$388,000 in grants awarded to advance Black arts in Pittsburgh

The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh, a joint program of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, has awarded $388,000 to individual artists and art programs for the initiative’s fall 2019 grantmaking cycle.

Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh is dedicated to supporting excellence in presenting and producing artwork rooted in the Black experience. Since this partnership began in 2010, Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh has awarded 356 grants totaling $5.6 million. The funding has helped build the careers of individual artists, increase the sustainability of cultural organizations that focus on Black arts, expand community awareness of the Black arts sector, and support efforts toward greater collaboration and the elimination of racial disparities within the larger arts sector.

Below are some of the individuals that were awarded grants. To see a full list, go to www.newpittsburghcourier.com.

•Wali Jamal: To produce an audio book and video series based on “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered,” a book originally published in 1852 by Martin Delaney, Pittsburgh’s first known African American doctor.

•Asia Bey: To complete, publish and distribute her original graphic novel, “EXA,” which explores the artist’s lived experience of growing into a Black woman and internal struggles involving maternity, domesticity, change and spirituality.

•James White: To support the creation of short documentaries on five Pittsburgh-based Black artists while highlighting their careers and supporting connections among American African artists.

•Yvonne McBride: To support her research and writing for a novel celebrating the history and musical legacy of the Hill District. The book will explore the impact that the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, and the 1968 riot following the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had on the Hill District.

•Jasiri X: To support the development of “EyeKhanX: An Original Hip-Hop Soundtrack” for the 1925 silent film classic “Body and Soul.” The soundtrack will connect past to present, while paying homage to director Oscar Micheaux and actor Paul Robeson, who were both artists and activists.

•Gregory Scott Williams Jr.: To support the development of a feature documentary called “Midlife Fantasy,” an intimate examination of the life of a Black man and artist living in Pittsburgh, trying to propel his filmmaking career forward, while looking for love online.

•Duane Binion: To celebrate queer people of color from underground ballroom communities past, present and future through an interactive installation at True T Studios in Bloomfield. The installation will recreate a ballroom through projection, light, music and dance, and include speakers, performance and video interviews with ballroom icons from Pittsburgh, New York City and beyond.

•Hannah Eko: To support the writing of three literary collections: “Madhappy,” a coming-of-age literary fiction novel that follows a young woman journeying from her New Mexico military prep school to New York City; “Thank You, Wyclef,” a self-help book about personal transformation and healing from an alternative, afro-futuristic viewpoint;  and “Untitled: A Black Daughterhood,” which employs a mix of cultural examination, archival research and personal storytelling.

•Graciela Sarabia: To support “GoodTalkGoodFun: with Asia!” an absurdist talk and variety show for television broadcast that is hosted by a Black woman and prioritizes people of color as guests and collaborators. The show will feature interviews with real and fictional Pittsburgh figures and professionals, as well as sketches, non-sequitur antics and the disruptive imagination of the host.

•Dejah Monea: To support the creation and promotion of her new 12-track album, “Butterflies.” Monea is a Black woman creator, performer, photographer and graphic designer who views music as a form of self-care for herself and listeners.

•Monique Conley: To support planning activities relating to a nonfiction book about the struggles and barriers her family faces raising her 15-year-old son, Jordan, an African American boy with a rare chromosomal disorder and multiple disabilities.

by Courier Newsroom

ASIA BEY (Feature photo)


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