Persad Center’s Art for Change returns to Stage AE in September

The late 1980s was a particularly scary time to be part of the LGTBQ community. It was then that the Persad Center, a local organization dedicated to improve the well-being of the LGTBQ community, decided to use art to bring about change.

“Back then, we didn’t have rainbow colors on the streets or pride parades,” says Marty Healy, CEO of the Persad Center. “It was a scary time for all of us and we just wanted to find a way to help the community move forward.”

The center launched its first Art for Change event 34 years ago to raise funds for people living with HIV. This year’s event takes place on Friday, September 9, with several upgrades including a new location – AE Stage on the North Side.

Art for Change 2021 at This Is Red. Photo courtesy of David Bachman.

The new location promises a new, sleeker branding of the event, says event committee member Bob Sendall. Attendees can try dishes from Sendall’s Everything in Bon Goût Productions as they watch live drag performances.


Although Art for Change is a fundraiser for the organization, participating artists will receive 20% of the sales of their work at the auction.

“It’s really important for the arts community to understand how much we appreciate them, especially in this time of economic downturn,” says Mia Tarducci, artistic chair of the event.

art for change

“Pride” by Arellano Gustavo, featured in the 2022 Art for Change auction. Photo courtesy of Persad Center.

Tarducci leads the art selection process with Judy Barie, Director of Galleries at the Chautauqua Institution; Madeline Gent, executive director of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh; DS Kinsel, co-founder of BOOM Concepts at Garfield; Rachel Saul Rearick, Executive Director of Contemporary Craft; and Steve Mendelson, owner of the Mendelson Gallery in Shadyside. In a new twist on the festivities, each President will host its own gallery for the event, with over 125 pieces featured in the auction.

Auction highlights include a photo by Elton John from the Herb Ritts Foundation and a work by renowned New York photographer Mike Ruiz, as well as a work by renowned American artist Keith Haring. This year’s auction will also include works by Maryland artist Anita Henley Carrington, Washington DC artist Wayne Hollowell, Chris Lopez from Florida and Mark Wardel from London. Local artists are also contributing to the 2022 event, including Baron Batch, Michael Lotenero, Ellen Chisdes Neuberg and Burton Morris.

All artwork will be sold through silent auctions – which will take place throughout the evening – and live auctions, which will feature a handful of the greatest pieces.

“We’ll be closing galleries one by one, so if people miss out on an artwork they wanted, they can bid on another somewhere else,” says Healy.


General admission tickets are $150, and the VIP experience, which includes valet parking, early access to the galleries, and your name listed as “friend of Persad” in the program book, is $375. VIP Experience tickets must be purchased before September 1st. To buy tickets here.

The Persad Center provides services to the LGBTQ and HIV-positive community regardless of a client’s ability to pay, and the money raised from the event will allow the center to see more clients.


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