J. Kevin McMahon, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, plans to retire at the end of this year. Under McMahon’s two decades of dedicated leadership, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust advanced downtown Pittsburgh’s cultural and economic transformation. In addition, it continued to earn international, national, regional, and local recognition for how a non-profit organization can utilize the arts as a catalyst for urban revitalization.
“It has been an absolute honor to serve Pittsburgh for the past 21 years and be a part of a community that has generously supported and attended tens of thousands of events and programs in Pittsburgh’s vibrant Cultural District,” said McMahon. “The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is in a strong position today because of the incredible collaboration among our amazing team of highly passionate and skilled professionals. Hundreds of loyal volunteers, community leaders on our boards, our wonderful arts partners and resident companies, and the visionary philanthropic supporters who have created a solid foundation for arts and culture to continually evolve and thrive for the betterment of Pittsburgh and the region.”
Under McMahon’s guidance, the Cultural Trust has become renowned for attracting over two million people annually to more than 2,000 performing arts events, festivals, visual arts exhibitions, public art installations and education programs. In addition to growing audiences, he has strengthened the organization's health, setting the stage for long-term success. He nurtured an innovative shared services program that increased efficiencies and created millions of dollars in cost savings among Cultural District arts organizations. McMahon cultivated a loyal base of donors, guiding the increase of annual members to over 15,000 individuals who, along with significant foundation, corporate, and government support, make the work of the Cultural Trust possible. The organization did not incur an annual operating deficit until the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the arts industry nationwide. He was instrumental in securing several multimillion-dollar gifts to support the Trust's multi-faceted mission. As a result, the Cultural Trust's annual budget grew from $20 million to $85 million, placing it within the top five performing arts centers in the United States. It helped raise over $400 million in contributions during his tenure at the Cultural Trust.
Highlights during his tenure include starting the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, which brought the Florentijn Hofman's beloved The Rubber Duck Project to the Allegheny River; the presentation of geographically-targeted arts and culture festivals including the Quebec, Australia, Distinctively Dutch, and India in Focus festivals. In addition, the Pittsburgh premiere of several internationally-renown theater companies, including the Globe Theatre and Dublin's Gate Theatre, increased the scope of the Broadway in Pittsburgh series with such blockbuster events as Disney's The Lion King, Wicked, and Hamilton, and the launch of the very popular Cultural District Gallery Crawls.
"The wonderful thing about the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is that it is not only an impactful organization, but it is also a glorious concept that ties directly to Pittsburgh's DNA," states McMahon. "With a great idea and a get-it-done spirit, anything is possible. I look forward to the next chapter of the Cultural Trust's incredible story, and I am forever thankful that I was given the privilege to pen a few pages."
While retiring from his role at the Cultural Trust, McMahon plans to continue teaching as an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He also intends to continue spending time in the Cultural District. In addition, McMahon looks forward to taking a seat among theatergoers—no longer concerned about how the production on stage came to be, now focused simply on enjoying the show.