The Pittsburgh Foundation

Sean Beauford

Sean Beauford, image by Gavin Benjamin
Sean Beauford, image by Gavin Benjamin

2023 grant amount: $50,000 over two years

"Home of Tomorrow" explores the relationship between Pittsburgh and Mansfield, OH through the lens of the rise and fall of industry from 1918 to the present. This project examines the subsequent effects on Black communities across the region. There are multiple connections between the cities, chief among them is that Pittsburgh founded Westinghouse Electric Corporation and established a factory in Mansfield in 1918. Since then, several companies have been founded in Pittsburgh and moved to Mansfield, and vice-versa.

Industry decline caused Westinghouse to constantly reduce staff, followed by its eventual closing in 1990. Along with other factory closures, this left a cavity in the city’s economy that remains unfilled. The Rust Belt’s deterioration fractured bonds between cities throughout the region, including Mansfield and Pittsburgh. Despite nationwide industrial collapse, Pittsburgh’s prior success allowed it to pivot toward newer industries like tech, sports and entertainment. However, its revitalization has not always considered those who were most impacted by the loss of work, neighborhood demolition and gentrification. Small towns like Mansfield have yet to be rebuilt, and in many ways have been severed from the bigger cities that surround it. This dissolution, resulting in fewer channels, means less stories have been traded and histories remain unrevealed. 

The project will look at commercial partnerships, but it will also explore connections across people, media and biology. Additionally, the project will consider the cities similarities and differences, and how circumstances impact living. For example, while Pittsburgh’s population is about six times Mansfield’s, both cities are about 20-23% Black. To extremely varying degrees, both once had thriving majority Black neighborhoods that were disrupted. This ripple effect has not only impacted the way artists survive, but it has also influenced the work they produce. This history is a factor in an artist's decision to leave their hometown for greener pastures. This project will also look critically at the inequity of hiring, pay, and opportunities post-factory closure, and how that impacted families generations over.