The Pittsburgh Foundation

Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh announces $229,000 in grants

PITTSBURGH, Pa., July 23, 2018 – A locally produced comic book series, a holistic healing guide coupled with therapeutic workshops for African American youth, and a series of documentaries that highlight the lives of homegrown jazz legends are all projects being funded this spring by the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grant-making program, which recently awarded $229,000 to regional artists and art programs.

A partnership of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh is explicitly dedicated to supporting excellence in presenting and producing artwork rooted in the black experience. Grants are awarded in spring and fall each year. A complete list of the grantees can be found below.

Since the partnership between the two organizations began in 2010, Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh has awarded 304 grants totaling $4.8 million to help build the careers of individual artists, to increase the sustainability of cultural organizations that focus on black arts, to build community awareness of the black arts sector, and to support efforts toward greater collaboration and the elimination of racial disparities within the larger arts sector.

Interest remains strong, with 65 applications to Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh for operating support funding and for individual artists and residency funding. Applications were reviewed by a panel of artists and cultural workers curating experiences across genres.  Experts, including Lisa Yancey, a nationally acclaimed organizational development consultant with Yancey Consulting; Brian Burley, author of the book “YNGBLKPGH” (Young Black Pittsburgh), which highlights the achievements of young black movers and shakers in Pittsburgh; Trevor Miles, founder and choreographer for the Trevor C. Dance Collective; and Adeniji Valerie Williams Lawrence, Ph.D., a multidisciplinary artist and cultural educator.

Grants to individual artists totaling $82,090 were made to:

  • Christine Bethea ($8,050): To support the development of a new body of work in mixed media ceramics that examines the process of clay and the legacy of black ceramists from Pittsburgh.
  • Lovie Foster ($15,000): To support the development of a book that serves as a handbook/journal for healing and workshops that promote therapeutic practices among African American youth.
  • Sandra Gould Ford ($15,000): To support the development of 20 new short stories for publication, to enhance the artist’s online presence and provide community creativity workshops.
  • Christian Hall ($15,000): To support the development of the ongoing comic book series "VASION," which is a project of the artist’s company 2nd Coming Comix.
  • Billy Jackson ($15,000): To investigate the development of the August Wilson Center through an expanded version of the documentary project “The August Wilson Center — Building On A Legacy.”  
  • Liana Maneese ($14,040): To support the research and development of the next phase of the multimedia project “Adopting Identity,” which explores the artist’s relationship to her memories as an adoptee from Brazil.

Grants for artist residencies totaling $57,373 were made to:

  • Alumni Theater Company ($18,000): To support a residency with Company graduates James Perry, Shakara Wright and Cherish Morgan to develop new performance work as part of The Next Level Series. These performances will allow for interaction between the artists, their work and local youth.
  • Bunker Projects ($19,373): To support a residency with artist and filmmaker Shikeith Cathey to develop a new body of work consisting of experimental glass sculptures, a series of conceptual photographs and video.
  • Kelly Strayhorn Theater ($20,000): To support a residency with Roger Humphries to compose a musical score and develop four documentary shorts detailing the particular artistic legacy of legendary Pittsburgh composers such as Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, Erroll Garner and George Benson.

Operating grants totaling $90,000 were made to the following cultural institutions:

  • Harambee Ujima Arts & Cultural Association ($15,000)
  • Kente Arts Alliance ($25,000)
  • Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company ($25,000)
  • Staycee Pearl Dance Project ($25,000)

Guidelines and application information are available online at

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