National Aviary
Courtesy the National Aviary.

Next month, our civic and cultural leaders will hold a series of public events to celebrate taxes. Actually, one tax in particular.

First enacted in 1994, the 1 percent county sales tax, also known as the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) tax, provides funding for institutions and amenities widely used by residents across the county — such as the zoo, the libraries and parks. Specific funding decisions are made by a small staff and a board of directors based in Pittsburgh.

To date, the RAD tax has raised nearly $4 billion in support for 104 local organizations, including $623 million for our libraries and $582 million for parks and trails.

“It is pretty remarkable what the taxpayers in Allegheny County have made possible with that extra penny on the dollar in sales tax,” said RAD Communications Director Shannon Musgrave in an interview with NEXTpittsburgh. “The amazing outdoor and recreational opportunities here, the vibrancy of the arts community, the expansive reach of the library system, all supported by the people who live, work and play here. It’s a really special thing.”

To celebrate a quarter-century of support, the RAD staff is teaming up with dozens of local arts organizations to kick off RADical Days, a month of free events highlighting Pittsburgh’s wealth of cultural resources.

Running Sept. 19 through Oct. 13, the series includes performances and exhibitions at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, National Aviary and many more.

While RAD has held similar celebrations in the past, this particular birthday will include a number of new events.

“As part of RAD’s 25th-anniversary celebration, we are awarding RADical ImPAct Grants for bold, forward-looking projects that demonstrate the creative ability of RAD assets to inspire the region for the next 25 years,” said Musgrave. “We received some really exciting proposals and are looking forward to announcing the finalists in September.”

Check out the full schedule here.

In addition, dozens of RAD partners will offer special deals and discounts on tickets, including the Pittsburgh CLO‘s production of “One-Man Star Wars Trilogy,” coming Sept.11. Check out the list of special RAD discounts here.

“For 25 years, RAD has been about working cooperatively and collaboratively to use tax dollars strategically in our region to support impactful institutions and organizations which lend themselves to the great quality of life we have here,” said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in an announcement about the celebration. “I look forward to seeing the impact they will have in the coming 25 years.”

Bill O'Toole

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