggy Azalea has sparked controversy locally, leading to the creation of a Facebook page with 850-plus supporters who are criticizing and protesting the decision. Many in the LGBTQ community believe that prior statements made by the rapper are racist and homophobic. Learn more about these protest activities here and on the Garden of Peace Project Facebook page.

Mark your calendars now for Pittsburgh Black Pride taking place July 20 – 31.

Awards by Sandy Kaminski_750

CREATE awards by Sandy Kaminski.

6. CREATE 2015: Pittsburgh’s Art + Technology Festival: June 10 – 12, Wyndham Grand Hotel

We should dub June the Cultural District month, given the array of festivals, farmers markets and concerts taking place throughout the arts hub over the next 30 days. A first-of-its-kind art and tech mashup to add to your list is the much-buzzed-about CREATE 2015: Pittsburgh’s Art + Technology Festival, which boasts more than 50 events, workshops, exhibits, talks and interactive sessions.

Miki Agrawal_750

Miki Agrawal

Teaming up with the Three Rivers Arts Festival, CREATE will showcase regional innovation and connect Pittsburgh with global creative leaders. For the first time this year, national heavy-hitters will showcase their innovative products such as AT&T’s Virtual Reality Goggles and Hewlett-Packard’s Sprout, the world’s first immersive computer.

Featured presenters from Silicon Valley and beyond include Denise Jacob of Creativity Revolution, and Miki Agrawal, author of Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business, and Live Happily Ever After.

Representing Pittsburgh will be top creatives from local art, tech and community scenes. Festival-goers can experience a 22-foot immersive dome created by artist Ian Brill, attend Heather Knight’s robot comedy, take a maker workshop led by TechShop, watch game jams and much more.

View a full CREATE Festival schedule.

Courtesy of the Mattress Factory.

7. Mattress Factory Urban Garden Party, June 19, 7 p.m.

One year they built a half-pipe in the middle of the dance floor. Another year it was models who performed in a tub of milk. What’s in store for this year’s Urban Garden Party?

On one of the longest nights of the year, the anything-goes benefit bash salutes the 13th letter of the alphabet. Read: calling all magicians, mermaids and martians to the MF for music and mayhem. Dubbed M is for Mattress Factory, the shindig boasts a Michael Jackson tribute, magic shows by Baffling Bob, a Selfie Studios photo booth and performances by Meeting of Important People, Machete Kisumontao, DJs Orquidea and Mad Maxx and Tierra Darshell’s Divas of Drag.

Walking into the room-sized art installations at the Mattress Factory is akin to stepping into other realms, and the same can be said for its signature fundraiser—a place for where you and 1,400 other art lovers will commune for a night of stimulating arts entertainment and fare from a staggering lineup of 40-plus food vendors.

If you’re still standing on Sunday, June 21st, head back to the MF for the Community Garden Party, a free family-friendly celebration featuring hands-on activities and performances.

Purchase tickets.



8. Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival: June 19 – 21, Cultural District


Aaron Abernathy & Nat Turner Band.

Come late June, jazz sounds from around world will be heard throughout the streets, clubs and cafes of the Cultural District. From Afro-Caribbean rhythms and soaring vocals, to soul, funk and symphonic sounds—the 5th annual JazzLive Festival will showcase the breadth, depth and diversity of the genre.

While JazzLive is a major festival—some 15,000 fans attended last year—it still manages to retain a laid-back, intimate vibe. Presenting established and emerging acts in a variety of settings, this year’s festival focuses on artists with both international reputations and musical origins.


Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion.

Featured performers include Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion, Average White Band, Christian McBride Trio, Bebel Gilberto, Somi, Etienne Charles Calypso Review, Camila Meza, Sammy Figueroa’s Latin Jazz Explosion, Joey DeFrancesco, Aaron Abernathy & the Nat Turner Band, Craig Handy & Second Line Smith and more. Also not to miss is Song for My Father Reimagined featuring acclaimed drummer Roger Humphries and trumpeter Sean Jones interpreting the music of legendary jazz pianist and composer Horace Silver.

The free Jazz Crawl boasts 150 musicians, late-night club performances and spontaneous jam sessions. Festival-goers can also shop at the Showcase Noir African American Designer Market, pop-up Trust Vinyl record store and outdoor Night Market.

View a complete JazzLive schedule.

Make Music Pittsburgh_750

Courtesy of Make Music Pittsburgh.

9. Make Music Pittsburgh: June 21, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

In 1971 Cat Stevens sang jubilantly, “if you want to sing out, sing out,” which became the beloved theme song for Hal Ashby’s cult film Harold and Maude. The catchy tune could serve as the perfect call to action for a new initiative debuting in Pittsburgh on June 21st. Launching its first annual event throughout the city, Make Music Pittsburgh will showcase homegrown musical talents while inspiring one and all to play, sing and create together.

From hip hop in Lawrenceville and gospel in Highland Park, to bluegrass in Squirrel Hill and jazz in the Hill District—or kids playing the harmonica in Bloomfield—Make Music will create a live soundtracks for the Burgh’s sidewalks, parks and alleys. Organizer Jasmine Kurjakovic says that the day will also include performances by The Steel City Ukuleles, a mass harmonica ensemble, a documentary film project, collaborations with local music and neighborhood groups and more.

How does it work? Anyone can participate by either playing music outside, providing an outdoor space, volunteering or simply walking around and listening to concerts. Performers of all ages, levels and styles of music are welcome. Musicians can sign up to play and businesses and homes can sign up to host musicians outside of their locations. All the festival organizers ask is that the music is kept outdoors so everyone can enjoy it for free.

First held in France in 1982, Make Music will occur in some 750 cities around the globe on June 21, 2015. Ready to pick up a guitar or clarinet or host musicians? Sign up today and learn more here.

the lone bellow

The Lone Bellow

10. WYEP Summer Music Festival: June 27, 3 – 11 p.m.

Just 28 more days. Can we agree that summer is all about music under the stars? Good, then grab a blanket and your entire crew and head to Schenley Plaza for WYEP’s 18th annual Summer Music Festival.


Martin Sexton

Headlining this year’s free festival is American singer-songwriter and producer Martin Sexton. Winner of the 1994 National Academy of Songwriters’ Artist of the Year Award, Sexton has toured with Art Garfunkel, Jackson Browne and John Hiatt. His latest album, Mixtape of the Open Road, was released in 2015. Acclaimed for his wide vocal range and improvisational techniques, Sexton’s expressive music blends elements of soul, gospel, country, rock, blues and R&B.

Schenley Plaza

Courtesy of WYEP.

Also featured will be The Lone Bellow, an Americana trio featuring guitars, mandolin and vocals, and Nashville indie-rock band Kopecky. Underscoring WYEP’s commitment to pairing local and emerging talent with internationally known artists, the festival will also feature a set by Pittsburgh-based pop band Brightside.

Kicking off the festival at 3 p.m. will be local teen bands from WYEP’s Reimagination CD project. Families can also pop into the plaza tent to participate in hands-on children’s activities. Music starts at 6 p.m.

Because all good lists must come to an end, we give you our 6 very honorable mentions for June:

RAW Pittsburgh presents Splendor at Mr. Smalls: June 4
City Theatre Company’s Momentum 15 Festival: June 5 & 6
Open House events at The Clemente Museum: June 12 & 13
Vincent, A Special CMOA Theatrical Presentation at Carnegie Lecture Hall: June 13 & 14
Awesome Pittsburgh Foundation‘s “Awesome in Braddock” event at The Brew Gentlemen: June 15
London/Pittsburgh: Mark Neville at Silver Eye Center for Photography: June 26

Looking for music?

Check out our Sound Picks: 10 can’t-miss Pittsburgh concerts in June feature.


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Written by  Lauri Grotstein

At last year’s OpenStreetsPGH, Mike Carroll started his day with a Tai chi class, a different way of moving for him. Carroll, one of the event co-chairs, was one of 4,000 people downtown on bikes, roller blades, boards and on foot for the free event where a half-mile of Sixth Street was closed to cars.

“It was a snapshot to introduce the concept of OpenStreets to Pittsburgh,” he says. “This year, it’s really about connecting neighborhoods.”

When OpenStreetsPGH returns on May 31, for the first of three events, it will stretch a total of 3.5 miles, from Market Square up Penn Avenue through the Strip District and ending at Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville.

“We want to create a safe atmosphere for people to explore from neighborhood to neighborhood,” says Carroll, the event manager at BikePGH, the nonprofit that is spearheading the OpenStreets effort. “Families can bike the seven-mile round trip in about an hour. We are bringing the scale of the city down to people size.”

Three program hubs at Market Square, Bar Marco and Leslie Park in Lawrenceville will feature Tai chi, yoga, martial arts lion dancing and Zumba. Kids can play with giant Jenga sets, hula hoops, or do art projects. And there will be a rock climbing wall and juggling lessons.

Part of the big picture is to reimagine city spaces and how we use them.

“We tend to think of roads as a place to move our car from point A to Point B—or from parking lot to parking lot,” says Carroll, “but they can be used as a space for people to be active and healthy and check things out.”

“Our streets are public spaces and one of the most valuable assets in our communities,” says Scott Bricker, executive director of BikePGH. “OpenStreetsPGH is an opportunity for people to experience their streets in a new way.”

Like live music and dance lessons. Last year, Open Streeters could catch a swing or salsa class. One of Carroll’s highlights was dancing with his wife.

“The dancing brings that energy and community element we want at OpenStreets,” says Carroll. “We want people to come down—and when they leave, have a big smile on their faces.”

OpenStreets, which is now in more than 100 cities, is part of the global Ciclovia movement. Ciclovia—which means cycleway in Spanish—has its roots in Bogota, Colombia where they close the streets every Sunday for seven hours.

In Pittsburgh, plans are to close the streets the last Sunday of May, June and July from 8 a.m. until noon. There will be 12 intersections where traffic can cross.