How do you find free family-friendly events in your area? How do you find the right event - whether it’s comedy, craft, or cinema - for a date? How can you do either of these things without making the task an event in itself?
Artsburgh (Artsburgh.org), a new online listing of arts and cultural events, classes, and happenings throughout the region, was developed by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council to help people access arts and culture easily and with their own preferences.
“Right now throughout the region we have many arts and culture calendars and it’s really hard to locate what’s really going on over all,” said Jen Saffron, GPAC’s Director of Communications. “Artsburgh is designed to be that one-stop hub and, as it grows, that’s exactly what it’s starting to become.”
“It’s also a tool that’s great for arts organizations,” she explained, “because you can put your information into Artsburgh and it will feed out onto other calendars making your life easier.”
Artsburgh came about from a national conversation among colleagues that grew into what is now the Project Audience organization. Tiffany Wilhelm, GPAC’s Deputy Director, was in on some of the early discussions. Project Audience, a national nonprofit with funding from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks to address the fact that the arts and culture sector depends on audiences.
A recent NEA survey on the arts participation of adults in America reported that this activity had fallen from 39% in 1982 to 33.3% in 2012, a drop that occurred in cities across the country.
Recognizing that two-thirds of Americans do not participate in arts and culture at all, Project Audience and GPAC started to discuss what needed to be done as a sector -- not just locally and regionally -- but nationally to make the arts visible and important.
Said Saffron, “How can we make our art relevant and visible and important to others? Artsburgh is one answer to that question.”
Any arts and culture organization or artist can list an event on Artsburgh. There is no charge to the organization and they can go online and set up a user account right here.
Users who visit Artsburgh can use filters to tailor their experience and buy tickets and map directions onto their phone. “It’s not just a general listing,” she emphasized. “It’s meant to be customized for you.” It’s also customized for those who list events, with Artsburgh remembering user preferences and allowing for flexible event schedules.
In addition to paying for the development of the product, GPAC has also begun a marketing and advertising campaign to get the word out about Artsburgh. They have a marketing program with WPXI mobile marketing, online marketing programs with Treading Art, and Whirl magazine, and digital billboards on parkways around town. There is also a strong social media campaign with an Artsburgh Facebook page.
According to Saffron, although Artsburgh is only two months old, “it is something that is growing and evolving and we’re looking forward to having more arts and culture offerings so that the arts are more and more at top of mind for choices of what to do with our time, energy, and money. That’s really the goal.”