The City of Pittsburgh is known for its rich contributions to the canon of Black cultural creativity. Cultural experiences and creative innovations have always reflected the expressions and imaginations of people from the African diaspora. The Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program is where access and opportunity connect with Pittsburgh artists who are thriving in their creative process as a means and a way of life.
Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh is a joint grant-making program created and managed through a partnership between The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. The program is committed to helping create a vibrant cultural life in Pittsburgh and the region. Both foundations have made consistent investments in the initiative since 1988. In recent years, both foundations have codified their longstanding efforts toward equity into aspirational visions that seek to support the development of a more inclusively imagined future.
The program goals are to:
- Help build the careers and support the lives of individual artists.
- Increase the sustainability of cultural organizations that focus on Black arts.
- Build community awareness of the Black arts sector.
- Support efforts toward greater collaboration and the elimination of racial disparities within the larger arts sector.
- Prioritize the documentation and discussion of Black artists’ work and wellbeing as part of the region’s cultural health.
- Support work that directly addresses and calls for the eradication of systemic and structural racism that allows for disparities to exist.
In 2022, Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh awarded grants totaling over $7 million to support excellence in artwork rooted in the Black experience. The program is committed to helping create a vibrant cultural life in Pittsburgh and the region. It is intentionally designed to enhance the support made available to Black artists and arts organizations that have historically been underresourced. Read full news release.
In 2022, 49 grants were awarded through Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh in the following categories:
- Advancing the field support: In addition to creating and presenting artwork, special efforts are needed to improve the overall arts ecosystem for Black cultural workers in the region. Accordingly, funds are available to support projects aimed at shared challenges, barriers or opportunities. All proposals must provide evident that the project is rooted in a collective effort. Funding is available for collaborative projects, research or marketing and advocacy efforts that increase the health and visibility of the Black arts sector beyond a single artistic engagement
- Culturally relevant residency support: Artist residency support is available to any arts or culturally relevant, Black-led organization interested in hosting artists whose work focuses on the art of Black people, African Americans, Africa and the larger African diaspora. Arts administration support is available to any administrator, arts worker, curator or culturally relevant organization interested in producing an exhibition, a series of arts programs or hosting an artist residency that focuses on the art of Black people, African Americans, Africa and the larger African diaspora.
- Individual artist support: Funding for individual artists who identify as Black, African American, African, Caribbean, Afro-LatinX or of the African diaspora, and whose work, of any discipline, focuses on the art of Black people, African Americans, Africa and the larger African diaspora. Grant requests can be for support of creative and career development, self-organized artistic professional development or the creation of new works and self-productions. Presentation of a fully realized work is not required.
- Planning grants: Planning grants are available to help cover expenses related to developing a full project proposal, including data gathering and research, convening partners, consensus building and problem definition.
- Project support: This is for nonprofit organizations and collectives seeking support for the presentation and/or production of work. Preference will be given to arts organizations, but other nonprofits may apply if they can demonstrate the ability to present or produce creative work. Preference will also be given to organizations that emphasize significant community engagement in the project. Projects in the areas of Black media and journalism, as well as projects that specifically address issues of social justice and equity, are also welcome.
- Operating Support: This invitation-only funding is for a select group of nonprofit cultural organizations. Grantees must have a history of consistent annual programming and participants must have clear goals and strategies and meet annual measures of success developed in consultation with foundation staff.
- Special Opportunity: Support for unique opportunities is available to any artist or culturally relevant organization that has an unexpected artistic opportunity that arises during the year, is time sensitive and cannot wait until the next scheduled grant cycle. The opportunity must be clearly centered on the art of Black people, African Americans, Africa and the larger African diaspora, and applicants must have clear goals and strategies outlined in their request.
Should you have questions about a current Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grant, or general inquiry about the program, please email us at fundingarts [at] pghfdn.org.
About Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh: The Advancing Black Arts program is where access and opportunity meet with Pittsburgh artists who are thriving in their creative process as a means and a way of life. Video by Emmai Alaquiva for The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Symposium: Black artists, cultural organizations and creatives gathered for the inaugural Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Symposium, Sept. 19 and 20, 2019, at the MuseumLab on the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s North Side campus. The theme: "There is Black Art in the Future: Securing and Growing Black Creative Communities." The symposium, captured in this video, included insightful sessions, on-site consultations and TED-style talks. The event was free and all were welcome. Special thanks to the organizing committee for creating this event and to Emmai Alaquiva and Ya Momz House, Inc. for this video.
Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh BBQ: A collaboration by The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program held its first-ever Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh BBQ in August 2019. This community gathering celebrated our grantees past and present. Video by Emmai Alaquiva for The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Read about past awardees of Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh funding: