Posted by: lucylightning | March 19, 2012

Pitt Arts Encourages Cultural Awareness among Financially Unstable Students

by Taylor Canavan

A night out, complete with Indian food (buffet-style), a need to loosen my belt (because of the buffet-style) and a trip to the Carnegie Music Hall where I’m serenaded by the works of Beethoven, Bartok and Mozart and I am one happy camper. As I enjoy the sounds of the Emerson String Quartet, I muse about how this night on the town was all free – and possible through the Pitt Arts program. What could be better?

Recently nicknamed Hollyburgh, Pittsburgh has been experiencing a revolution of sorts. As the steel industry faded out, in came a need for a new industry to bring money and excitement to a city with much to offer. As big-name movies began filming in the ‘burgh and popular artists started recording lyrics about Pittsburgh neighborhoods, it became clear that the shift from steel to entertainment was upon us. Pittsburgh is in the midst of establishing itself as a cultural icon.

But let’s be real: as college students, this cultural scene may be alluring but unattainable. When is the last time a college student had an extra fifty bucks to spare on a night at the opera? With the absence of parent’s wallets, college kids are strapped for cash and thus partially deprived of the finer shows and performances Pittsburgh has to offer. For example, I spent $180 last summer on two tickets to Cirque de Soleil and, as a result, had to pick up some extra double shifts at my summer job for the next month just to keep my bank account out of the red.
This conundrum of desiring to participate in Pittsburgh’s culture but being financially unable to do so is why I am writing about these “free visits” offered by the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt Arts is a great way to experience all things cultural in Pittsburgh, without even opening your wallet. It can even bolster your meal plan if your Dining Dollars are running low as many of the events offer lunch, dinner or refreshments of some sort. In my three years at Pitt, I have likely attended more than 30 free shows and workshops and ingested the equivalent in pounds of free food. (That was a joke although the buffets will get ya!)

Since 1997, Pitt Arts events have entertained, enlightened and exposed more than 327,000 students at the University of Pittsburgh to the world of art, entertainment and talent. Events include free tickets, transportation and sustenance. The website boasts, “students dialogue with arts leaders and learn how the arts can drive change and forge social bonds as well as entertain”.

So, not sure what to do next weekend? Log onto and check out what free entertainment they have to offer. At the very least, a Pitt Arts trip every once in awhile will have your parents thinking you are involved and using that $25,000 and change per year to its full potential.

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