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Voice from Downtown: Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Kendra Whitlock Ingram on the Three Rivers Arts Festival

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As the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival approaches its 65th year in downtown, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust President and CEO Kendra Whitlock Ingram shares what she’s most looking forward to.


visitors to the Three Rivers Arts Festival every year


days of accessible and free music and art


national and regional fine artists and craftspeople exhibiting their wares

During Ingram’s first experience with the event last year, she gravitated toward the artist market, eager to find high-quality artwork to make her new house in Pittsburgh a home.

This year, Ingram says she’ll browse the work of new visual artists, but the concerts from national acts like Ozomatli and Sugar Hill Gang & The Furious Five are circled on her very busy calendar, as well.

Heading in to her second year navigating the Three Rivers Arts Festival, the president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has emerged as the No. 1 champion of one of the longest running marquee events within the city of champions.

As a relative newcomer to the city – she moved back in 2023 after earning her undergraduate degree from Duquesne University – Ingram is as eager to soak up the sounds and snap up the art as the most loyal veterans of the event, currently produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

This year, the festival shifts its physical footprint to take over the Cultural District and beyond. Directed by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the district comprises a 14-block downtown gem that stretches from Liberty Avenue and Fort Duquesne Boulevard between 6th and 10th streets.

“The festival has the largest impact of almost any program that we present for the community, because so many people attend it and it is free of charge,” Ingram says.

From May 31 through June 9, the signature summertime event of the city brings a shoppable artist market, hands-on creator activities and national performing artists to key locations including the Dollar Bank Main Stage at the intersection of Fort Duquesne Boulevard and 9th Street and the Green Mountain Energy Stage on the Rachel Carson Bridge. The artist market takes over the Rachel Carson Bridge and Fort Duquesne Boulevard between 6th and 9th streets.

But those buzzing blocks hosting this year’s arts festival are a magnet for other cultural events taking place during the same weekend. World Square, a showcase for businesses, artists, and purveyors from the city’s international and newcomer communities, takes over Market Square from May 31 through June 2, and then again from June 7-9. Across the river in Allegheny Commons Park West, Pittsburgh Pride 2024 celebrates LGBTQIA+ identities and histories from May 31 through June 2. Ongoing events in Market Square, such as free yoga sessions and a weekly farmers market, round out the additive effects of the arts festival on adjacent activations.

Ingram sees the simultaneous city events creating a halo effect. “Because of the volume of people that the festival attracts, certainly the Cultural District is the epicenter for activity,” she says. “That lifts the Golden Triangle as a whole.”

Ingram reflects on cities such as Milwaukee, often called the City of Festivals, and Chicago, with its event-ready lakefront space at Grant Park. Because concentrating foot traffic is key to maximizing the impact of urban events, Ingram says, the Three Rivers Arts Festival is able to compete with peer cities in making high-quality art accessible to all of downtown’s residents and visitors.

“We are able to utilize downtown in a way that I think a lot of cities would aspire to,” Ingram says, pointing to the compact footprint of downtown Pittsburgh that encourages easy walkability from one venue to another. “(The festival) is diverse on every level that you can expect, and it is a perfect representation of our commitment to performing and visual arts in the city.”


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