Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh

2017 ABAP artist Ricardo Robinson (Image by Sonarcheology Studios) 2017 ABAP artist Ricardo Robinson (Image by Sonarcheology Studios) 2017 ABAP artist Ricardo Robinson (Image by Sonarcheology Studios)

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 important factors 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.

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 – specifically organizations and individuals whose work focuses on the art of African Americans, Africa and the larger African Diaspora - who are thriving in their creative process as a means and a way of life.

This grants program is a step in building strategies to create an equitable arts ecology. The goals of the program include:

  1. Helping to build the careers and support the lives of individual artists.
  2. Increasing the sustainability of cultural organizations that focus on Black arts.
  3. Building community awareness of the Black arts sector.
  4. Supporting efforts toward greater collaboration and the elimination of racial disparities within the larger arts sector.
  5. Prioritizing the documentation and discussion of Black artists’ work and well-being as part of the region’s cultural health.
  6. Supporting work that directly addresses and calls for the eradication of systemic and structural racism that allows for disparities to exist.

HOW TO APPLY: To begin, please review these documents:

The 2020 program guidelines
A total of $388,325 in grants has been distributed to regional artists and arts programs in the second of two funding cycles for 2019. Click here to view a list of the awardees.

Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Tool Kit

After reviewing the guidelines, eligible applicants must establish an account online via the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program’s SlideRoom page at

You will be asked to submit a letter of intent (LOI). Once you have an account, you may start and complete your submission in the same session, or save your work and finish the letter of intent at a later date.

LOI review: Foundation staff will review letters of intent and will notify applicants during April of 2020, if they have been selected to submit a full application.

Full application review: Only applicants who have submitted a letter of intent and have been invited to apply will be considered for funding. If invited to submit a full proposal, applicants will receive detailed instructions on how to apply. Applications will be reviewed and recommendations made to foundation staff by a peer panel of local and national experts and cultural influencers from a variety of artistic disciplines. Applicants who progress to the full proposal stage and are approved for a grant will be notified by July 31, 2020.

Activities to be funded by this grant request should not begin sooner than Aug.1, 2020.

For more information about submitting an application for review (two weeks prior to the deadline) or for general inquiries, contact Shaunda McDill.

Watch the video to learn more about the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh program: