The August Wilson Center, Downtown, has galleries, a theater and several event spaces, with rates for commercial renters, nonprofit organizations and community groups. Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Cultural District.

Since launching 25 years ago, our county’s 1 percent Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) tax has provided $3.9 billion in support for dozens of cultural institutions and public amenities across the region.

This week, as RAD celebrates its silver anniversary, the Pittsburgh-based organization’s board of directors unveiled the winners of their first-ever RADical ImPAct Grants, a contest seeking “bold, forward-looking, creative projects that will have a radical impact on the region.”

Speaking with NEXTpittsburgh, RAD Board Chair Dan Griffin explains that traditionally, funding has only been allocated for basic, day-to-day operating expenses.

With the RADical ImPAct Grants, the board hoped to inspire and support ambitious projects that are well outside the budgets of their many local partners.

“The idea behind the 25th-anniversary radical impact grants was that we wanted them to think outside the box,” says Griffin.

While the original plan was to award $2.5 million to a select number of applicants, the board ended up funding all 12 of the finalists announced earlier this year, bringing the total to $3.4 million.

In making their selections, the board was looking for “anything that brought organizations together cooperatively,” says Griffin. Also, “public art was something that I was very interested in funding.”

Check out this year’s winners:

Art in the Parks: Re-imagining Public Art

A $1.5 million collaboration between Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh to install art in public parks.

August Wilson: The Writer’s Landscape

To celebrate what would have been the eminent Pittsburgh playwright’s 75th birthday in April 2020, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center will receive $300,000 for an interactive art exhibit celebrating the author’s life and work.

RAD Pass

With a gift of $91,514, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will create an online platform that will allow library cardholders to get discounts on tickets to participating cultural organizations and events.

All Pittsburghers are Poets

City of Asylum received $80,000 to support a competition open to residents of all ages and abilities that will culminate in the crowning of Pittsburgh’s poet laureate.

Building Bridges: A Community-Centered New Work of Immigrant Stories

City Theatre Company, All for All, Global Minds Initiative and Literacy Pittsburgh and were awarded $225,000 to commission and produce a play based on the stories of immigrants and refugees.

RADical Adventurers

Father Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks received $25,000 to create a time capsule with highlighting youth writing and various RAD assets.

Connecting the North Side: The Corridor

The Mattress Factory (project lead), Andy Warhol Museum, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, City of Asylum and the National Aviary received $120,000 to support collaborative mapping projects and joint programming.

Singing is RAD!

The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh received $177,975 to spearhead a concert at the 2021 Three Rivers Arts Festival which will bring together thousands of local singers.

Artwalk on the Allegheny River

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Riverlife were awarded $330,000 to create two miles of public art along the riverfront trails leading from Downtown into the Strip District.

Curtain Call: Public Art Project

The Sports & Exhibition Authority, in collaboration with landscape architect Walter Hood, received $500,000 to support a community public art project featuring Hill District residents near PPG Paints Arena.

Mobile Studio: Clay For All

The Union Project will use a $79,000 grant to fund a mobile ceramics studio to bring arts and crafts to underserved parts of the region.


Finally, to help spread the word, SLB Radio was awarded $62,000 for a podcast series produced by teen reporters that will showcase each RAD asset.

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.