Xan Phillips. Photo by Rayni Shiring.

Money from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott helped Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh, a joint program of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, to award 49 grants totaling $1.61 million, the largest annual distribution in the 12-year history of the program.

Scott gave the initial $2 million in June 2021 to help support Black-led organizations and those serving a substantial or primarily Black audience.

“Black artists and arts organizations in our community exhibit amazing talent and productivity, despite a continuing struggle to secure sufficient funding,” Pittsburgh Foundation President and CEO Lisa Schroeder said in a statement announcing the grants on Nov. 30.

Since 2010, the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program has awarded more than $9.4 million to help individual artists and to increase the sustainability of cultural organizations that support Black arts.

“The energy, insight and skill that these Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grantees bring to their work is exemplary,” Heinz Endowments Vice President of Creativity Janet Sarbaugh said in a statement.

Below are the 2022 Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh awardees:

Nat Sampson (higu rose).

Advancing the field grants totaling $54,109:

  • Vania Evangelique Arthur ($25,000) for a three-day Afro Art Fest in September 2023.
  • Bunker Projects ($4,109) to Harrison Smith for the continuation of the “Hands-Off” series.
  • Equity Impact Center ($25,000) to Leigh Solomon Pugalino for the expansion of the SCALE Fellowship showcase.

Culturally relevant residency grants totaling $60,000:

  • ALMA|LEWIS ($20,000) for a three-month residency through an artist’s honorarium.
  • DEMASKUS Theater Collective ($20,000) for residency costs related to production and other associated expenses.
  • Protohaven ($20,000) for fees associated with using workshop spaces, material stipends and other costs associated with the residency.

Individual artist grants totaling $231,645:

  • Lyndon Barrois Jr. ($10,100) for a residency at LATITUDE in Chicago and two exhibitions, one in Seattle and the other in Portland.
  • Christine McCray-Bethea ($15,000) for work on her project “African American Quilting Conceptualized as American Kuba Cloth,” which will be a series of African American quilts inspired by Kuba textile abstraction.
  • Hugo Cruz Machado ($15,000) for the teaching of five workshops at the Afro-American Music Institute about AfroCuban music and traditions.
  • Deavron Dailey ($15,000) for the creation of a new body of work as a part of a project called CounterpART.
  • Addoley Dzegede ($11,020) for a nine-month research project that started in September 2022 exploring collections in Dutch institutions to add to her growing knowledge of the history of wax print.
  • Petra Floyd ($15,000) for in the continued development of work titled “Before the DJ Was Sound, and She Played It.”
  • atiya jones ($15,000) for a solo exhibition titled “The Wanderer” at 707 Gallery.
  • Michael Moorman Goode ($5,610) for the creation and distribution of a children’s book about the environment that includes seeds.
  • Xan Phillips ($15,000) for the production of a book of poetry titled “Spectacle.”
  • Ricardo Robinson ($15,000) for the production of a catalog of publicly accessible recordings titled “The Sunscreen Conspiracy.”
  • Nat Sampson ($14,915) for the production of the second volume of the comic series “YINZ CITY.”
  • Marquita Sams ($15,000) for the production of a dance film titled “The Four World Ages.”
  • Harrison Kinnane Smith ($15,000) for the continuation of his project titled “Sed Valorem.”
  • Steffan Triplett ($15,000) for the completion and promotion of his two non-fiction manuscripts, “GOOD GOD” and “THIS ISN’T WHAT I WANT.”
  • Tahirah Walker ($15,000) for the creation of a book composed of letters, short stories and poems about the experience of being a Black woman in Pittsburgh.
  • ChaRon White ($10,000) for the completion of his audio-visual album and experience titled “Watching You Watching Me.”

Planning grants totaling $15,000:

  • Tyesha Clarke ($5,000) for research into the identification of resources and learning opportunities for aspiring experiential designers and immersive artists, and to locate and engage Black collaborators and current professionals within the discipline.
  • Michelle P. Ellison ($5,000) for the production of her memoir.
  • Eliyah Roberts ($5,000) for the writing of a musical that tells the story of a little Black girl wanting to follow her dreams and the obstacles that she overcame to achieve them.
Students in the BlackteaBrownsuga Network’s first summer program. Photo by Ishara Henry.

Project support grants totaling $160,000:

  • Barrel & Flow Festival, Lamar Bracey ($20,000) for compensation for Black speakers, performers and artists presenting at the Barrel & Flow Festival.
  • City Theatre Company Inc., Monteze Freeland ($20,000), on behalf of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center and DEMASKUS Theater Collective, for production of a musical, including artistic team fees, payroll, transportation, housing, physical production resources and marketing.
  • Eshu DLC, Ahmed Bey ($20,000) for the production of a new tabletop role-playing game called “Crimson Codex.”
  • Sabira Cole Film Festival, Ogechi Chieke ($20,000) for the 2022 Sabira Cole Film Festival and after-party, which was built upon Sabira Cole’s Sembene: the Film and Arts Festival, which screens a curated selection of new and old films from the African diaspora.
  • Pittsburgh Glass Center, Rachel Niederberger ($20,000) for direct artist costs, program expenses, promotional costs and other affiliated expenses.
  • The BlackTeaBrownSuga Network, Aaleah Oliver ($20,000) for an after-school program aimed at reducing gun violence among youth, providing media skills training that students can use to transition into a career and offering a safe space for community members of all ages to learn and grow.
  • YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, YMCA Lighthouse Project, James Brown ($20,000) for the development of the Future Roots Sample Library, a sample pack repository featuring and in collaboration with Black Pittsburgh musicians.
  • Artist Image Resource, Robert Beckman ($20,000) for the creation of new print-related artwork with Mary Martin and Gavin Benjamin.

Operating support grants totaling $100,000 over two years for each organization:

  • 1Hood Media Academy, which works to build liberated communities through art, education and social justice.
  • Afrika Yetu/Afro-American Music Institute, which is dedicated to promoting the arts through a curriculum that embraces music throughout the African diaspora.
  • Hill Dance Academy Theatre for a partnership between Pittsburgh Youth Chorus and Hill Dance Academy Theatre for “CROSSINGS,” a multidisciplinary work by two Black artists.
  • The Legacy Arts Project Inc., which brings together an intergenerational community of artists for programming that celebrates, honors and explores cultures of the African diaspora.
  • Kente Arts Alliance, which presents and promotes high-quality art of the African diaspora.
  • New Horizon Theater Inc., which brings to the greater Pittsburgh area consistent, high-quality cultural events reflecting African American points of view, and provides a venue for ethnic writers and performers to further their professional development.  
  • PearlArts Movement + Sound, a dance-focused arts organization that provides music and media arts, as well as a space for a sound incubator to support and nurture emerging musicians and sound engineers. 
  • Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, which supports artists by giving them space for artistic exploration and expression while also fostering cultural understanding.
Marquita Sams in Chetuan Jones, Lifelink’s 2019: The Faces of Transplantation Calendar.

Core programming support grants totaling $200,000:

  • Afrika Yetu ($100,000) to promote and foster the rich, diverse cultural perspective of people of African heritage through efforts that include high-quality education, vibrant performances, visual art exhibitions and immigration assistance.
  • REED Dance ($100,000) to support the relationship it has cultivated with Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, Point Park University and the Civic Light Opera that gives CAPA students an opportunity to participate in activities at Point Park University and CLO rehearsal spaces, helping ensure the advancement and success of students, young adult dancers and teachers.

Special Opportunities grant totaling $37,000:

  • Paradise Gray ($10,000) for The Peace and Unity Community Stage at the Deutschtown Music Festival. The stage provides a range of Black-led art, music and wellness programming with a focus on local outreach and creative youth workforce development infused throughout all components.
  • Chantal Braziel ($10,000) to attend the Berlin Opera Academy.
  • Pittsburgh Youth Chorus ($7,000) to compensate three Black teaching artists who are integral to the production process of the youth performance of “CROSSINGS,” a multidisciplinary work by two Black artists.
  • Tina Williams Brewer ($10,000) to develop a series of work for a one-person show scheduled for March 2023 at DeBuck Gallery, New York City. The exhibition will reimagine the mysterious children of Benin Africa and the children of her neighborhood of Homewood, and aims to show a path forward in the midst of chaos.

Discretionary grants totaling $40,000:

  • Pittsburgh Positive Young People Associations, Anita Drummond ($40,000) for the third annual East Liberty Merchants’ Black Arts and Wellness Harambee Festival and Second Line Parade.

The website has detailed information about each recipient.

Brian HyslopEditor

Brian brings a passion for Pittsburgh, doughnuts and ice cream to his job as editor. His more than 30 years of journalism experience have taught him the importance of community engagement and a sense of...