Pittsburgh’s got more than a passing interest in Sunday night’s Tony Awards on Broadway. The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera is an investor in no fewer than three productions that are contenders for the top prize.
The CLO invested in Matilda: The Musical and Kinky Boots, the favorites for Best Musical, and in Cinderella, which is nominated for Best Revival of a Musical.
Favorite son Billy Porter is also up for a Tony as Best Actor in a Musical. He’s a former CLO Mini-Star and graduate of the Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts.
During a quick interview outside the Benedum Center, Pittsburgh CLO Executive Director talked about Pittsburgh’s ongoing influence on the Great White Way.
Pittsburgh’s 4moms – an innovative, tech-savvy company sporting a team-driven work style – finds its passion and profit in making high-tech baby gear for discriminating parents worldwide, including Sir Elton John, Hilary Duff and Kourtney Kardashian. The Strip District-based company announced plans to expand operations with the support of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 4moms fuses robotics technology and electronics to create infant and juvenile consumer goods that are cool and practical for kids and their parents. Led by company co-founders Henry Thorne and Rob Daley, the entire 4moms team tinkers with tons of creative ideas every day and has commercialized these in products that include Origami, 4mom’s 3-D folding stroller that opens at the touch of a button. In addition to its ease-of-use, Origami features a generator to charge the stroller and a cell phone while parents are out for a walk with their tikes. 4moms sells products in 500 retailers in the U.S., has distribution in 23 countries and has been featured on national TV including NBC’s Today show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Currently located in the downtown adjacent Strip District, 4moms got its start in 2005 with funding from Innovation Works, Pittsburgh’s largest seed-stage investor, which influenced the decision on where to set up shop. Co-founders Thorne and Daley were already keen on Pittsburgh because of the talent pool here, and region’s strong network and support for entrepreneurs and financing for startup companies, particularly those with a technology bent, helped to seal the deal and get 4moms going.
Governor Tom Corbett recently announced the details of the latest expansion project – indicating that 4moms is growing its operations and acquiring additional space, which will result in 75 new jobs tripling the company’s workforce. The company’s $1 million investment includes the purchase of new equipment and employee training.
Over the weekend of May 2 – 5, when the world-class Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon happened to coincide with the 2013 celebration of Cinco de Mayo, eight national Latino journalists traveled to Pittsburgh to see for themselves the employment and entrepreneurial prospects for Latinos in a re-imagined and re-made Pittsburgh region.
Coming from New York, Chicago and Cincinnati, the journalists spent three intense days exploring how business, civic, government, education and tourism leaders from the region – including Latinos who have found their place in Pittsburgh – are working together to enhance the region’s economic competitiveness by growing its diversity. Through a newly established organization, Vibrant Pittsburgh, these partners are aiming to make Pittsburgh one of the most welcoming places for people of all backgrounds – no matter if their visits are for a day or longer stays, such as relocation. A Latino talent attraction initiative – Hola, Pittsburgh/Pittsburgh Te Invita – is part of this broader effort.
Hola, Pittsburgh/Pittsburgh Te Invita is targeted at Hispanic Americans and invites them to explore the Pittsburgh region’s nearly 30,000 open jobs across industries, as well as 89 distinct urban neighborhoods, ample affordable housing, renowned arts and culture and recreational assets and The Pittsburgh Promise – a $40,000-per-child college scholarship program for students attending Pittsburgh Public Schools.
A significant goal of the Latino media visit was to reach Hispanic Americans in key, nearby markets via the print and broadcast outlets that they view – utilizing these to introduce Pittsburgh and its opportunities.
The tour participants were muy excitado about Pittsburgh, and already stories are being published with headlines including “Pittsburgh: Promised Land” and “Art, Action and Latinos in Pittsburgh.” If you’re fluent in Spanish, you can read a sampling here, here, and here.
If not, you can watch the video below and hear some of the journalists’ perspectives – in English – about Pittsburgh as a “land of promise” – or at least land of The Pittsburgh Promise.
For cartoon enthusiasts everywhere, this Memorial Day weekend is THE time to be in Pittsburgh. For the first time ever, our region is hosting hundreds of cartoonists from across the country for the National Cartoonist Society conference which is rolling into town today. And to dovetail with the conference, the ToonSeum is organizing a comic arts street party, open to the public, called the Pittsburgh Comic Arts Festival on Sunday, May 26.
Billed as a “living pages block party,” the festival will feature visits from iconic comic and cartoon characters such as Popeye, Olive Oil, Betty Boop and Dennis the Menace, as well as vendors, artists and interactive arts activities – all catering to our collective love for the comic arts. Autograph and sketch sessions will also be offered with more than 60 of the nation’s leading comic artists and cartoonists. The street festival runs from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Liberty Ave. between 9th and 10th streets.
Admission to the block party is free and access to the ToonSeum exhibits and the artist sessions is $5.
In addition to the street festival, the ToonSeum is partnering with the August Wilson Center and Bricolage to host a jam-packed series of panel events on Sunday. One of the discussions will focus on “women in cartooning” and will feature Cathy Guisewite of Cathy, Lynn Johnston of For Better or Worse, Terri Libenson of The Pajama Diaries, Hilary Price of Rhymes with Orange and Jen Sorensen of Slowpoke. You can find ticket information and a full schedule of sessions here.
Why is Pittsburgh the perfect place to host this weekend of comic arts festivities? Perhaps it’s because we’re home to the ToonSeum, one of just two museums in America dedicated to cartoon art. Watch the video below to hear Joe Wos, founder and executive director of this downtown cartoon mecca, speak about the museum and why there is “universal appeal” for cartoons throughout the world. And be sure to check out the Pittsburgh Comic Arts Festival this Sunday. It’s sure to be blast for cartoon lovers of all ages.
I had the opportunity over the past nine months to participate in the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI), a program of Leadership Pittsburgh. Our class was asked to design and organize a PopUp! event – a temporary, low-cost initiative that has the ability to surprise, provoke and entertain in ways that change perceptions about the places where they occur. Ours was in the Mt. Washington neighborhood.
Early in the process, three core goals of the May 11 event were agreed upon: to introduce the city’s new Emerald View Park System; to engage Mt. Washington residents – particularly families – in the event; and to highlight the area’s vibrant business district. A consensus was reached to hold a 5K race and community day featuring a Wizard of Oz theme. I can’t say I entirely understand where the theme idea originated from, but it came to be, nonetheless.
Despite the less than perfect weather – actually, despite the terrible weather – the event was well received, well attended and the 5K course received glowing reviews for balancing some challenging stretches with flat sections. Quite a few runners expressed genuine surprise for how much the area’s roads had to offer for a race and for training runs.
An event like this doesn’t come together without the help of many individuals, groups and sponsors, far too many to list here, but the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation and the business community deserve special recognition for embracing the project; it could not have been successful without their support. And, of course, Aradhna Malhotra Oliphant, Kristen Freiss with Leadership Pittsburgh for making the experience possible and pushing for it to be meaningful.
Leadership Pittsburgh is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a diverse group of leaders to serve southwestern Pennsylvania, impact the community and act as catalysts for positive change in our region. It is now accepting applicants for the 2013-2014 Leadership Development Initiative class here.