Persad Center Announces Art for Change Pilot Program and Fundraising Gala

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The Persad Center will expand its mission as an LGBTQ health and wellness organization to support artists with a new pilot program announced ahead of the annual fundraising gala.

Persad launched its Art for Change program, described in a press release as “one of the most significant art auctions in the region.” Proceeds from the event will support the Lawrenceville-based center’s mission to “provide mental health services to the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV/AIDS.”

Unlike previous years, a new pilot program, as Persad CEO Marty Healy says, “will enable all artists participating in the gallery to receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their work.” The program will include a number of galleries curated by local artists and arts organizations, as well as an auction to sell donated works. Artists wishing to donate to the auction can now submit works via an online form.

A fundraising gala and art auction will be held Friday, September 9 on the AE stage on the north side.

“The positive link between art and mental health is strong and we know that creating art, whether it’s sculpture, drawing or painting, is known to reduce stress levels and promote mental peace,” Healy says, adding that the pandemic COVID-19 has “delivered a significant economic setback to the arts community and as a leading LGBTQ+ mental health organization in the region.”

Founded in 1972, Persad is touted as the second oldest LGBTQ mental health agency in the US, offering a variety of mental health and social support services to the region’s LGBTQ youth and adult populations.

The program marks a positive step for an organization that has experienced its share of controversy over the past few years. Chief among the complaints is Persad’s relationship with Healey and his Delta Foundation, which previously ran the city’s annual Pride events. In August 2020, activists demonstrated outside Healy’s private business on the South Side to protest Delta for a number of alleged abuses, including discrimination and exclusion of the black trans community and lack of transparency about what happened to funds earmarked for the canceled Pittsburgh Pride event in 2020

Tensions heightened when it was revealed that Delta had filed to trademark the term “Pittsburgh Pride” and “Pittsburgh PrideFest” after announcing it would disband. As reported by Pittsburgh City Paper in November 2021, the move outraged local LGBTQ groups, who even protested outside Persad’s offices, and led many to question the future of the city’s annual Pride celebrations.

Art for Change galleries are curated by Judy Barry, Madeline Gent and Steve Mendelson, as well as Garfield Boom Concepts and Contemporary Craft Gallery in Lawrenceville. The galleries are described as featuring a mix of artists and media chosen to “weave together a story that best represents their own aesthetic experience.”

In addition to curating their own galleries, participating artists and organizations, led by Art for Change Committee Chair Mia Tarducci, will also select 50 to 75 donated works to be juried in the gallery section of the show.

While the auction will cover the services offered by Persad, those who have donated artwork will receive 20% of the sales of the donated artwork, as well as one free ticket to the Art for Change gala and a discount code for 50% off your purchase on a second ticket.

“We are excited about our pilot program as it gives us the opportunity to give back and support the artist community, many of whom have supported Art for Change for the past 34 years,” says Healy. “Last year’s event was extremely successful, and we’re excited to share these changes, which we believe will help streamline the process and make this year’s event even more exciting.”

Persad Center Art for Change 2022. 18:30-23:00 17:00 for VIP ticket holders. Fri., Sept. 9. Stage AE. 400 N. Shore Drive, North Side. $150-375.

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