Students (l-r) Bria Wright, Bria Goldsmith, and Amya Nance, demostrate for Hill Dance Academy Theatre supporters. Photo by E.A. Smith.

Good news for 18 local artists and arts organizations: they’ve been selected as recipients of the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh awards, a partnership between The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, totaling $308,000.

Since 2010, about $4 million has been granted to local artists through the program, which is designed to help end racial disparities within the arts community.

Now, Mukwae Wabei Siyolwe (awarded $15,000) can present her multimedia work, Wade in the Water, at Carnegie Museum of Art. Gregory S. Williams is using the money ($15,000) to support his documentary, Selfies From the Hill.

Jordan Taylor (awarded $14,085) is producing a series of short films to accompany the music of his DJ duo, Tracksploitation, whose work ranges from classic hip-hop turntable battles to collaborations with a classical string ensemble.

Grants also help fund cultural programming of organizations such as the Hill Dance Academy Theatre.

“We are an academy that trains students for dance,” explains Dr. Veronica Morgan-Lee, the group’s development director (her daughter, Ayisha, is founder, CEO and Artistic Director).

The grant for $35,000 helps the group do some new things, and gives it some breathing room to concentrate on what it does best.

The award will help 13 students and two faculty members attend the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference, “which is where you want to be if you want a career in black dance companies,” says Morgan-Lee.

Other organizations to receive awards include Balafon West African Dance Ensemble ($15,000), Harambee Ujima Arts & Culture Association ($15,000), Sembene: The Film & Arts Festival ($15,000), and New Horizon Theater Inc. ($25,000).

The panel choosing the awards includes singer and educator Anqwenique Wingfield, Legacy Arts Project director Erin Perry and artist Gavin Benjamin, who has worked in many media, from photography to painting, printmaking and interior design.

Grants are awarded in two cycles per year, both of which are highly competitive–54 applications were reviewed for this fall’s awards. Applications for the spring cycle are due Feb. 27.  Click here for more information.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.