Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh

Three African American girls crouched down on the dance floor at the Hill Dance Academy Theatre, looking directly into the camera. Pre-Professional student dancers at the Hill Dance Academy Theatre. Photo by Eric A. Smith

The Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program was established to help build the careers of individual artists, increase the sustainability of cultural organizations focusing on black arts, and boost community awareness of the black arts sector.

The Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh initiative is an outgrowth of a commitment by both The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments to create a vibrant and inclusive cultural life in the Pittsburgh 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 the notion of diverse cultural organizations and institutions that appeal to the widest array of the region’s citizenry.

Pittsburgh’s cultural offerings are well-recognized as one of its strongest competitive advantages. This includes a rich history and the current presence of excellent black arts presentation and production. However, despite the fact that Pittsburgh is more than 25 percent African American, the city has lagged in the presence of stable black arts organizations and professional black artists – more specifically, organizations and individuals whose work focuses on the art of African Americans, Africa and the larger African Diaspora.

This grants program is a step in building strategies to create an equitable arts ecology. We believe that the most important investments that philanthropy can make to advance black arts in the city and region are:

  1. Help to build the careers and support the lives of individual artists.

  2. Increase the sustainability of cultural organizations that focus on Black arts.

  3. Build community awareness of the Black arts sector.

  4. Support efforts toward greater collaboration and the elimination of racial disparities within the larger arts sector.

  5. Prioritize the documentation and discussion of Black artists’ work and well-being as part of the region’s cultural health.

  6. Support work that directly addresses and calls for the eradication of systemic and structural racism that allows for disparities to exist.

NOTE: All applications and support materials must be submitted online via the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program’s SlideRoom page at

For more information, please review the updated 2018 program guidelines or contact Shaunda Miles.