Lights On!: A Celebration of the Arts in the Cultural District

Shemekia Copeland, one of the nations top blues vocalists, is a Mainstage performer at this year's Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. (photo: Mike White)

Shemekia Copeland, one of the nations top blues vocalists, performs Thursday night at Lights On! (photo: Mike White)

The ghost light has been on at the Cultural District stages since March of 2020. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and their affiliates have filled the void with virtual entertainment performances and outdoor shows. Soon the Cultural Trust will be turning off the ghost light and turning back on the stage lights for in-person, indoor performances, with covid precautions.

To celebrate this momentous time, the Cultural Trust and its affiliates are presenting a cornucopia of entertainment performances of many different genres. The Lights On! festivities kick off Thursday, September 9 at 5 p.m. at the Allegheny Overlook Pop-up park on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and will run through Saturday, September 11. All events are free to the public thanks to Cultural Trust, the performing arts companies, and Allegheny County RADical Days 2021. Lights On! also marks the official start of RADical days.

Pittsburgh Opera's Downtown Divas will be singing on Saturday afternoon. (photo: Pittsburgh Opera).

Pittsburgh Opera’s Downtown Divas will be singing on Saturday afternoon. (photo: Pittsburgh Opera).

Lights On! will open at 5 p.m. Thursday with remarks from Jeremy Waldrup, President and CEO, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Terri Bell, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Mayor William Peduto, and Diane Holder, Executive Vice President, UPMC.

The celebration is produced by the Cultural District organizations: August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Public Theater, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Conductor Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra perform a preview of pieces from their upcoming season on Friday night. (photo: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra).

Conductor Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra perform a preview of pieces from their upcoming season on Friday night. (photo: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra).

Blues-rock singer Shemekia Copeland, who was a headlining musician this summer for the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival, returns to Pittsburgh Thursday night to put some added firepower into the local arts and entertainment celebration.

Other highlights over the three-day Lights On! celebrations include: The Playlist: Live Music, Inspired by Comedy, Arcade Comedy Theater; Excerpts from the full-length ballet Napoli Three – 4,6,8, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre; Barefoot in the Park…in the Park, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: A Season Preview; Downtown Divas, Pittsburgh Opera; The Nth Power, August Wilson African American Cultural Center; and Pittsburgh CLO: Love, Laugh, Sing!.

Musical highlights include performances by The Flow Band, Howie Alexander Project, House of Soul Band, Azúcar, 1Hood, The Deryck Tines Gospel Singers, Dwayne Dolphin Quartet, Byron Nash and Sierra Sellers, and Hugo Cruz and Caminos.

Sierra Sellers and Byron Nash perform Friday evening.

Sierra Sellers and Byron Nash bring their musical talents to the stage Friday evening.

And the cherry on the top of the Lights On! cake is that the Cultural Trusts’ Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District and Crawl After Dark are once again in-person events and happening on Friday evening.

In addition to the Cultural District companies, organizations from the greater Pittsburgh arts community will also be featured, including 1Hood, Alumni Theater Company, Arcade Comedy Theater, Attack Theatre, Azúcar, Balafon West African Dance Ensemble, Bill Nunn Theatre Project, Byron Nash and Sierra Sellers, Demaskus Theatre Company, Dixie Surewood and Friends Drag Show!, Dreams of Hope, Dwayne Dolphin Quartet, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Restart the Artsmobile, House of Soul Band, Howie Alexander Project, Hugo Cruz and Caminos, Jack Swing Band, JM the Poet, Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, Simone Davis, STAYCEE PEARL dance project and Soy Sos, Texture Contemporary Ballet, The Deryck Tines Gospel Singers, The Flow Band, Tubby Daniels Band, and Yanlai Dance Academy.

Performances will take place across three outdoor stages, five galleries, one theater, and one arts truck. The outdoor stages include the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Allegheny Overlook Park on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Mobile Stage at the 8th Street Parking Lot at Penn Avenue, and the Trust Oasis on 7th Street. The galleries include SPACE, Wood Street Galleries, 707 Penn Gallery, 820 Liberty Gallery, and 937 Liberty Gallery. Films will play at various times in the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Harris Theater, and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s Restart the Arts Artsmobile is set to make an appearance during Lights On! For more information and the schedule of events visit the Cultural Trust’s Lights On! web page.

Masks are not required for outdoor events, but are required for entrance into Cultural Trust indoor events.

Rick Handler is the executive producer of Entertainment Central.