Theater: Benedum Center’s 30 Year Milestone in September 2017





PITTSBURGH—The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is pleased to announce the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, 237 7th Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222, celebrated a 30 year anniversary on Monday, September 25, 2017, since its grand re-opening ceremonies (Friday, September 25, 1987) following a historic restoration of the theater under the auspices of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The theater has been a dynamic cultural icon throughout the years as a part of the City of Pittsburgh’s evolving Cultural District landscape.

“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is honored to celebrate the Benedum Center’s 30 year anniversary.  As part of the theater’s long-standing importance as a cultural beacon, the Cultural Trust expresses gratitude to everyone who has been involved in its history—past and present—and to everyone who will be part of its continued future for the cultural enrichment of all.  We are grateful to the late H. J. Heinz II and  his ‘Band of Dreamers’ for their vision and belief in the transformative power of the arts and the impact of a Cultural District for the benefit of this community and beyond,” shares J. Kevin McMahon, President and CEO, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Founding President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Carol R. Brown, comments, “While the transformation of the Stanley Theatre into the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts 30 years ago was the result of the vision and support of the Heinz Foundations, with significant leadership and support of the Benedum Foundation, it also marked the beginning of a unified community effort on the part of Pittsburgh’s philanthropy and cultural organizations to create a Cultural District in our downtown.”

The Benedum Center, formerly known as the Stanley Theatre, first opened its doors as a cultural establishment 89+ years ago on February 27, 1928 (90th milestone year takes place on February 27, 2018) and has operated under various ownerships throughout the years from 1928 to 1982.  The late H. J. Heinz II (1908-1987) focused his attention on the historic restoration of the Stanley Theater, and as a result, this became the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s first project after its founding in 1984.

From Curating the District How The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Is Transforming the Quality of Urban Life (2000), Prologue, “What I find particularly inspiring,” said H. J. Heinz II in 1983, “is that we here in Pittsburgh have a model for a Cultural Trust that . . . will surely be useful to other communities.”

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s historic restoration initiative would take approximately two years, carefully restoring the Benedum Center to look as the Stanley did on opening night, in 1928. The faithful restoration of this theater reflects the glories of America’s theatrical past and provides current day audiences a place to enjoy live performances by local, national and international performing artists.

The Benedum Center hosts on average 227 performances a year and is an important cultural component within the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s overall programming initiatives that bring more than 2,000 events yearly throughout the Cultural District.  The combined programming of all of the arts organizations who present performances and visual arts in the Cultural District draws over 2 million people to over 4,000 events.

Additionally, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is grateful to the support of both private and public sectors, the people in the community and visitors alike who come to enjoy live theater in the Cultural District, as well as to all of its boards, committees, staff, members and volunteers.  The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s volunteer program is an important aspect of the continued success of the Benedum and the Cultural District.  The Cultural Trust’s corps of professionally trained volunteers, currently numbering 488 on the volunteer roster, are dedicated and inspiring people from the community, of all ages and backgrounds, who play an important role by providing leadership, work to strengthen public awareness and appreciation of the arts and provide vital support services to the theater and its staff.  Kathy Rak has been a volunteer usher for 26 years and is on staff between 80 to 90 events a year at venues throughout the Cultural District.  Ms. Rak shares, “I enjoy greeting our theater guests and making sure they are happy to be there.  I love everything about being a volunteer – the other volunteers and event services manager Stacy Bartlebaugh-Gyms are like a family, providing not only support and service to our theater guests, but to each other as well.”

For more information about becoming a volunteer, visit For more information about the various memberships that help support the efforts of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to sustain the cultural and economic growth of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, visit:

Restoration Highlights & Facts of InterestBenedum Center for the Performing Arts

  • In 1928, the Stanley cost $3 million to build. In 1987, the Benedum Center cost $43 million to restore. As a movie house and venue for live acts, the Stanley Theatre was billed as “Pittsburgh’s Palace of Amusement.”   Regular admission cost 65 cents – 25 cents if you came before noon – and performances provided a welcome lift of spirits during the Great Depression.
  • The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts was named in honor of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, which made the largest contribution toward the restoration of the theater.
  • The Benedum Center opened on Friday, September 25, 1987, with a show called Purely Pittsburgh. It was written by Dan Langen and produced by Manuel Levine. The show featured composers from Pittsburgh and performers with a Pittsburgh connection.
  • There are over 90 crystal chandeliers, torchieres and sconces in the theater, all but one are original. The Central Brass Company located in Reading, Pennsylvania refurbished them.
  • The signature piece of the Benedum Center is the original main chandelier which weighs 4,700 pounds, is 20 feet high and 12 feet wide. It was restored in honor of the late H. J. Heinz II. Each year in mid-August, the theater’s main chandelier is carefully lowered for maintenance, preservation and a thorough hand cleaning of its thousands of crystals.
  • The Grand Lobby mirrors, marble and woodwork are all original.
  • At the landing on each staircase in the Grand Lobby are 18-foot high original mirrors meant to be reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.
  • There are 1,500 feet of brass rail in the theater, most of which is original.
  • Approximately 95% of the interior of the building is plaster. It took a fifteen person crew almost a full year to complete the plaster renovations.
  • The Benedum Center is registered with the National Register of Historic Places.

Download Benedum Center 30 Years Photo Media Kit:
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September-October 2017 Special Events – Benedum Center

The Rock ‘n’ Soul Gala Remembering The Stanley Theatre
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s 2017 annual Gala themed The Rock ‘n’ Soul Gala Remembering The Stanley Theatre took place on Friday, September 8 at the Benedum Center.  The event celebrated the theater’s iconic history, toasting its legacy in an evening filled with the rock and roll movement of the ‘60s, ‘70s and early ‘80s and a live performance by the band Vintage Trouble.  Lead sponsor of the Gala was KeyBank, and presenting sponsor was UPMC and UMPC Health Plan.

Doors Open Pittsburgh
In October, the Benedum Center will be one of several select host sites participating in the second annual Doors Open Pittsburgh.  The two-day event will be held on Saturday, October 7 and Sunday, October 8 and provides the community with a unique opportunity to visit a collection of iconic and newly designed architecture in various neighborhoods, including Downtown Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, Northside and the Strip District. The Benedum Center, 237 7th Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 will be open to guests with a Doors Open Pittsburgh ticket, on Sunday, October 8, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  For more information, tickets and schedule of events, visit

Cultural District
Pittsburgh’s third renaissance can be traced to H.J. “Jack” Heinz II, a founder of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Mr. Heinz envisioned a colossal transformation that would turn a city once called “hell with its lid off” into a thriving hub of world-class art and entertainment, buzzing with 24/7 activity. His vision was two-pronged: the arts could serve as a catalyst for economic, commercial and residential development of Downtown Pittsburgh, while enriching the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

Thirty plus years ago, when other U.S. cities may have abandoned their respective downtowns for strip malls and big-box stores, Pittsburgh’s Cultural District continues to thrive in preserving its historical significance by leveraging the power of the arts to create an authentic destination, as mentioned above: that now draws over 2 million visitors, arts lovers, students, residents and employers to over 4,000 events each year that are presented by all of the presenting arts organizations who produce and present their events in the District.  For more information about the Cultural District, visit:

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners.  Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization.  A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity.  Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life.  Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts.

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