About Three Rivers Arts Festival
All anyone really wanted was a little outdoor art show near Carnegie Institute, some paintings, perhaps, scattered along the mall among the trees outside Carnegie Library. Adolph Schmidt – the Festival’s first chairman – persuaded the “founders” to take the show downtown, and the Three Rivers Arts Festival was born…
People who were not gallery or theater-goers had their first glimpse of live actors and dancers, saw photographers stretch the dimensions of light and color, moved among pieces of sculpture, and watched artists turn chunks of clay, glass, wood and metal into bits of beauty.
- From the 1979 Three Rivers Arts Festival program
The Three Rivers Arts Festival may well become the cultural pivot for the people of our great Ohio River Valley. The scope of this cultural program will be nurtured and vitalized through the participation of all of our people. The Three Rivers Arts Festival is dedicated to the conviction that to have a democratic culture, “Everyman” who has the inclination shall have the opportunity to define his culture through his participation.
- Robert A. Boudreau, Director, American Wind Symphony
From the 1960 Festival program
Three Rivers Arts Festival quickly grew from the “little outdoor art show” cited above to what is today the region’s largest multidisciplinary showcase of visual art and performing arts. Despite a rapid growth, the Festival’s mission to connect the community to arts and culture has remained consistent throughout the event’s 50-year history.
Founded in 1960 by the Women’s Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art, Three Rivers Arts Festival has presented, during its vast and varied history, more than 10,000 visual and performing artists and entertained millions of residents and visitors. In its 50th anniversary year, Three Rivers Arts Festival faced a new turning point in its history as a division of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, further advancing the shared mission of each organization to foster economic development through the arts and to enhance the quality of life in the region.
One could say that never has this mission been as critical as during these challenging economic times. By providing local citizens with an opportunity for free entertainment and cultural enrichment, Three Rivers Arts Festival is not only fulfilling the original intent of the Women’s Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art to bring art outside traditional venue walls, but also helping to fill a void many families are experiencing after recreational and travel plans have been curtailed by dwindling household budgets.
The 50th anniversary marks the long awaited return of Three Rivers Arts Festival to the newly revitalized Point State Park, where the Dollar Bank Main Stage, an expanded Artists Market footprint and the Creativity Zone are located. Through the continued use of Gateway Center and the addition of the gallery-and-theater network found in the Cultural District, thousands will discover – as they journey from exhibition spaces to restaurants, theaters, live stages and gathering places – why Pittsburgh is credited as one of the strongest cultural destinations in the country.