New “Pop District” Will Bring Public Art, Performances and More to the North Shore

The project, led by The Andy Warhol Museum, aims to provide programming and creative spaces for local artists, youth and residents alike.
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Big changes are in store for the North Shore.

The Andy Warhol Museum announced Friday that it will spearhead a major new cultural and economic development project that will dramatically transform a six-block section of the North Shore into the so-called “Pop District.” It will feature cultural programming like public art, digital media production and live museum performances, while also creating a museum-led tourism destination in the city where Andy Warhol was born.

“The Pop District will demonstrate the role that museums can and must play in their communities by serving as centers of innovation and catalysts of economic development,” said Steven Knapp, president and CEO of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, the parent organization of The Warhol, in a statement. “This new district on the North Shore will also complement and amplify the vital role of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, to which it is directly joined by the Andy Warhol Bridge.”

Based on research conducted by consulting firm Chora Creative, which assisted in a two-year planning process for The Pop District, The Warhol projects that the economic and quantitative impact of the district will include more than $100 million in annual economic activity and 50,000-70,000 new visitors to Pittsburgh’s North Shore each year. 

It’ll be a $60 million, two-phased project that will roll out over 10 years. Phase One, underway through 2024, includes securing $30 million to $40 million in funding — a step that organizers say is already in its final stages. This phase will also include the development of new education programs outside of the museum and a public art component, activated in May with a public mural titled “Over The Rainbow” by Miami-based artist Typoe and an exterior installation by artist Michael Loveland titled Social Sculpture, also of Miami. Additional public art installations by two Pittsburgh-based artists, scheduled for completion this summer, are also underway.

Phase Two, which will begin in 2024, will include additional fundraising across the entire Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, as well as construction of a new flagship live performance venue for concerts, additional performances, events and community rental spaces.

Organizers also say that the area will feature workforce development opportunities and a lab for creative entrepreneurs, along with other programs that will help guide local creatives and youth. Among them are a digital marketing certificate program and a youth empowerment program. 

“Andy continues to be emblematic of the American entrepreneurial spirit — a true agent of influence and change,” said Patrick Moore, The Warhol’s director and leader of the project, in a statement. “We now have the plan and resources to follow suit as an agent of change for Pittsburgh and an example of how creative communities throughout the country can be activated to boost and sustain a local economy through focusing on opportunities and experiences for young people.”

The Pop District is expected to generate $1 million in annual income for creative talent, creating more than 25 annual full-time and part-time jobs as well as “gig” work and internships. It will also aim to work with a majority BIPOC/LGBTQ+/immigrant workforce.

“Significant support” has come from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, along with endorsements from the city, state and local community groups. The Richard King Mellon Foundation is the lead funder of the Pop District, committing $15 million over the next three-and-a-half years, while the Henry L. Hillman Foundation has committed $10 million over four years. Discussions are underway with an array of other potential funders.

In a statement, Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, said the Pop District will complement the Cultural District on the other side of the river and bolster the local art scene.

“The goal of this project is to make sure the next Andy Warhol doesn’t have to leave Pittsburgh to become Andy Warhol,” he said. 

The Pop District is also closely aligned with the goal of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh as a whole, which aims to “turn the museums inside out,” the press release said. This means involving the community directly and addressing its real needs, thus creating a more welcoming and inclusive space for everyone.

More details, including the Pop District’s programming and real estate developments, will be announced in coming months.

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