Trust Solicits Funds to Keep Three Rivers Arts Festival Free

Article excerpt

The Three Rivers Arts Festival has always been 99-percent free to the public. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust wants to keep it that way.

The Trust this week started an e-mail pledge drive to raise money for this year's festival, which runs June 4-13. Those who donate $50 or more will become a member of the Cultural Trust and receive benefits that include advance notice of productions and discounts at restaurants in the Cultural District. The e-mail emphasized that smaller donations would also be welcome.

Trust President and CEO J. Kevin McMahon said the group always has solicited individual donations for its programs, which include the Pittsburgh Dance Council, First Night and the PNC Pittsburgh Broadway Series.

"It's not that we're doing something differently," he said. "The Cultural Trust has always sought funding from corporations, foundations, individuals and government. We're making a special effort."

McMahon said leaders want to tap into the populist spirit of the festival, which the Women's Committee of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh created in 1959. The Trust took over the festival in the fall of 2008.

"Sometimes I think people mistakenly believe that they can't make a difference," he said. "That they can't be philanthropists. What we're trying to do is to say that the Three Rivers Arts Festival has always been a people's festival."

Deborah Acklin, chair of the Arts Festival advisory board, is not involved in the fundraising efforts. …