Kevin McMahon/ photo by Brian Cohen

And that’s ok. We are making a difference in the lives of millions of people a year—and we’re making a real difference in our community. Because in Pittsburgh an individual and an individual organization can really make a difference—a permanent difference. We’re helping to transform what we are as a community. You can’t do that everywhere. But you can do that here.

NEXT: When people look back on your tenure, what would you like them to say?

McMahon: First, that this was not a solo act. There’s a lot of moving parts in the Cultural Trust and the Cultural District. We have hundreds of partners, a tremendous management team and staff, great leadership on our board. Our various boards—300 to 400 people who think of themselves in leadership roles at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. That’s great. That’s our strength.

When people look back, one of the things that I hope they appreciate is that we continued to evolve the Cultural District. It wasn’t as if the Cultural District was finished and we just ran it. When I came here there were still adult bookstores and porn shops on Liberty Avenue. Since that time we got the Cabaret Theater built as well as Theater Square. We vastly expanded the number of art galleries. We filled the theaters. We stepped up sustainability and fund raising.

Another thing was the notion of opening up the doors as wide as we can, putting something in the Cultural District for everyone. Diversifying our offerings, making sure there’s access and opportunity for everyone.

International Children's Festival last week, in the Cultural District for the first time. Photo by Tracy Certo.

International Children’s Festival last week, in the Cultural District for the first time. Photo by Tracy Certo.

Through all that we’re creating a sense of hope. Nowhere is that more clear than the magic of seeing children in a gallery have that wow moment. When they see something, and something goes off in their heads, and they say, “gosh, maybe there is a different world out there than what I’ve experienced.”

It’s our responsibility to make that happen, to translate that hope into an opportunity. We’re working on that, too.