Foundations Announce $650,000 Initiative
to Strengthen Support for Local Black Arts
PITTSBURGH, Pa., November 11, 2010 – A new venture designed to strengthen funding resources to support local Black arts – the work of organizations and individuals whose work focuses primarily on the art of African Americans – has been launched jointly by The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Each foundation has awarded an initial $325,000 to the initiative, Advancing Black Art in Pittsburgh, and officially unveiled the new fund at an event for local arts organizations hosted at Homewood Library yesterday (Wednesday, November 10).
The fund is held at The Pittsburgh Foundation, and any organizations engaged in programs relating to local Black arts may apply there for grant support. Applications will be considered by a review panel comprising artists, curators, community representatives and staff from both foundations. Grants will be awarded twice annually, beginning in the spring 2011.
The foundations’ goal is to build upon their 22-year legacy of support for the Multi-Cultural Arts Initiative (MCAI) by continuing to work to eliminate disparities and provide diverse cultural resources for the broad regional community.
The Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation announced earlier this year that they were moving away from funding MCAI as an intermediary manager and instead offer direct support to arts organizations. Objectives include building the careers of individual artists, helping cultural organizations that focus on Black art become sustainable, building community awareness of the Black arts sector and supporting connections with the larger arts community.
“This initiative represents a fresh, innovative and exciting approach and underscores our commitment to support and safeguard the critical role of Black arts in our community,” said Grant Oliphant, President and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation. “Black arts organizations are vital contributors to Pittsburgh’s vibrant cultural diversity and our new fund, providing direct grantmaking support, is designed to help them to continue to grow and flourish.”
"Black artists have been and continue to be enormously important contributors to Pittsburgh’s cultural vitality,” said Endowments President Robert Vagt. “Our two foundations are pleased to continue a long-term commitment with the goal of ensuring that these artists thrive in Pittsburgh and contribute to build our region's reputation as a place that celebrates diversity."
Both foundation presidents believe that the success of the initiative will be measured by growth in the organizational stability of groups supported by the fund, in career opportunities for artists and in public participation. They expect the venture will evolve to engage the support of other local funding organizations and individual donors, further increasing grantmaking resources available for Black arts groups.
“Confronting racial disparities is absolutely necessary if our region is to serve as a welcoming, tolerant, livable place for everyone,” said Germaine Williams, Program Officer with The Pittsburgh Foundation and Co-Chair of the fund’s review panel. “The arts sector is a barometer for the region’s diversity. Artists and arts organizations working in African-based art forms have fewer funding pools to draw from for their work, and our new venture seeks to address this disparity for the benefit of the sector as a whole.”