Emerging Festivals & Cultural Events Fund

VisitPITTSBURGH’s Emerging Festivals & Cultural Events Fund Application Period is Now Open!

VisitPITTSBURGH is a tourism development organization dedicated to expanding the tourism economy across Allegheny County. For VisitPITTSBURGH, drivers of the tourism economy are broken into three categories: sports events, business events and leisure tourism. Leisure events, including festivals and public concerts and shows, are key factors in attracting visitation to the region.

With an aim to support the growth and expansion of leisure events in Allegheny County, VisitPITTSBURGH has developed the Emerging Festivals & Cultural Events Fund. This sponsorship program provides the opportunity for emerging Pittsburgh event organizers to apply for, and secure, funding support from VisitPITTSBURGH in a consistent and measurable manner.

Who is Eligible?

This fund is structured to help new events, or those existing events looking to enhance their current programs, that:

  • Take place in Allegheny County
  • Draw out-of-market visitation or have clear, outlined plans to draw out-of-market visitation


VisitPITTSBURGH funding should go toward marketing and driving awareness of the event, growing the scope of the event and/or increasing the percentage of out-of-town visitation to the event. Events must take place in the year the funds are awarded. VisitPITTSBURGH logo recognition and on-site activation opportunities will be required for all events that are awarded funds. Finally, recipients are required to submit a post-event report to VisitPITTSBURGH no more than three months after the event, detailing how the sponsorship money was used and outlining the ROI.

Distribution of Funds

Funds awarded by VisitPITTSBURGH for the Emerging Festivals & Cultural Events Fund are meant to seed new events and help existing events grow. Each event can receive up to $5,000, with the total amount determined by VisitPITTSBURGH’s Event Evaluation. VisitPITTSBURGH will support events for a maximum of three years, with sponsorship dollars decreasing by 50% each of the following years.

For example, an event may secure $5,000 from the program in year one, lowering to $2,500 in year two and then lowering to $1,250 in the third and final year.

Additional In-Kind Funds

In addition to cash funds, VisitPITTSBURGH will match the fund with advertising dollars, managed by VisitPITTSBURGH, targeting key markets and driving traffic to the event page on VisitPITTSBURGH.com.

Application Review

VisitPITTSBURGH will accept applications for the 2023 calendar year from January 1 and continue through the year until all funds have been dispersed

Events will be evaluated, and funds will be distributed, based on the review of a completed application and the outcome of VisitPITTSBURGH’s Event Evaluation

The following key categories will be evaluated for each event:

  • Economics
    • Does the event currently draw out-of-market, overnight visitation to Allegheny County?
    • Does the event have potential growth for future out-of-market, overnight visitation to Allegheny County?
  • Awareness
    • What are the target markets for the event?
    • Does the event incorporate public relations and/or media engagement opportunities?
    • Does the event have an established online presence?
    • Does the event have an established social voice?
  • Community Involvement
    • Is the event run by a charitable organization or a VisitPITTSBURGH business partner?
    • Does the event involve VisitPITTSBURGH business partners?
    • Is the event an annual occurrence or a unique, one-time experience?

Application Submissions

Applications should be submitted to Derek Dawson, Senior Director, Partnership Development, at derek.dawson@visitpittsburgh.com. Once the application period closes, or all funds have been distributed, no further submissions will be accepted. Applicants may apply only once per year.

The evaluation process for applications will take approximately eight weeks. During this time, VisitPITTSBURGH may reach out for clarification and additional information. Upon completion of the evaluation process, VisitPITTSBURGH will award funds based on the above criteria. 

Please Note: VisitPITTSBURGH’s Emerging Festivals & Cultural Events Fund operates under a policy of non-discrimination with a steadfast commitment to equity and diversity. VisitPITTSBURGH will not support programs centered on hate speech and/or the unjust or prejudicial treatment of any person.