Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Hosts Downtown New Year's Eve Celebration Today

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announced the vibrant programming planned for this year's New Year's Eve celebration, scheduled to take place in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh's Cultural District today, December 31, 2013. Perennial Pittsburgh favorites, in addition to a few new and exciting events, are intended to highlight the history of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh and commemorate 20 years of the family-friendly community celebration.

"We are proud to support Highmark First Night Pittsburgh as a family-friendly, community event," said Dan Onorato, executive vice president, Highmark. "Our support is focused on ensuring that the event is accessible to the entire community and offers a great experience to the young and young at heart of our region."

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2014 is produced by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust with generous support from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the event's longtime supporter and returning presenting sponsor. Highmark First Night Pittsburgh provides the city with a chance to ring in the new year while celebrating the arts: dance, music, theater, comedy, magic, visual art and film, plus hands-on activities for children and adults.

"Through this year's exciting programming, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is able to illuminate how relevant the event was, and continues to be, to the cultural fabric of our city," says Darcy Kucenic, Director of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. "The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is grateful to the vision of former Mayor Tom Murphy and to Jamee Todd, the founders of First Night Pittsburgh. The Trust is also grateful to Highmark for its third consecutive year as the presenting sponsor of the region's largest New Year's event."

Soul/R&B and Funk sensation Charles Bradley AND HIS EXTRAORDINAIRES will headline the 20th anniversary celebration, performing on the Highmark Stage in downtown Pittsburgh's Cultural District. Bradley transcended a bleak life on the streets and struggled through a series of ill-fitting jobs - most famously as a JAmes Brown impersonator at Brooklyn clubs - before finally being discovered by Daptone's Gabe Roth. "Sometimes performances are that special, where words can't re-create them...a classic showman...he sells every syllable, dropping to his knees, outstretching his arms, shaking his hips. And that voice [is] both pleading and plaintive, anguished and extraordinary." - Los Angeles Times, SXSW review. This can't-miss performance will be accompanied by the Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale: the countdown to midnight, raising of the 1,000 lbs. ball 150 feet in the air above Penn Avenue Place, and a spectacular Zambelli fireworks finale!

New attractions include a special one-time ICE LABYRINTH. Visitors can experience a fully immersive 5 ft. high and 40 ft. x 40 ft. walk-through maze of giant ice blocks, specially designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Highmark First Night Pittsburgh with LED lighting, carved and designed by Ice Creations' Rich Bubin. The ice labyrinth will be located next to Fire & Ice Plaza at the 8th Street parking lot, which will again feature Ice Creations and Steel Town Fire. Playwright FJ Hartland and his award-winning play Funeral in the Rain will be presented as well as a new visual art exhibition by Edinboro University curated by Bruce Gallery. The exhibit will act as a conduit of art between Pittsburgh, Erie, and Edinboro. By working with the community, TRANSPOSE will install a short-term Pop-up gallery installation at 820 Liberty Avenue. iQ Kids Radio, a commercial-free, family-friendly educational radio station developed by WQED Multimedia and SLB Radio Productions, Inc., will host a dance party in EQT Plaza to celebrate one year of the web radio station! Attendees can enjoy a DJ dance party and a make-and-take craft.

It Was the Coldest Winter Ever, a special variety show by Miniature Curiosa will create a miniature city from medicine cabinets, desk lamps, Victorian dollhouses, and repurposed junk. Inside, amongst the tiny copper-wire trees and within the cramped bedrooms of the pocket-sized residents, puppeteer Zach Dorn reveals the miniature city's hidden stories. Equipped with video technology, Dorn sends digital cameras through the cardboard streets, projecting puppet performances for children and adults alike. Also new this year, Bricolage Production Company will present First Look First Night: an immersive urban adventure where audiences will be invited to embark on a personal 30-40 minute journey interacting with the world of art. Part game and part performance, First Look: First Night is an experience unlike any found on a stage, taking its audience on an actual journey through various city locations.

The WYEP Music Station on the 4th floor of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Education Center (805/807 Liberty Avenue) will feature Joy Ike and Broken Fences. In the Pierce Studio of the Trust Arts Education building, Sean Jones will lead the Mission Statement 2014 Reunion Band in a 10th anniversary performance. The Pittsburgh jazz group was founded in 2004 and played regularly at Dowe's on 9th, the former Cultural District jazz club.

The FedEx Ground Parade at 8:00 p.m. is themed "Special Delivery" and features Grand Marshals Mr. McFeeley, First Night Pittsburgh founders, Former Mayor Tom Murphy and Jamee Todd, giant puppets, art cars, marching bands, and a bicycle parade.

Included within the nearly 150 arts-focused and family-friendly events being held in nearly 50 indoor and outdoor venues throughout the Cultural District is the Country Rock band sensation NOMaD on Dollar Bank Stage kicking things off at 6:00 p.m. along with the Dollar Bank Children's Fireworks Display. Equitable Gas Marquee Performances will include Pittsburgh favorite Johnny Angel & the Halos at the Benedum Center and the River City Brass at the Byham Theater. Other vouchered performances include magician Jason Hudy at CAPA's Auditorium, juggler and yo-yoer Mark Hayward at the Highmark Auditorium, First Night Comedy Club at the Cabaret at Theater Square, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School performing in the August Wilson Center Theater.

Attack Theatre will also perform in the August Wilson Center Theater during the evening. Attack Theatre's public debut was on December 31, 1994, at the inaugural First Night Pittsburgh celebration. Founders Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza choreographed and produced five different performances throughout downtown Pittsburgh, working with over 25 artists that one evening. With the then First Night Pittsburgh directors Jamee Todd and Donna Goyak, Peter and Michele served as First Night programming associates. This 20th anniversary celebration marks Attack Theatre's 12th year of participation in First Night Pittsburgh. Over the past 19 years, Attack Theatre has created original performances and installations for First Night Pittsburgh including a world premiere of Resolution Café, the ever-popular Bag Attack Boogaloo, a 5,000-person kazoo concert in Market Square, a 2,000-person game of musical chairs on Liberty Avenue, and more.

First National Bank Family Tent with hands-on activities for kids and adults. The First National Bank Family Tent hosts activities for all ages, led by community groups like the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Citiparks, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh International Children's Theater, and more, including everyone's favorite hometown sports mascots!

First Night Food Trucks will return at a new location in the parking lot at 9th Street and Penn Avenue, as will the enormous Penn Avenue Big Screen located at 6th Street and Penn Avenue, full of surprises and throwback images celebrating the past 20 years of First Night Pittsburgh!

All programming is subject to change. Updates will be posted online at TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH. The Highmark First Night Pittsburgh website provides even more event details and allows users to sort through the schedule of events and customize plans. TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH is mobile-friendly and will allow smartphone users to plan on-the-go during New Year's Eve.

ADMISSION: All-Access Highmark First Night Pittsburgh buttons (worn by attendees) are available beginning December 5, 2013 at participating Giant Eagle locations; online at www.TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH; by phone at 412-456-6666; or at The Box Office at Theater Square, located at 655 Penn Avenue. Buttons cost $8 in advance or $10 night-of-event. Children age 5 and under are admitted FREE.

Some indoor performances also require seating vouchers, which are free tickets. They must be reserved to ensure theaters do not fill beyond capacity. Vouchers can be reserved starting December 5th by phone or at The Box Office at Theater Square only. Events requiring vouchers are listed at TrustArts.org/FirstNightPGH.

Want your vouchers sooner? Our VIP package, entitled "First Night Friends," allows members to purchase vouchers beginning December 5th for priority seating, access, parking, and more! For more information on becoming a part of this special sponsorship opportunity, call 412-471-6086.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, a production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is an arts-focused and family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Pittsburgh's Cultural District. It is the largest single-day celebration in the region offering around 150 events at nearly 50 indoor and outdoor locations within the 14-block Cultural District. The celebration offers something for everyone.

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. 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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