Cultural Trust takes over Three Rivers Arts Festival
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The Three Rivers Arts Festival will break a 49-year affiliation with Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh in January to become a program of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
The Cultural Trust's executive committee last week voted to assume control over the festival staff, finances and programming beginning with the 2009 festival, the Trust, Carnegie Museums and festival advisory board announced today.
Trust President and Chief Executive Officer J. Kevin McMahon said next summer's festival -- the 50th -- would follow a similar format as in prior years. It is typically held Downtown for 17 days each June.
With barely seven months to organize the event, staff to bring on board and a shaky economy, Mr. McMahon said the Trust will have to work very hard to catch up, but "we're certainly committed to doing a credible festival," even if that means doing a little less than in past years.
The Trust and festival boards were unanimous with their decision.
As Three Rivers "became more and more of a festival, it became less and less aligned with the mission of the museums" said David Hillenbrand, Carnegie Museums president and CEO, in explaining the change.
Dr. Hillenbrand said the Carnegie Museums will work closely with the Trust during this interim period.
In September, concerns over the financial health of the festival led to the Carnegie Museums' decision to eliminate its executive director and associate director positions..
Asked whether he thought the festival would have died had the Trust not taken it on, Mr. McMahon said that was a worry of his and of his board.
The commitment for 2009 was good, he said, "but it got a little gray after that."
"We're not talking about reinventing it this summer," but he wants to soon begin an active community dialogue about what the 2010 festival should look like. He envisions focus groups, surveys and town hall meetings held over a few months to get input.
"Everything's on the table after ," he said, while acknowledging the importance of crafts, festival food, performing and visual arts. He also has hopes for a return to Point State Park, which was off limits to festival exhibits the past two summers during an 18-month, $7 million renovation. No agreement has been reached yet.
Mr. McMahon expects management details to be announced within weeks, and programming specifics to be announced in the spring.
First Published November 26, 2008 12:00 am