It was reported in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that Paul Organisak, vice president in charge of programming for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, was stepping down from a position that he began in 2004. The truth is that he has been an important part of the dance community since 1988, when he became Director of Development for the Pittsburgh Dance Council under Carolelinda Dickey.
I can still recall his enthusiasm for dance and a passion that has never waned over these past 20-some years. Even though he never studied dance, it has been the art form that he held closest to his heart.
And that is the primary reason that we will miss him. Pittsburgh Dance Council is this city’s most adventurous series, bringing us the world in all of its diversity and excitement unlike any other. However, when Paul took over PDC and almost immediately folded it into the Trust, I had my doubts.
It proved to be a winning strategy as more arts organizations have come under the Trust umbrella, with the Dance Council maintaining a certain autonomy.
Now, in a time when dance organizations are fewer and far between, we still get the best here in Pittsburgh. I know, because I have gone to a number of dance critics conferences and found that I had interviewed almost all of the choreographers/panelists prior to their appearances in Pittsburgh.
It’s been that good and a great feeling to have Pittsburgh’s finger on the pulse of dance.
There was a tough spell when the U.S. government made it tough on foreign artists in granting visas and Paul played things a little safer. Then he admitted that subscriptions were down — PDC audiences wanted the unfamiliar, the surprising, the exotic. Since then, he has done that, with seasons that exceeded our expectations.
So now we’ve come to a crossroads. I feel that Paul has been a unwavering advocate for dance at the Trust, which is going on a national, even an international search to replace a Pittsburgh native who has logged more miles and more performances than he probably cares to admit.
It was all done with the purpose of bringing the finest in dance (he gradually added Broadway shows, the Cabaret series, the Trust presents, the International Festival of Firsts and assorted other international festivals that were some of the Trust’s finest efforts to his job description). That adds up to dozens of performances, always featuring new dance, something that I, for one, am grateful.
His gargantuan efforts have resulted in a robust arts atmosphere Downtown in the Cultural District, a real bonus to the quality of life in Pittsburgh.
Thank. You. Paul.