PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Millions visit the Cultural District every year. Security has become a top priority, with noticeable changes in effect and more coming.

“We want to make sure that we’re being very aware and responsible of what our duties are in terms of protecting all of our guests, all of our staff members,” said Kevin Wilkes, Chief Security Officer for the Cultural Trust.

Wilkes, a former Pittsburgh Police detective, took the position in May.

While it was put into place at the beginning of this year, Wilkes says they’re relaunching their policy on bag sizes.

“No bag larger than 16 by 16 by 8 will be permitted in any of our venues,” said Wilkes. “We wanted to make sure we were keeping up with the Jones’ so to speak and engaging in industry best practices.”

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Wilkes says the venues include their galleries, the Byham Theater, the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, Cabaret at Theater Square, and the August Wilson Center.

You’ll also notice new “See Something, Say Something” signs at the venues. Off-duty uniformed Pittsburgh Police have been stationed at the trust locations as well.

One of the big initiatives Wilkes took on, however, was to train the hundreds of volunteers who serve as ushers.

“All of our ushers just recently underwent a 90 minute core security training program,” said Wilkes. “We also provided them with emergency response training, in regards to fires, medical emergencies, evacuations, things of that sort.”

The guest code of conduct has been updated. Drugs, alcohol, and weapons of course are prohibited. But the extensive list also includes selfie sticks, pets, beach balls, drones and noise makers.

“The list is very comprehensive but you’d be surprised with some of the things some of the guests bring into our venues from time to time,” he said.

For more information, visit the Cultural Trust’s safety and security webpage here: https://www.trustarts.org/pct_home/visit/safety-security/

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