Pittsburgh's Transformation Attracts National and International Arts Conferences

City's revitalization has made it a destination of choice for art groups.

PITTSBURGH – It is a coincidence, but not a surprise. Five major arts and museum conferences are converging in Pittsburgh between this April and next January, attracting more than 4,000 arts and museum leaders and supporters. Conference attendees from across the country and around the world will be introduced to the Pittsburgh region's vibrant arts scene, and to the creativity and collaborative spirit involving business, government, foundations and non-profits that has made it happen.

"Pittsburgh has achieved global recognition as an arts leader," said Mitch Swain, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, which represents the Pittsburgh region's thriving arts community. "The timing of these conferences is more than coincidence; it is an indication that Pittsburgh's longtime investment in the arts is paying dividends in terms of awareness and visitor dollars."

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh will host the Association of Children's Museums (ACM) Annual InterActivity Conference, April 30-May 2, 2013. The conference theme is "Reimagining Children's Museums," and will attract approximately 800 museum professionals, educators, students and individuals from across the nation. "Pittsburgh has a vibrant cultural district," says Janet Rice Elman, ACM executive director. "Pittsburgh's successful transformation from an industrial town to an international center of knowledge and innovation has become a case study in sustainability. In other words, we couldn't have picked a more inspiring, authentic setting to reimagine!"

Joe Wos, president and founder of ToonSeum, one of only two cartoon museums in the country, will host the National Cartoonist Society Conference and Reuben Awards in May. "The Reuben Awards are equivalent to the Oscars in the cartoon and comic industry," says Wos. More than 400 comic-strip, animation, cartoon and comic-book artists, some of them true living legends, will convene in Pittsburgh.

Americans for the Arts comes to town for its Annual Convention and three pre-conferences, hosted locally by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. According to Americans for the Arts CEO Robert Lynch, "What makes a great convening is what is happening outside the convention hall. Pittsburgh has the Three Rivers Arts Festival, strong public art, a model Cultural District and arts institutions you want to spend time in. That brings attendees a memorable experience, which makes for a better learning experience." Pre-conferences focused on Public Art, Emerging Leaders and Cultural Districts will run June 13-14. The main convention will be held June 14-16. Collectively, they will attract approximately 1,400 arts leaders from around the country who will gather to discuss issues affecting artists, arts-based community development, arts organizations and creative industries.

The International Festivals and Events Association, the premiere association supporting and enabling festival and event professionals worldwide, will hold the IFEA Annual Convention & Expo, September 16-18. It is the top networking event in the field featuring more than 100 educational sessions by top experts.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will host the International Performing Arts for Youth Showcase from January 22-25, 2014. The conference will return to Pittsburgh for the third time attracting hundreds of attendees from around the globe. Participants will include artists, agents, managers, presenters and students who make or present professional theater for young audiences. "Participants will be moving throughout the Cultural District for four solid days of performances, workshops, dinners, tours, exhibits, networking and more," says Pam Lieberman, IPAY's vice president for planning. "Because the conference is similar to a theater festival, Pittsburgh's families will have access to free tickets to see over 25 professional performances."

"These conferences will translate to millions of dollars in direct spending in the region," says Craig Davis, president and CEO of VisitPittsburgh. "But, just as importantly, they demonstrate that Pittsburgh has remade itself and lives up to the many recent accolades we have received as one of the best cities in the world, both economically and culturally."

Visitors to Pittsburgh will have numerous opportunities to experience and enjoy the arts, as attendees at national conferences and as participants in events, festivals and exhibits:
Arts and Museum Conferences 2013-2014

  • Association of Children's Museums Annual Conference, April 30-May 2, 2013
  • National Cartoonist Society Conference and Reuben Awards, May 24-26, 2013
  • Americans for the Arts Annual Convention (and pre-conferences), June 13-16, 2013
  • American Musicological Society Annual Meeting , November 7-10, 2013
  • International Festival and Events Association Annual Convention and Expo, September 16-18, 2013
  • International Performing Arts for Youth Showcase, January 22-25, 2014