Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh, a joint venture of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, awarded $456,000 to Pittsburgh artists and programs, including 79 grants of $500 each to ensure that all artist applicants eligible for funding received support.
Since 2010, the initiative has awarded $6.1 million to support artists, increase the sustainability of cultural organizations that focus on Black arts, expand community awareness and support efforts to close the racial divide within the larger arts sector.
Grant awardees include:
Leigh Solomon Pugliano and Barrels to Beethoven: $25,000 to develop and implement SCALE, a residency program for Black women in music to provide much-needed resources, knowledge and support for music entrepreneurs who are disproportionately impacted by the local music ecosystem.
Bridgeway Capital Creative Business Accelerator: $25,000 for ORIGINS, a new initiative that provides guidance and opportunities to help Black artists, makers, designers and craftspeople build strong and sustaining creative businesses.
Guardians of Sound and LoRen Briggs: $15,000 to support Briggs’ yearlong residency as a teaching artist in singing, songwriting and music production with the Hip Hop Orchestra Music Instruction project for youth and the Acoustic Hip Hop Ensemble project for adults. Briggs also received a $9,850 grant to continue presenting the quarterly No Covers project to highlight the original work of talented but unknown performing artists in Pittsburgh.
August Wilson House/Daisy Wilson Artists Community: $20,000 to create a three-month visiting playwright fellowship associated with the legacy of August Wilson. The fellowship will include living and travel expenses and connections to Pittsburgh’s theater and artists community.
New Hazlett Theater and Monteze Freeland: $20,000 for the artist’s residency at the New Hazlett Theater, where he will develop and produce his musical comedy, “Kalopsia,” which focuses on mental health in the Black community.
Kelly Strayhorn Theater and Jasmine Hearn: $20,000 for Hearn’s ongoing project, A Patient Practice. Hearn’s residency centers on Black femmes, womyn, non-gender conforming and queer folx, and begins with one-on-one planning sessions with mentors, meetings to build a score and then practice and performance.
Michael Chapman: $10,000 to cover the creative and performance costs related to developing five blues/blues-rock, guitar-based Hip Hop pieces in collaboration with music artist and producer, Idasa Tariq.
Diarra Clarke: $10,470 for the production of “The Drop Out Kidz,” a docu-performance through which artists who have taken untraditional paths will share their work, build skills and engage in mentorship, financial literacy and community building.
Tomé Cousin: $10,705 for “VANDERZEE (Picture Takin’ Man),” a new media musical opera highlighting the life and career of Harlem Renaissance photographer James VanDerZee.
Christiane Dolores: $15,000 to develop “Navigating Earth Manual,” a compilation of 40 songs themed around love, chaos, liberation and joy on a four-CD set that includes music, images and videos that reflect the artist’s Afro-Punk, jazz, rock, deep house dub and punk influences.
sarah huny young: $15,000 to complete “AMERICAN WOMAN,” a documentary spanning five years and detailing the tumultuous and complicated relationship that Black women experience with America.
Akmed Khalifa: $12,650 to acquire hardware and software to support the artists’ ongoing literary work, including the publication and animation of a new children’s book, “Tamika and the Daylight Savings Bank,” and the development of a multi-genre novel.
Mikael Owunna: $15,000 to create the artist’s first live installation and performance piece, including collaborations in dance and audio-visual arts.
Ricardo Iamuuri Robinson: $15,000 for a year-long journey with musician, DJ and visual artist, La’Vender Freddy, a fictitious character of Robinson’s own invention. Their wild quest seeks to answer the American singer/songwriter, Marvin Gaye’s question, “What’s going on?”
yvette shipman: $15,000 to support CommuniTEA Blends, in which the artist facilitates and mediates intergenerational conversations with indigenous, LatinX and women from the African diaspora around racial injustice and the social and psychological ills it causes. Taking place over tea, the sessions center storytelling and multi-sensory engagement with the goal of connection and transformative change.
Harrison Smith: $15,000 to fund a series of cookouts and performances that celebrate and cultivate radical Black joy in response to police violence. The work will include video, photography and writing about the gatherings that will be exhibited and published along with contextualizing, analytical essays.
Wadria Taylor: $15,000 to build on the success of Style Week Pittsburgh and make fashion more diverse and inclusive by supporting Black artists. This includes the Sew Your Stitch project to connect up to 50 youth in underserved and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities to careers in fashion through a fashion show, awards ceremony and networking brunch.
Mariah Torres: $15,000 for the post-production phase of a half-hour comedy, “Rock Bottom,” to be included in the pitch packet to networks and streaming services. The biographical show focuses on the artist’s adventures chasing her dreams as an artist in New York City.
Tahirah Walker: $15,000 to support Black Book Lady, a literary arts organization that builds on the artist’s experiences as a writer, mother and daughter. The grant will allow Walker to pursue her dream of writing full-time, starting with stories about her relationship with her mother who died suddenly.
Alisha Wormsley: $15,000 to support “Children of NAN,” an archive of objects, photos, video footage, film, sounds, philosophies, rituals and performances that will serve as a survival guide for Black women by Black women, much like the Green Book documented safe travel for Black people. The archive will draw on ancient knowledge, art, social practice and mysticism.
Celeta Hickman: $20,000 for “Black Bead Story: The Digital Spectacles,” a series of seven short films, plus events called “spectacles” that feature the sacred, secular, Afrocentric and period designs of bead artist and accessories designer Celeta Hickman, and include public screenings, masquerade performances, wearable art and a catalog.
Muffy Mendoza: $20,000 for the “Brown Mama Monologues” traveling performance series, which uses the art of storytelling to redefine the American motherhood narrative to include the experiences of Black mothers. Storytellers will include mothers from the D.C. metro area, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia who will craft and share their stories in presentations in these cities.
Global Posse Productions: $20,000 to finish Mukwai Wabei Siyolwe’s documentary film, “Roofless.” The work shines a light on the correlation between displacement and how music-making in the Black diasporic communities of Pittsburgh and Rio de Janeiro includes the constant desire to find home after centuries of displacement, as well as a longing to connect through music back to their source: Africa.
Black Art Futures Fund and Women of Color in the Arts: Two grants of $5,000 each were made to these national arts organizations in response to the impact of systemic racism on Black-led organizations that the Movement for Black Lives has amplified, and to connect Pittsburgh-based artists with Black artists and arts programming that have a national profile, with the goal of elevating local artists, their artwork and the creative field.
SLB Radio for Project X: $5,000 to gather data, convene a team and define the operations framework to successfully launch Project X, a free online resource that creates a bridge between classrooms and exciting careers by offering authentic real-world lessons and projects. Led by Dennis Henderson, Project X will be designed in partnership with innovative companies including Pixar, Disney and filmmaker Ava DuVernay.
Legacy Arts Project for the Extraordinary People Next Door podcast: $5,000 to develop a project plan for launching the podcast created by Jason Orr and Amil Cook, which will highlight the stories of local everyday heroes.
SLB Radio for Long Exposure: $5,000 to support a collective of young Pittsburgh-based street photographers as they develop a full project proposal.
Community Empowerment Association: $3,000 for the Moving the Lives of Kids Community Mural Project to create a public art memorial in the center of Homewood.
The panel of artists and arts and culture professionals who made the selections includes Michael Canton, host/producer of “The Soul Show” on WYEP-FM Pittsburgh; Raymond Ejiofor, a dancer, choreographer and teaching artist based in Los Angeles; Kaisha S. Johnson, founding director of Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA); Faheem Majeed, an artist and resident of the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago; and Eva Wo, a West Philadelphia-based multimedia artist, photographer, curator and organizer.