The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council has awarded $70,000 in “Lift Grants” for four projects, including an art exhibit exclusively featuring people of color and a documentary.
GPAC whittled 72 applicants down to 16 and then to the final four. The grant program, which began in October of last year, receives funding from the Hillman Foundation. GPAC started Lift Grants to “fund arts projects that represent a new expression of a creative vision.”
One of the projects comes from Jimmy Riordan and Nina Friedman, who received $17,500to put together four risograph-printed books documenting the work of four chosen artists, according to press materials. Another, from Idrissou Mora-Kpai, will use the awarded $20,000 to fund “America Street,” a documentary built from 56 days of filming at a place called Joe’s Corner Store on the titular street in Charleston, South Carolina.
Jose Muniain and Brian Broome were awarded $20,000 to fund their fictional short film “GARBAGE: Race Coexistence Vulnerability.” Their collaboration on the film started after Muniain reached out to Broome, primarily a creative nonfiction writer, asking if he knew how to write a movie.
“I said no,” Broome says. “Absolutely not.”
Broome called the script “a work in progress.” He was tight-lipped about plot details, but says it was centered around a specific situation concerning a few characters.
“In this sort of fantastic circumstance, we hope to break down what it really is about,” Broome says. “These things that get put in us, in terms of race, things that we aren’t even conscious of, that we end up acting on, sometimes with the best interests at heart.”
The other project, “The Glow Up,” is an art exhibit featuring various mediums of art and musical performances from people of color. This exhibit comes from former graffiti artists Max Gonzales and Jerome Charles, known respectively as GEMS AND CHU, who received a $12,500 grant. There will be three or four pieces each from about 50 artists, Gonzales says.
“Coming from a graffiti background, we saw the importance of highlighting the artwork of people a little bit more on the outskirts of the mainstream scene, who are a little bit more marginalized in many ways,” he explains.
The venue, the Ace Hotel in East Liberty, works particularly well for this exhibit, according to Gonzales.
“Our main idea with this was to use this super nice, super big venue, that’s really highly esteemed, and use it completely to highlight the art practices of exclusively people of color,” Gonzales says. “So, really the type of people who are actively being excluded and removed from East Liberty and high-end spaces.
“Without GPAC, without this grant, we wouldn’t be able to get these artists paid who deserve to be paid and received by the general community.”