Central Web Site For Regional “Art Places” Unveiled

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All regional venues for visual, performing and literary arts are invited to include their profiles on www.pittsburghartplaces.org, a searchable web site launched yesterday by Pittsburgh’s Office of Public Art.

The site, intended as a resource for both arts groups and arts patrons, currently includes 200 profiles, said OPA director Renee Piechocki at a press event yesterday. And it’s not just about museums, galleries and theaters: bookstores, public libraries, public art sites, even bars with live music are invited to participate.

Venues can also list information about specific exhibitions and facilities rental.

“We really want to engage the widest array of visitors” to the site, said Piechocki. The site is open to any venue or artwork in the 13-county region.

Posting a profile is free. The site — “a cultural concierge and public-art archive,” according to the press release” — is sponsored by the Colcom Foundation and the Hillman Foundation.

Pittsburgh Art Places is an outgrowth of the online Pittsburgh Artist Registry, an ongoing initiative of the OPA. The OPA is a public-private partnership between the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, a nonprofit advocacy group.

The new site follows on the heels of Pittsburgh Art in Public Places, a new OPA publication featuring photo-illustrated walking tours of public artworks in and around Downtown.

The website goes beyond the book not only geographically. It also includes artworks that aren’t there anymore (Piechocki spotlit “Fraley’s Robot Repair,” a whimsical Downtown storefront installation that closed last year) and the opportunity for deeper documentation of artworks, including “making-of” photos and embedded video.

It’s worth noting here that your friendly neighborhood newsweekly also includes pretty thorough, searchable, online listings of arts events in the metro area.

But from an arts group or venue’s perspective, the advantage of Pittsburgh Art Places is that it’s free self-promotion in one’s own words. And it's packaged on a site the OPA plans to start marketing on public transit and elsewhere by year’s end, by which time Piechocki expects it to include 400 profiles.

Another conduit for the site will be VisitPittsburgh. The travel-and-tourism outfit hopes to use Pittsburgh Art Places to guide visiting press as well.

“People are looking for hidden gems,” said Tinsey Labrie, VisitPittsburgh vice-president of marketing. “This is really a great asset for visitors, and it’s the definitive place to find art in the region.”

“Visitors who come for culture and the arts are very adventurous,” Labrie added. “They stay longer, they see more, they spend more money.”

Moreover, site visitors can create their own profiles of favorite venues (including restaurants) to share publicly or privately. And Bricolage Productions, which hosted yesterday’s presser, has already created its own curated walking tours for patrons looking to kill a few minutes before the next performance.

Others tours posted include an architectural tour of Pittsburgh, by site contributor (and occasional CP architecture writer) Charles Rosenblum. There are also art tours curated by Andy Warhol Museum executive director Eric Shiner and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

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