The Pittsburgh Foundation

Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh announces $427,660 in grants

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 9, 2019 – A feature-length documentary on the past, present and future of the Hill District; a new, full-length dramatic play about domestic violence; and a theater production featuring monologues by 10 moms-of-color telling their stories of joy and pain along their motherhood journey are among the cultural projects receiving funding through the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grant-making program.

A total of $427,660 in grants has been distributed to regional artists and arts programs in the second of two funding cycles for 2018. New in this latest round are three $10,000 grants for special projects and nearly $50,000 more in funding than was awarded in the spring to individual artists and residencies.

A partnership of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh is 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 329 grants totaling $5.2 million. The funding has helped to build the careers of individual artists, to increase the sustainability of cultural organizations that focus on Black arts, to expand 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 53 submitted applications for operating support or for funding residencies or individual artist projects. A panel of artists and cultural workers, with arts experience across genres, reviewed the applications. The panel members were multidisciplinary performer, actor and director Monteze Freeland, who was named 2017 Performer of the Year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Emmy-nominated filmmaker Greg Scott Williams Jr., a two-time recipient of Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh funding; Mensah Wali, a seasoned arts festival manager with more than 45 years of experience with the International African Arts Festival (IAAF), the longest-running Black arts festival in the U.S.; and acclaimed vocalist LoRen Briggs, who has been writing and performing her own music since age 8.

Grants to individual artists and residencies totaling $182,660 are awarded to:

  • Emmai Alaquiva ($15,000): To support “OpticVoices: Mama’s Boys,” a collaborative and interactive traveling photography exhibit illustrating the psychosocial devastation facing (mostly Black) mothers who have lost their sons to gun violence.
  • Brittney Chantele ($12,000): To support a 12-track album, titled the “Golden Opportunity.” Image available.
  • Balafon West African Dance Ensemble ($20,000): To support a residency and partnership with Hope Academy for West African Dance instruction. Image available.
  • Samantha Black ($10,000): To support the film, “The Black Beneath the Gold,” which highlights Black arts and culture in eight predominantly Black neighborhoods and regions in and around the City of Pittsburgh. Image available.
  • Michael Canton ($12,500): To support the development of a multimedia repository for Black music in the region.
  • Kelli Clark ($8,290): To support a six-minute film, titled “Calypso,” which includes a mix of animation and live action.
  • Justin Dumas ($15,000): To support the creation of a new body of painting and sculpture works and associated gallery shows.
  • Kim El ($15,000): To support the self-produced full-length dramatic play, "The Sunday God Gave Me," which will debut in October, which is Domestic Violence Month, in 2019. Image available.
  • Carly Heywood ($15,000): To support the multimedia exhibition, “Black Beasts,” which analyzes the speculation, exploitation and animalization of the Black body throughout history.
  • Kyle Holbrook ($14,870): To support the completion of a mural on the Clemente Museum in the Strip District.
  • Muffy Mendoza ($15,000): To support the Brown Mama Monologues, redefining the American motherhood narrative to be more inclusive of Black mothers.
  • Morgan Moody ($15,000): To support the production of a short documentary, that defines what it means to be both Black and Catholic in Pittsburgh. 
  • Brett Wormsley ($15,000): To support the creation of a feature-length documentary on the Hill District's past, present and future. Image available.

Special Project support totaling $30,000 is awarded to:

  • NSR for Barrels to Beethoven ($10,000): To support the Pillars of Pan. Image available.
  • Women of Visions, Inc. ($10,000): To support the multimedia exhibition, “Seats of Power.”
  • Global Posse Productions, Inc. ($10,000): To support the multidisciplinary, immersive and participatory performance “Wade in the Water.”

2019 Operating Support grants totaling $215,000 are awarded to the following cultural institutions:

  • 1Hood Media Academy ($25,000)
  • Afrika YETU ($30,000)
  • Afro-American Music Institute ($25,000)
  • Hill Dance Academy Theatre ($35,000)
  • Legacy Arts Project ($20,000)
  • New Horizon Theater ($25,000)
  • Reed Dance Ensemble ($25,000)
  • Sembene: The Film & Arts Festival ($15,000)
  • Shona Sharif African Dance and Drum Ensemble. ($15,000)

More information about the program, including guidelines and application information are available on the The Pittsburgh Foundation or The Heinz Endowments websites.