PITT ARTS introduces students to Pittsburgh’s cultural scene

By Elizabeth Donnelly, Senior Staff Writer

There’s more to college than just classes and extracurriculars, especially at an urban campus. Pitt students can expect dozens of opportunities each year to get out into the City and experience something new.

For the artistically inclined, PITT ARTS provides many cheap or free tickets to plays, art galleries and more around the City. Besides handling free or cheap admission to local events and museums, the Student Affairs program, formed in 1997, also offers special events that connects students to artists and performers in the City

Artful Wednesdays

This event brings some of the most prominent acts in Pittsburgh arts and culture right to campus. Taking place five times a semester, Artful Wednesdays take place from noon to 1 p.m. at Nordy’s Place in the basement of the William Pitt Union and include free lunch for students with a valid ID. These events do not require registration beforehand. Acts for 2018-19 included indie band Meeting of Very Important People and the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh. Artful Wednesdays will run this fall between Oct. 9 and Nov. 6. 

The acts are as follows: 

Funky Fly Project // October 9

Conscious Soca // October 16

Sierra Sellers and Alex Jeffy // October 23

Sweaty Already String Band // October 30

Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh // November 6

Artists in Residence

Some artists PITT ARTS brings in stick around for more than just an hour. The Artists in Residence program brings in artists from around the country to Pitt to engage in discussions, workshops and performances on campus. The artist in residence for 2018 was Rhodessa Jones, a performer, writer and director who focuses on social activism. She spent the month of February at Pitt helping engage students in the world of theatre and activism. Artists in residence for 2019 have yet to be announced.

The director of PITT ARTS, Annabelle Clippinger, said she hopes more students come and interact with the artists in residence because they are such a special aspect of the PITT ARTS program.

“These artists in residence are just really extraordinarily rewarding because they’re only here for a limited amount of time,” Clippinger said. “It’s a great opportunity to really experiment and connect with someone you would have never met because they’re from another part of the country completely. We fly them in, pay for their airfare, put them up in hotels so that students get that experience of whatever it is [the artist does].”

Arts Encounters

PITT ARTS also has more than 100 Free Arts Encounters where full-time registered undergraduate students at Pitt’s Oakland campus can enjoy symphony, opera and ballet performances, as well as films showings, concerts and art gallery visits at no cost to them. Each of these programs include transportation, a catered reception and tickets, all provided by PITT ARTS. Each program incorporates educational components like workshops and discussions with artists and performers so students can get a better understanding of their artistic encounter.

Undergrads can sign up to receive PITT ARTS’ e-newsletter, which sends out emails detailing upcoming Arts Encounters every Monday during the year.

“We buy really nice seats, they’re not nosebleeds. It’s for some of the most desirable arts organizations, but also for the smaller ones, which are really worth while.” Clippinger said. “Be an experimenter. Try something different with us. Don’t be afraid to try something new. You might find that it is really interesting to you.”

Cheap Seats & discount tickets

For performances and exhibits not featured in an Arts Encounter, students with a valid ID can purchase up to four discounted tickets for select shows at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh CLO and CLO Cabaret. Upcoming performances during the fall semester include San Francisco’s ODC/Dance at the Trinity Cathedral and The Lion King on Broadway at the Benedum Center.

Students and faculty can access these tickets online by going to the Cultural District group sales page. As long as the Pitt ID holder who bought the tickets is present, friends and family who are not affiliated with Pitt can also use the tickets.

The PITT ARTS webpage also offers discounted tickets for other venues like the City Theatre, Quantum Theatre, PICT Classic Theatre and Calliope: Pittsburgh Folk Music Society. Pitt students and faculty are able to enjoy shows and performances at these locations for significantly reduced prices.

Pitt Nights

PITT ARTS also hosts three annual Pitt Nights during the academic year, where students and their non-Pitt friends and family can take advantage of free transportation and free dessert to a specific performance. Pitt Night attendees will also get the chance to meet the cast and artistic directors behind each of the performances.

According to Clippinger, the 2019-20 Pitt Nights have been decided upon. They include Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Pittsburgh Opera in October, a performance of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in November and Beauty and the Beast at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in February. Clippinger said the November symphony performance is the most notable change to this year’s Pitt Nights because it is straying from the typical grand classics to a more contemporary soundtrack.

Museum entry and more

During the academic year, PITT ARTS also ensures that Pittsburgh’s six premier museum locations are free with a valid Pitt student ID. These include the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the Carnegie Science Center, The Mattress Factory, the Senator John Heinz History Center and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum.

Pitt students are also able to access Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for free with their Pitt ID. Phipps is one of the closest attractions to campus. Located in Schenley Park, the conservatory offers a variety of seasonal flower shows, orchid and bonsai collections and special events catered for visitors of all ages and interests.

New students can also look forward to PITT ARTS’ annual Arts Fest. The event is part of Fall Fest, Pitt Program Council’s annual free music and arts festival in September. Students will be able to purchase art, talk with artists and connect with arts organizations on campus and from around the City.