The Office of Public Art (OPA) was established in 2005 after leadership at the City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, ProArts (now the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council), and The Heinz Endowments identified a gap in ongoing knowledge and services for public art in the Pittsburgh region. They sought to establish an entity that would consistently provide public art assistance to government, nonprofit, and design colleagues throughout Pittsburgh to help achieve broader civic design and community development goals. Through partnership between the public and private sectors, the Office of Public Art was established to support and advance the role of public art in the Pittsburgh region.
We work at the convergence of public art and civic design in the Pittsburgh region.
The Office of Public Art envisions a region in which the creative practices of artists are fully engaged to collaboratively shape the public realm and catalyze community-led change. OPA builds capacity for this work through civically engaged public art, artist resources, public programming, and technical assistance.
Artists are agents of social, civic, and cultural change. We support them to work with communities.
Community members are highly valued collaborators with expertise in their neighborhoods. We build capacity for them to engage with artists.
Equity and social justice are the foundation of our work. We center equitable and just practices through staff commitments as well as in our programs, partnerships, and collaborations.
A successful public art landscape depends upon a thriving network of public art practitioners. We build tools and systems to support the public art ecosystem in the region.
Since inception, OPA has succeeded in developing an ecosystem for public art in the region, establishing our reputation for being valued and skilled collaborators, planners, and implementers. We have a proven track record of working with key civic design stakeholders in the public and private sectors, as well as serving as an important resource for individual artists, nonprofit organizations, and community development groups.
As the public art ecosystem in the Pittsburgh region has grown, OPA’s role has shifted from being a behind the scenes collaborator and colleague to an entity that is a lead partner for new initiatives in the public realm. Building upon the infrastructure that was created in our early years, we have been able to proactively seek opportunities to work collaboratively with communities, develop new partnerships with public and private entities, and create new programs for artists to work in the public realm. This work includes building and growing our programs for Artist Residencies and Civic Engagement in the public realm. In addition, we have maintained and expanded our technical assistance services and educational programs, building capacity for individual artists to work in the public realm and creating new audiences for public art.
Through our work, we have built the systems, partners, and resources that are necessary to create a sustainable and diverse ecosystem for public art in our region.
The Office of Public Art (OPA) is located at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, which serves as its 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor. OPA is supported by an Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee meets three to four times a year to discuss OPA activities, review OPA’s budget, and participate in planning activities.
OPA Advisory Committee
Deborah Acklin, WQED
Darla Cravotta, Office of the County Executive, Allegheny County
Shad Henderson, Neighborhood Allies
Rachel Rearick, Pittsburgh International Airport
Janet Sarbaugh, The Heinz Endowments
Rob Stephany, The Heinz Endowments
Mitch Swain, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council
Top to bottom, left to right:
(1) Photo by OPA; (2) Market Square Public Art Program, photo by Renee Rosensteel; (3) The Village, part of Homecoming: Hill District, USA by artist Njaimeh Njie, photo by OPA; (4) Khūrākī by artist Molly Rice, photo by Heather Mull; (5) Streaming Space by artists Alisha B. Wormsley and Ricardo Robinson, photo by Renee Rosensteel; (6) Staff photos by sarah huny young