AWC, CEA unite to bring art to East End

Making arts more accessible to Pittsburgh’s East End communities is a goal that the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture and the Community Empowerment Association are working together to bring to fruition.

“It’s important for the August Wilson Center to return to the community it came from,” explained August Wilson Center President and CEO Andre Kimo Stone Guess. We need to be an active participant in the places where the art that we put on our walls comes from like Wilkinsburg and East Liberty. The center is trying to resonate with the community.

FUTURE IN THE ARTS—Rashad Byrdsong is surrounded by East End students who will be exposed to the arts in a unique venture by CEA and AWC. (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart)

“It’s critically important for us to be connected to these communities. We need to do our part and show what it means to be Black in America and in Pittsburgh. What I want people to get is that the August Wilson Center belongs to them. It’s a living, breathing entity and I want people to see that art has a transforming power to it,” Guess continued.

The Urban Renaissance Arts Movement Multi Media Arts Initiative will allow both organizations to achieve that goal.

The free workshops, which are geared towards kids ages 3-5; and 8-12; adults and seniors, will be held from Sept. 24-Sept.30 at the former Holy Rosary School, 7120 Kelly Street in Homewood. The workshops will focus on various artistic disciplines including dance, yoga, theater, music, visual arts and literature. Pre registration is required.

“This is an opportunity for people to tell us what they like so that we can craft a program that will bring the arts closer to home for them,” said Alecia Shipman, cultivation associate at the August Wilson Center. “Everyday will celebrate an age group. People will learn how committed the August Wilson Center and the Community Development Association are to helping with the arts.”

Both entities are hoping to use the information they receive from workshop participants to ultimately use the East End as a model to take art into other Pittsburgh areas including the Mon Valley.

“This is building a bridge between African-Americans in the community and our history,” said T. Rashad Byrdsong, Community Empowerment Association Founder and CEO. “This will also allow young people to be under the tutelage of older artists and give them the chance to look beyond their circumstances. We’re going to use this as a social commentary to address some of the problems in communities.”

The Community Empowerment Association has been helping address disparities in the African-American community since 1994 through strategic planning, collaboration, advocacy, education and mobilization.

The Urban Renaissance Arts Movement Media Arts Initiative is another step in that fight.

The week-long initiative will culminate on October 1 beginning with the annual African-American Heritage Day Parade and ending with performances at the August Wilson Center.

“We wanted to bring people here to the August Wilson center too because the whole city focuses on African American History that day. It’s a time for the community to be connected,” Guess said.

(To register for the Urban Renaissance Arts Movement Multi Media Arts Initiative contact Amargie Davis at 412-371-3689 ext. 51 or 57.)

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