Liana Maneese
Liana Maneese, one of the artists awarded a grant from the Advancing Black Arts program. Photo by Kahmeela Adams.

Gabriel Colombo was awarded $15,000, to support the creation of his film that includes original poetry, music, and dance performed by individuals in the North Side.

Jasmine Hearn was awarded $14,080 for the development of new performance art titled Blue and Sable and Burning.

And Liana Maneese was awarded $14,400 toward the creation of her film as part of the multimedia project, Adopting Identity.

These three artists were among the artists and organizations just awarded a total of $204,480 in grants through the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grants program, a partnership between The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.

Since its start in 2010, the program has invested $3.7 million in a mission to advance “the rich history and the current presence of art rooted in the black experience.”

“There’s so much great work happening here,” says Germaine Williams, senior program officer for arts and education at The Pittsburgh Foundation. “To be able to support the level of activity that’s happening—and it’s African-American artists and it’s African artists and artists from around the world coming to Pittsburgh—is a great thing.”  

Many of the organizations receiving the grants are small, he points out, and a lot of the artists are young. “Many times this is the first grant these emerging artists have received and it allows them to go onto other things and supports them on a large stage and comes at a critical stage in the artist’s development.”

The Advancing Black Arts grantmaking program is the only one in the region explicitly dedicated to supporting the elimination of racial disparities within the larger arts sector. The program, which awards grants twice per year, supports artistic risk-taking, community outreach programming, career opportunities for artists, and strategies to promote organizational growth.

Grants to individual artists, including the three listed above, totaling $58,480 were made to:

Marcel Walker, $7,500, to support the production of a third installment of an independently produced comic book titled HERO CORP., INTERNATIONAL (HCI).

Sarah Huny Young, $7,500, to support the development of a new body of work titled, AMERICAN WOMAN, a series of mixed-media portraits.

Grants for artist residences totaling $45,000 were made to:

Homewood Artist Residency¸ $15,000, to support the creation of new multimedia works by residency artists Alisha Wormsley and Naeem Martinez White.

Legacy Arts Project¸ $15,000, to support the creation of a new work for “DanceAfrica: Pittsburgh 2016” by residency artist choreographer Dieufel Lamisere of Haiti.

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh¸ $15,000, to support the creation of a new opera with residency artists Tameka Cage Conley, Dwayne Fulton and Mark Clayton Southers.

Unrestricted and operating grants totaling $100,000 were made to:

Afrika YETU, $30,000, for FY 2017 operating support.

Harambee Ujima Arts & Cultural Association, $15,000, for FY 2017 unrestricted support of the Harambee Ujima Black Arts Festival.

Kente Arts Alliance, $25,000, for FY 2017 operating support.

MLK Community Mural Project, $15,000, for FY 2017 operating support.

Staycee Pearl Dance Project, $15,000, for FY 2017 operating support.

Funding is highly competitive, according to The Pittsburgh Foundation. Twice a year, a panel of arts experts and community representatives reviews submissions and makes funding recommendations to foundation staff. Just 13 of 58 submissions could be funded this cycle. Panelists for the 2016 spring grantmaking cycle included: Imani D. Owens, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh; Joy KMT, a multidisciplinary artist, activist, healer and cultural commentator; and Sean Beauford, an independent curator.

Applications for the fall 2016 cycle are due Aug. 1. To apply , see these guidelines and application information.

NEXT staff

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