The August Wilson Center for African American Culture is asking for $102,500 more in Allegheny County RAD funding than the $247,500 it received last year. And it is not alone among African-American arts organizations trying to stay afloat in difficult economic times.

Of the eight Black arts entities applying for annual grant funding, all requested increases, some as much as six times the amount they received for 2010.


ANDRE KIMO STONE GUESS is president and CEO, of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.

The AWC, which is working to pay down $8.5 million in construction overruns, requested the funding to help pay operating costs.

President and CEO Andre Kimo Stone Guess said the center hasn’t generated sufficient funds from its 480-seat theater. He said the focus will now be renting out its facilities, putting on jazz and dance festivals, and presentations of August Wilson’s plays, which may be filmed for distribution.

In addition to the AWC, other agencies applying for 2011 funding include:

•The Afro-American Music Institute, asking for $40,000 after receiving $22,500 this year;

•The Jazz Workshop, asking for $25,000 after receiving $4,500 this year;

•Kuntu Repertory Theatre, asking for $50,000 after receiving $25,000 this year:

•Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, asking for $250,000 after receiving $180,000 this year;

•The Kelly Strayhorn Theater, asking for $45,000 after receiving $15,750 this year;

•The New Horizon Theater, asking for $25,000 after receiving $13,500 this year, and

•The Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, asking for $9,900 after receiving $2,250.

Another agency, the Young Men and Women’s African Heritage Association, has applied for $50,000 in funding for its children’s steel pan, African dance and mural painting programs and adult quilting programs, though it received no funding in 2010.


NELSON HARRISON serves on the advisory board for the Afro-American Music Institute.

Nelson Harrison, who serves on the advisory board for the Afro-American Music Institute, said the RAD board should be throwing money at the institute.

“A lot of artists who achieved national and international acclaim went through AMI,” he said. “I realize everyone is going to ask for more money, but the quality of education the institute provides is second to none. It’s a blow, but they’ll survive one way or another.”

Annual grant requests for 2011 RAD funding total $8.387 million. Allocations for 2010 totaled only $5.216 million. Many cultural entities have seen their state funding dwindle during the recession, and as such have increased requests for RAD funds. The Heinz History Museum lost half of its state funding, going from $600,000 in 2009 to just over $300,000 this year.

Likewise, the Pittsburgh Symphony lost state funding and had to draw down $25 million in endowment funds this year. It has asked for an additional $300,000 in RAD funds, even though its RAD allocation was trimmed 12 percent from 2009.

The RAD board will hear its final round of requests Sept. 14 and will release a preliminary budget Oct. 1. It will then hold a public hearing in late October. The final vote is scheduled for Nov. 30.

ROBERT D. JONES is senior manager of external affairs for Dominion Peoples and chairs the RAD board.

The seven-member RAD board is chaired by its lone African-American member, Robert D. Jones, senior manager of external affairs, Dominion Peoples. The RAD’s 26-member advisory board also includes African-Americans Dina Clark of the YWCA, Kenneth Powell of the PA Charter Cyber School, Winford Craig of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Marlene Hogan of WQED Multimedia, Dave Huddleston of WPXI-TV, Gail Edwards of the Urban League, Pam Golden, media specialist at the Phila­delphia Regional Census Center, and Chaz Kellem of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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