Member Spotlight: Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Unifying the voice of nonprofits to leverage their power

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) is the region’s primary advocacy and service organization for arts and culture, driving the political, financial, and professional support for the Greater Pittsburgh arts and culture sector.  GPAC, a membership organization, currently represents approximately 300 diverse non-profits and artists across Southwestern PA – small, medium, and large non-profits as well as creative producers of all kinds. To support its members as well as the creative community at large, GPAC offers expert programs, resources and research that help strengthen and support Pittsburgh’s thriving arts community:  grants to artists and non-profits, professional development workshops, technical assistance, marketing data, exhibition opportunities, pro bono legal and business consulting, and a range of advocacy and policy initiatives designed to both support individual creative careers as well as build and sustain the greater arts and culture sector, over time.

On the advocacy front, this year GPAC joined GPNP on nearly 10 visits to offices of our elected officials, urging both Republicans and Democrats to pass a state budget, working together to help solve the common problem of our non-profit partners experiencing serious cash flow issues, staff cuts, and the need to take out loans due to the lack of the state budget.  Because the arts touches many sectors, such as tourism, education, and economic development, GPAC works in partnership with organizations such as GPNP as well as PA Museums, VisitPITTSBURGH, the Education Policy Leadership Center, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Humanities, for example. By building coalitions, GPAC helps lead the development of statewide advocacy and policy that strengthens the arts and culture sector and partnering sectors, too.

Mitch Swain, GPAC’s CEO, is also the chair of Citizens for the Arts in PA, the statewide advocacy group that works closely with the PA Arts and Culture Caucus, a bicameral and bipartisan caucus that is one of the largest caucuses in the state legislature. This has been particularly helpful in the current budget negotiations, standing firm against proposed sales tax to non-profits such as museums and performing arts venues. Of great concern to GPAC is that the arts are accessible to all, and raising ticket prices to accommodate a sales tax would negatively impact access to all citizens.

Celebrating its 10th year as the region’s arts service organization, GPAC recently hosted its annual meeting at the August Wilson Center with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto as the guest speaker.  With “Moving Forward” as its theme, the meeting showcased research and data to help the 200 guests learn more about where we’re headed as a sector. GPAC is excited and poised to serve the more than 7,000 artists in this region and the hundreds of arts nonprofits, create new systems for granting that are more equitable and just, launch Artsburgh to promote the arts, and develop partnerships in the creative industries - just some of the ways GPAC will move forward to the next 10 years of service.