Pittsburgh, Pa, February 21, 2023 – Sixteen arts and culture organizations have been selected for the second phase of Pittsburgh’s Cultural Treasures, with additional groups expected to be added later this year. The $10 million shared initiative of The Heinz Endowments, the Ford Foundation and the POISE Foundation focuses on increasing the organizational capacity of Black-led groups in southwestern Pennsylvania’s arts and culture sector. Phase II of the initiative, which is administered by the Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise (PACE), includes grants, coaching and learning opportunities for a range of organizations, particularly those that have not traditionally received foundation funding.
“These organizations already provide valuable cultural experiences to their communities, but they want to do more,” said Lucille Dabney, President and CEO of Pittsburgh-based PACE, which works to strengthen small and mid-sized nonprofits and their communities. "Through learning opportunities, coaching, peer exchanges, the planning process and the finished plan, this phase of Pittsburgh's Cultural Treasures will enable the groups to meet their current goals and prepare them to make a lasting impact on our regional arts and cultural landscape."
The Pittsburgh’s Cultural Treasures Initiative (PCTI) is a regional affiliate of America’s Cultural Treasures, which the Ford Foundation launched in 2020 in response to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent need to support underfunded arts organizations led by people of color. Ford and the Endowments each contributed $5 million to the effort, bringing the local initiative’s total funding to $10 million. The POISE Foundation, also based in Pittsburgh and one of America’s oldest Black community foundations, houses the PCTI funds. POISE and PACE are partnering with the Endowments in designing and managing the initiative.
At the end of 2021, the first group of 16 Black Cultural Treasures were awarded grants totaling $5.4 million. The amounts ranged from $150,000 to $1 million, and the organizations were selected based on their leadership in producing work that centers and seeks to advance the people and culture of Black communities in the region.
The $3.2 million second phase of the initiative was announced last year. Each participating organization in this phase initially will be awarded a one-time unrestricted grant of $10,000 and may receive additional funding to support critical mission-related work identified during the program. The organizations also are being divided into two cohorts, with one receiving more extensive capacity-building support than the other.
The 16 organizations announced today will participate in the more in-depth programming that will span three years. It will include developing a strategic plan in the first year with assistance from a consultant and implementing the plan in the second and third years. Throughout the three years, the organizations will receive support that includes learning opportunities, workshops and coaching, and shared experiences with peers.
The second cohort of organizations is expected to be selected by this spring. Those groups will identify one or two areas of organizational need or improvement that, with an appropriate level of support above the initial $10,000 grants, can be addressed within a limited amount of time and lead to measurable organizational change and growth in a short period.
“It was important for the Cultural Treasures Initiative to go beyond the first phase and first 16 groups to demonstrate the extent of Black creativity and Black cultural contributions to southwestern Pennsylvania,” Ms. Dabney said. “Providing this unique opportunity to only 16 organizations would have limited the transformative impact that we want the initiative to have. Phase II broadens the reach and potential of Pittsburgh’s Cultural Treasures.”
“The Heinz Endowments has known since the beginning of the initiative that to have a lasting impact on the region, our investment would have to go deeper than one-time grants to a few organizations,” said Mac Howison, the Endowments’ program officer for Creativity and Learning. “We knew more time, more engagement and more strategic resources would be needed, and we are grateful to PACE for leading this phase of the initiative to ensure that meaningful goals for the partners are achieved and shared with the field.”
The organizations in Phase II’s first cohort of Pittsburgh’s Cultural Treasures are:
- ALMA|LEWIS, an experimental, contemporary art platform for critical thinking, constructive dialogue and creative expression that is dedicated to Black culture.
- Alumni Theater Company, an organization that operates a year-round program providing talented Black youth in grades six through 12 with high-quality performing arts training and a platform to express their ideas.
- Balafon West African Dance Ensemble, a West African dance performance ensemble that also offers immersive movement and musical programs, enabling participants to experience African culture, explore rich Guinean traditions, and learn about classical arts from other areas of West Africa and beyond.
- Barrel & Flow Fest, an inclusive festival that showcases Black breweries, artists, and small businesses.
- Bounce House Studios & Productions, a Black women-led organization that elevates the work of Black and BIPOC artists and creatives by creating safe spaces and offering a multimedia format for BIPOC-focused events, workshops, interactive art exhibitions, and immersive live productions.
- Children’s Windows to Africa, a youth-focused organization that exposes young people to different arts and forms of communication – movement, music, dance, reading, song, storytelling, story writing, and hands-on science – to help them learn, value, appreciate and preserve their cultural heritage and to encourage their artistic expression.
- Community Arts Experience Worldwide, a coalition-based mentoring arts academy dedicated to empowering individuals to transform culture.
- Daisy Wilson Artist Community/August Wilson House, an arts center celebrating the literary and social legacy of August Wilson by restoring his childhood home in Pittsburgh's historic Hill District neighborhood to serve as a cultural hub that nurtures the community and arts practitioners and scholars influenced by Mr. Wilson’s work.
- Guardians of Sound, a musical arts organization that encourages music making through promoting and using acoustic sound and acoustic instruments and engaging professional, pre-professional, and youth musicians.
- Hill Community Development Corporation, an organization stewarding the creation of a Black cultural and commercial corridor in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood anchored by the historic New Granada Theater, Nafasi Artist Residency Program, and other programs and assets that foster cultural experiences in accordance with the Greater Hill District’s Master Plan.
- JADA House International, a faith-based social ministry that provides youth and adults with positive experiences and an inclusive physical space where they can build healthy relationships within their community and strengthen their social, emotional, and spiritual lives.
- Josh Gibson Foundation, a youth-focused philanthropy that provides academic and athletic programs to foster leadership and scholarship.
- Sankofa Village for the Arts, a community-based, cultural arts organization that delivers culturally responsive, African-centered programs and services to children, youth, and families including cultural programming in African arts, specifically African drum and dance and martial arts.
- Sibyls Shrine, an art collective and residency program that provides Black artists with financial assistance; career development; skill-sharing and exhibition opportunities; and support for self-care, child care and other daily needs.
- Texture Contemporary Ballet, a dance company presenting original and innovative choreography that fuses the artists’ classical ballet foundations with a wide array of other styles of dance and movement.
- When She Thrives, an organization dedicated to empowering single mothers to move their families from poverty to prosperity through advocacy, education, and personal and professional development.
For more information about the Pittsburgh’s Cultural Treasures Initiative, go to www.heinz.org.
For more information about the Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise and the POISE Foundation go to www.pacepgh.org and www.poisefoundation.org.
For further information, contact: