Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh

2017 Program Guidelines and Application Process

Together The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments are committed to helping create a vibrant cultural life in Pittsburgh and the region. The foundations have maintained a long-term commitment to arts and culture as an important factor in the region’s quality of life, in the well-being of its citizens, and in its image and economy. We believe that a vibrant cultural life includes diverse cultural offerings that appeal to the widest array of the region’s citizenry. It is now widely recognized that Pittsburgh’s cultural offerings are among its strongest competitive advantages; this includes a rich history and the current presence of excellent Black arts presentation and production. However, Pittsburgh has lagged in sustaining a strong community of Black arts organizations and professional Black artists; that is, organizations and individuals whose work focuses on the art of African Americans, Africa and the larger Diaspora —even though the city of Pittsburgh itself is more than 25 percent African American.

The region’s well-documented social and economic disparities around race, as well as its racial segregation, influence its cultural life. Historically lower government and foundation support, fewer individual donors for the arts, little or no endowment income and smaller audiences have left many organizations committed to Black arts programming under-resourced. These organizations often have far less working capital than their counterparts working in western European-based art forms. Less working capital has significant ramifications for the quality and quantity of Black arts programming presented in the region: artistic risk-taking is curtailed, outreach programming to schools is reduced, individual artists are less likely to find sustainable employment in chosen art forms, visibility within the arts landscape is constrained and organizational growth is made much more difficult. In addition, Black arts as a collective segment of the region’s life have not been adequately documented and discussed as part of the region’s cultural health.

Creating equity in all of our funding programs is critically important, and this grants program is a next step in building strategies to create equity. We believe that the most important investments that philanthropy can make to advance Black arts in the city and region are:

1) To help to build the careers of individual artists
2) To increase the sustainability of cultural organizations that focus on Black arts
3) To build community awareness of the Black arts sector
4) To support efforts toward greater collaboration and the elimination of racial disparities within the larger arts sector.

Growing institutional capacity, supporting career development and building understanding and awareness within the larger community are the best ways to ensure that there will be a continuing presence of these cultural forms and increasing interest in and demand for them. These beliefs have led us to focus grant dollars on funds for individual artists, operating support and activities that advance the field collectively. If this investment strategy is successful, we will be able to measure progress in terms of growth in organizational health, career opportunities for artists and public participation in the art of the African Diaspora.

For more information, please review the 2017 program guidelines.

Program Deadlines

March 1, 2017 —for funding decisions announced by May 31
August 1, 2017— for funding decisions announced by October 31

(updated 6.27.2017)

© 2017 The Heinz Endowments