Last night at the New Hazlett Theater, artist Lenka Clayton and Conflict Kitchen founder Jon Rubin took to the stage in thanks of their Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards. Learn more about them and their exemplary work in these outstanding videos produced for the annual awards ceremony , shot and directed by Emmai Alaquiva, the Emmy-award winning entrepreneur (@emmai_alaquiva  on Twitter and Instagram).

The awards are funded by the Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation. Both Clayton, who won as Emerging Artist, and Rubin, who won as Established Artist, will receive $15,000. At the event, Rubin announced his intention to use the money to expand on his highly controversial program of Palestinian food and culture, after reading a statement by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant that disassociated the foundation from Conflict Kitchen during the controversy. Rubin then read another statement that later appeared on the Heinz Endowments website expressing support of artists’ freedom of expression. Rubin suggested that foundations add a “freedom of expression clause” to their grantmaking policy.

Earlier, in his welcoming remarks, Grant Oliphant talked about celebrating art that gets us thinking in new ways “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable even if the comfortable you’re afflicting happens to be your funders.”

The awards are named in honor of Carol R. Brown, who as President of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from 1986 to 2001, led the transformation of downtown Pittsburgh’s cultural district. The  “no strings attached” awards are based on career achievement and the promise of future work and are given annually to two local artists. Last year Tami Dixon and Roger Humphreys were the recipients.

Lenka Clayton, the Emerging Artist recipient. Photo by Emmai Aliquava
Lenka Clayton, the Emerging Artist recipient. Photo by Emmai Alaquiva.

The staff at NEXTpittsburgh writes about the people driving change in the region and the innovative and cool things happening here.