More donors than ever participated in the Pittsburgh Foundation’s fifth annual 24-hour race for matching funds for local nonprofits. But fewer overall dollars were given — something that might have more to do with a PittsburghGives rule change than with locals’ generosity.
Nearly 18,200 donors participated on Oct. 3, contributing $6.4 million to more than 720 groups, according to a statement from the Pittsburgh Foundation. That's up from 17,719 donors last year.
Combined with $750,000 in matching funds administered by the Pittsburgh Foundation, the donations placed about $7.15 million into the groups’ coffers. (A Day of Giving for Westmoreland County channeled a total of $575,000 to groups based there.)
However, despite the increase in people giving, the $6.4 million in public donations was a drop of nearly 10 percent from last year’s record of $7 million.
Given the regular growth in donations to PittsburghGives over the years, that drop likely had to do with the initiative's new rules for matching funds. This year, for the first time, only the first $1,000 given by each individual to any group would be matched. The previous cap was $10,000.
Pittsburgh Foundation spokesperson Christopher Whitlach said the lowered cap was meant to spread donations around more and increase the match percentage, measured in cents per dollar.
In Allegheny County, every donor dollar given this year became $1.13 for a favored group, up from $1.09 last year. And gifts of under $1,000, which last year totaled $4.1 million, this year totaled $6.8 million.
The group with the most donors was the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, with 1,245 donors. Next was the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (1,010), followed by 90.5 WESA (769), Animal Friends Inc. (757), WQED Multimedia (743) and the Animal Rescue League of Western PA (742).
In terms of funds donated by the public (not counting matching funds), the biggest recipients were the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (($191,547), the Food Bank ($176,137), Central Catholic High School ($122,640), Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh ($118,141), the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust ($115,544), Rodef Shalom Congregation ($98,652) and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh ($95,538).
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and cartoonist Joe Wos have reached an agreement over Wos’ use of the image of the giant rubber duck that’s part of the Trust’s Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts.
The gist is that the Trust won’t object to Wos’ “Quack N’ At” T-shirts as long as all of the proceeds benefit The Toonseum, the nonprofit museum of cartoon art he runs Downtown.
Wos had previously said that only a portion of the proceeds from T-shirt sales would benefit the Toonseum.
A few weeks back, Wos had upset the Trust by announcing he was taking orders for T-shirts bearing an image of artist Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck Project, plus the motto “Quack N’ At.” The Trust wrote Wos to ask him to stop selling the shirts because he was infringing on the festival and its own merchandise sales.
Wos refused, and in fact last Friday was selling “Quack N’ At” shirts at the Trust’s Rubber Duck Bridge Party, from a booth perhaps 100 yards from the Trust’s own official merchandise booth, featuring duck buttons, hats and T-shirts.
The party drew thousands who filled the Clemente Bridge and lined both sides of the river to witness the arrival by river of the 40-foot-tall inflatable yellow duck. Both booths seemed to be doing brisk business, though the line at the Trust booth was considerably longer.
But bygones appear to be bygones. Here’s the statement the Trust issued about 11 a.m. today:
“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Toonseum have come to a positive resolution regarding Quack N'at T-shirts with 100% of the proceeds now benefiting the non-profit Toonseum. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is an ardent supporter of Toonseum and independent artists. Both organizations share a common goal of getting people to flock to Pittsburgh's Cultural District for outstanding arts and entertainment. We look forward to focusing on the incredibly favorable attention the Rubber Duck Project is bringing our city.”
The Trust was not taking additional questions. Wos could not immediately be reached for comment.
Remember when we warned you that the corpse flower was about to bloom? Guess what? IT IS NOW BLOOMING. AS WE SPEAK. IF YOU ARE ANYWHERE IN OAKLAND OR SQUIRREL HILL, YOU CAN PROBABLY SMELL IT FROM YOUR HOUSE. OK, that's an exaggeration. But still.
Phipps Conservatory announced via email just after 7 p.m. tonight that the flower was in bloom, and that tonight and tomorrow, the conservatory will be open late — we mean super late. 'Til 2 a.m. So that you can come and experience the worst-smelling plant on the planet. More info on Phipps' website, here. It could be in bloom for as little as 24 hours, so get there ASAP if you want to smell it!
As we noted yesterday, the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved the expansion plans of Lawrenceville's Thunderbird Cafe.
The board granted the adjustments and variances sought by Lawrenceville Holdings VI LP as long as the city's zoning administrator reviews the final site plans and that developers provide a plan for valet parking within 30 days.
In response to the ruling, community groups Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation sent out a statement yesterday saying they would appeal the decision.
Thunderbird owners and developers say they are pleased with the ruling and are flummoxed by the LC/LU response. Chris Lasky, Vice President of Massaro CM Services LLC and designer/consultant on the plan, sent us this statement:
The city's Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved the expansion of Lawrenceville's Thunderbird Cafe.
In the ruling issued July 11, the ZBA approved the variances and special exceptions requested by Lawrenceville Holdings VI LP as long as the city's zoning administrator reviews the final site plans and that developers provide a plan for valet parking within 30 days.
As City Paper reported in April, club owner John Pergal is pursuing a $3 million project that would consolidate several properties in the block between 41st Street and Almond Way along Butler Street. The plan would create a new two-story building that will house an expanded Thunderbird, raising the venue's capacity from 246 to 600, and a new three-story building that would hold a restaurant kitchen and residential units above. Pergal wants to expand his concert venue to have more of a "supper club" feel.
After an April 11 hearing before the ZBA, at attorney representing community groups Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation filed a "Findings of Fact" detailing concerns with the plan. In it's ruling, the ZBA said the expansion would not be a detriment to the neighborhood and wrote that "an unnecessary hardship would result if the variance is denied, and that the proposed use would not be contrary to public interest — it would, in fact, enhance the public interest."
In a statement emailed to the Lawrenceville community this afternoon, the LU and LC wrote that the decision was disappointing, and that "It is clear that the proposed project will have an detrimental impact the neighborhood. LU and LC are working with legal counsel to appeal the ZBA decision."
I've emailed Chris Lasky, vice president of Massaro CM Services LLC and designer/consultant on the plan, for comment on the ruling and we'll post that as it becomes available.
Nakama Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar is no longer part of the redevelopment of the Central North Side block home to a now-defunct adult-movie house.
Wayne Zukin, the project’s developer, confirmed Nakama’s withdrawal this afternoon in an email to City Paper.
In January 2012, the steakhouse chain with a flagship location on the South Side had signed a lease to take over the former Masonic Temple Building on West North Avenue, right next to the old Garden.
Phone messages left yesterday and today for Nakama’s owners were not returned. Nakama has satellite locations in Heinz Field, PNC Park and CONSOL Energy Center. There is also a Nakama in Long Island, N.Y.
The lease signing for Nakama’s space at the Garden project last January was marked by a press conference featuring Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. It was the first lease signed at the site since the Garden Theatre closed in 2007, and was hailed as a big step in the neighborhood’s revitalization.
Messages to Zukin were prompted after yesterday’s announcement that nonprofit arts and human-rights group City of Asylum/Pittsburgh would locate its new literary center in the three storefronts on the first floor of the Masonic Temple — the space formerly to be occupied by Nakama. But until today it was unclear publicly whether Nakama was still involved in the redevelopment project.
COAP president Henry Reese says he’d heard in November that the space might be available and contacted the developer. At the time, Reese says, COAP was preparing to resubmit plans for the center, called Alphabet City, to the city after a court ruling upheld a zoning appeal by neighbors objecting to the project.
But Reese says the West North Street location is in many ways a better fit for Alphabet City, which itself will include a small restaurant along with a bookstore and performance space. It is more centrally located and more visible to street traffic than the original location.
Other announced projects on the Garden block appear to be proceeding, including apartment units and a new restaurant in the old theater space run by the owners of Lawrenceville’s Piccolo Forno.
Barbara Talerico, president of the Allegheny City Central Association, says the loss of Nakama wouldn't hinder the redevelopment project. "Things change over time," she says. "We think that the whole block itself is really very exciting. There'll be a good mix of all the neighbors and all the visitors to the area."
The Pittsburgh Public Market will move to 2401 Penn Avenue this summer, its managers and city officials announced this morning.
The one-story, 31,816-square-foot building owned by the Horton Corporation is across the street from Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle Irish Pub, less than a mile from the market's current location in the historic Produce Terminal on Smallman Street.
The market will move into the full space, according to market manager Tiffani Emig, under a three-year lease that includes options to renew for up to six more years.
The lease is contingent on raising the funding needed for infrastructure improvements, such as building out cooking facilities for vendors and adding an entryway on Penn Avenue. Emig declined to discuss the amount needed to be raised in order for the deal to go forward.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority awarded a $40,000 grant earlier this year for market's relocation.
She says the market will remain in its current spot until 2401 Penn Avenue is secured and renovations completed.
The Pittsburgh Public Market has called the Terminal home since 2010, although the idea was that it would be a temporary location, according to Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip.
The market is a nonprofit subsidiary of the neighborhood group.
The Buncher Company has plans to demolish the part of the Terminal where the market is now to make way for a development that would include a hotel, retail and office spaces between the Veterans Bridge and 21st Street, connecting the Strip District properties to the river. The timeline for the project is unclear. The company backed out of a plan to put together a tax financing deal with the city after City Councilor Patrick Dowd stalled the legislation needed to move it forward earlier this year.
The market's lease expired Dec. 31. It has been operating on a month-to-month rental agreement since then. The Buncher Company had not set a deadline for when it would need to move, Rodgers said.
As City Paper reported in January, when news first broke that a new building had been located, vendors said they were looking forward to the changes, and hoping a move would offer a chance to re-brand the market.
Emig says one decision already made is that the market will be open five days a week in the new location.
The Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh announced this morning the launch of a website intended to help their campaign against an effort to create a Lawrenceville business district.
The website, www.nobid.org, is an attempt to make registering opposition to the district easier — offering a templated form and walking property owners through the steps they need to ensure their "no" votes are counted.
Spearheaded by the Lawrenceville Corporation, the district, if approved, would assess an additional tax of $10 per foot of commercial property on about 350 property owners along Butler Street and Penn Avenue in order to raise money to enhance services ordinarily provided by local government, such as street cleaning and light-pole maintenance. (For more details, see this Jan. 16 City Paper story.)
Once proposed, improvement districts fail only if owners of 40 percent or more of the affected property owners actively object by registering their disapproval with the city clerk's office. Otherwise, the owners are assumed to support the proposal.
Property owners have until Feb. 28 to "vote" by sending a letter of objection to the City Clerk. At least 140 property owners will have to speak in opposition for the proposal to be halted. Otherwise, it will go to Pittsburgh City Council for a vote.
Way back in 2010, we wrote about local musician, artist, and party facilitator Ali Spagnola, who had become embroiled in a legal battle over Power Hour, a drinking game in which participants drink a shot of beer every minute for an hour.
It wasn’t the game itself in question, but rather Spagnola’s right to use the name Power Hour for her album of 60 upbeat, one-minute booze-themed drink-a-long songs (think Liz Phair meets Andrew WK.) A man named Steve Roose had released and trademarked a Power Hour DVD in 2000 — essentially a video stop-watch which, through a series of burps and goofy dares, tells viewers when to drink — and claimed to own the rights to the name Power Hour. He issued Spagnola a cease-and-desist, which would require her to remove all Power Hour videos from her website, stop selling her CD, and put an end to her raucous bring-your-own-shot-glass live shows.
Spagnola decided to challenge Roose, launching a fundraising campaign to help pay for a lawyer, and — in the mean time — has made headlines on various tech news sites with her Shot Glass USB party pack, a plastic shot glass attached to a USB loaded with her album.
This morning, Spagnola released this video announcing that —three years and over $30,000 in legal fees later — it’s a win for Team Spagnola, and competitive drinkers everywhere. The court ruled that the term “Power Hour” is descriptive of the game, and therefor cannot be owned by anyone.
The decision is, of course, a huge relief for Spagnola. “When we first started, my lawyer predicted that high end it could get to $10,000," she tells CP. "I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t know if I want to go through with this. But I couldn’t let [Roose] push me around.” When they passed the projected $10,000 mark, Spagnola knew there was no turning back. “You’re in this tunnel where you don’t see the end, but you know you’ve gone so far into the investment. I couldn’t give up.”
Now, as she says in the video, “It’s time for a victory lap.” She’s left her “safe career” to pursue music full time, and has launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the Power Hour Freedom Victory tour. A donation of just $1 gets you a download of the album, which Spagnola hopes will get listeners pumped enough to come out and party at one of her live shows.
Last summer, you might've read our short review of a new Bob Mintzer album recorded live at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild.
Turns out Gordon Spencer wasn't the only one who liked For the Moment; last night, the album received two Grammy nominations: one for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album, and one for Best Instrumental Arrangement, for the song "Irrequieto."
The album was recorded live at MCG in September 2011. The MCG Jazz label has won four Grammys in the past for albums by artists including Paquito D'Rivera.
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