These AER Grantees are receiving funding to address a number of critical issues created or excacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. We are grateful to the many applicants who took the risk to submit proposals to AER’s first rounds of funding, helping to hone and shape the future of this fund.

Capacity Building Assistance

Collective Action for Re-Imagining

JUNE 2021

Arcade Comedy Theater (Allegheny) – $25,000 – To better serve new and existing theater community members of color via DEAI consultants and the new Manager of New Programming.

Barebones Productions (Allegheny) – $25,000 – To make the necessary upgrades to HVAC system to reopen the theater safely.

SLB Radio Productions (Allegheny) – $25,000 – To make website more equitable by removing inadvertent bottlenecks for users without high-end computers, thus improving access and equity for all.

Steeltown Entertainment (Allegheny) – $21,000 – To expand reach with disciplined and creative marketing and fundraising to support creating an equitable path to a more diverse film industry.

Assemble (Allegheny) – $10,000 – To help overcome the digital divide by providing laptops to youth in our programs and their homes.

Slowdanger (Allegheny) – $2,110 – To purchase equipment to sustain prolonged digital engagement and production.

MAY 2021

Neighborhood North Museum of Play (Beaver) – $23,250 – To create playful learning in community spaces that engage children and parents or guardians in learning new reading and math skills wherever they are.

Hiawatha Project (Allegheny) – $23,126 – To purchase projection equipment that will increase Hiawatha Project’s touring marketability in a COVID-19 conscious theater industry.

Pittsburgh Area Cooperative of Theaters (Allegheny) – $20,000 – To support Pittsburgh Area Cooperative of Theatres in sharing resources and training to build more equitable community theatres.

Texture Contemporary Ballet (Allegheny) – $6,100 – Purchase a marley floor, traditional flooring used for dance, and vital for dancing en pointe.

APRIL 2021

The Union Project (Allegheny) – $25,000 – To hire ArtsPool to consult with AFC member organizations on a shared services model that benefits small to midsize arts organizations in Pittsburgh.

The Genesis Collective (Beaver) – $24,882 – To strengthen the arts sector and increase its diversity by building an artist network and providing resources to creators in Beaver County.

Kente Arts Alliance (Allegheny) – $16,765 – To begin the process of rolling out a program highlighting African American artists after a year-long shutdown due to COVID-19.

Sabira Cole Film Festival (Allegheny) – $10,000 – To engage Pittsburgh’s BIPOC filmmakers to submit to SCFF’s juried film competition and attract diverse audiences to our screenings.

Funsch Dance Experience (Butler) – $3,000 – To purchase a laptop computer, video camera, and consultants to assist with our live-streaming event scheduled for May 22, 2021.

MARCH 2021

Daisy Wilson Artist Community/August Wilson House  (Allegheny) – $25,000 – To stabilize August Wilson House and build capacity in a post Covid-19 environment to insure maximum community impact when the August Wilson House doors open in 2022.

Keystone State Music Theater Association (Butler) – $25,000 – To create an outdoor stage to hold events and classes that increase capacity.

25 Carrick Ave Project / Community Cohort (Allegheny) – $14,420 – Our program is geared to decrease the events industry’s racial and gender inequalities by providing training and entry level employment.

Met Opera National Council (MONC) Pittsburgh (Allegheny) – $8,500 – To virtually provide and produce fundraising events to attract new donors, re-engage existing donors, and to facilitate the processes involved.

Shana Simmons Dance (Allegheny) – $7,900 – To support diversity and inclusion training for company and board members, supporting speaker series with experts, and supporting board development.

South Park Theatre (Allegheny) – $7,000 – To increase capacity of the outdoor stage by supporting equipment and structural upgrades and expansions.

Gallery on Gazebo (Cambria) – $6,000 – To re-brand and introduce Gallery on Gazebo as a vibrant and relevant entity in Downtown Johnstown, with energy reaching out to include others.


Bunker Projects (Allegheny) – $25,000 – To engage with a fundraising consultant to help meet financial demands that have arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Handmade Arcade (Allegheny) – $25,000 – To hire consultant(s) to do an organizational assessment and create a strategic plan for Handmade Arcade’s year-round sustainability.

The Tull Family Theater (Allegheny) – $18,000 – To maintain and expand existing technology for reemerging activities and obtain financial expertise to receive federal funding through Shuttered Venues Act.

Geyer Performing Arts Center (Westmoreland) – $10,000 – To recreate our arts education program to be a robust, pandemic-proof program that is sustainable and increases BIPOC inclusion and participation.

Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra (Westmoreland) – $9,500 – To develop new strategies and improve our ability to sell digital tickets to our digital concert series.

The Battle of Homestead Foundation (Allegheny) – $9,100 – To complete an urgent website upgrade to help deliver online programs and associated online marketing due to pandemic-required program shifts.

Incidental Chamber Players (Allegheny) – $4,480 – To present the Elements concert series online and reach a wider audience.


PICT Classic Theatre (Allegheny) – $25,000 – To hire a dramaturg of color to support our content leading into our 25th season and fund necessary anti-racism training.

The Legacy Arts Project (Allegheny) – $22,000 – To create a strategic plan that incorporates the input of the Legacy community and provides clarity for moving the organization forward post pandemic.

Associated Artists of Pittsburgh for SPACE (Allegheny) – $16,500 – To support the Small Pittsburgh Arts Coalition for Equity (SPACE) in sharing resources and fostering collaborations to become more equitable and sustainable.

Society to Preserve Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka (Allegheny) – $16,350 – To create VR360 video of the Vanka Murals for earned revenue, and to enhance current programming and increase accessibility.

Community Theater Project Corporation (Kelly-Strayhorn Theater) (Allegheny) – $15,000 – To increase staff capacity and improve performance through new computer system not upgraded since 2011.

PearlArts Studios (Allegheny) – $13,000 – Equipment to boost online programming and tools for donor management to leverage donors gained during the pandemic.


Hatch Arts (Allegheny) – $25,000 – Upgrades to assist in converting planned theater programming to a safe, partially- or fully-digital model.

Balafon West African Dance Ensemble (Allegheny) – $14,028 – To acquire technology, training, and consulting needed to develop virtual programming and improve online learning materials, content and marketing.

Casey Droege Cultural Productions (Allegheny) – $10,974 – To bolster and streamline our online presence for our organization and contributing artists. 

Creative Citizen Studios (Allegheny) – $10,000 – To create a sustainable fundraising and development plan for the next 2 years of operations.

When She Thrives (Allegheny) – $10,000 – To support continued efforts to reach sustainability and ensure African American single mothers can share their stories.

International Free Expression Project (Allegheny) – $9,500 – To re-launch website to display online performances, forums and exhibitions, and to build audiences via social media. 

Washington Symphonic Orchestra (Washington) – $7,300 – To incorporate archival footage into new performance videos that can be distributed online in lieu of in-person performances.

Little Lake Theatre (Washington) – $7,000 – For board diversification consultants to assist in developing our community diversity initiatives.

Chamber Music Pittsburgh (Allegheny) – $5,500 – To produce high-quality, in house content for virtual concerts and promotion to provide excellent, cost-saving, capacity building opportunities.


Washington County Historical Society (Washington) – $18,000 – To acquire necessary video camera equipment, microphones, and video editing software) to expand video programming in lieu of in-person events.

Fine Art Miracles (Allegheny) – $16,500 – To accelerate transformation from a solely ‘on-site’ business model to a hybrid ‘on-demand’ model to serve clients.

Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks (Allegheny) – $15,000 – To purchase new equipment such as a dedicated laptop, new printer, and upgraded marketing platform subscriptions.

Prime Stage Theatre (Allegheny) – $12,000 – To purchase software and hire a technology consultant to ensure best practices and implementation of remote performances and educational programming.

WZUM (Pittsburgh Public Media) (Allegheny) – $12,000 – To pay for database management software and training to improve communication with members and donors.

RealTime Interventions (Allegheny) – $11,000 – To better understand and serve audiences’ changing needs through assessment and equipment while staying financially afloat. 

Artsmiths of Pittsburgh Arts & Cultural Center (Allegheny) – $8,725 – To increase marketing capacity to increase holiday sales to offset the loss of revenue from Covid19.

Indiana Arts Council (Indiana) – $7,498 – To move traditional face-to-face programming into a modern, digital environment.

Renaissance City Choir (Allegheny) – $5,900 – To develop and deploy online outreach education for our members and community, and to commission a work to highlight inclusion and justice.

Pittsburgh Savoyards (Allegheny) – $5,500 – To enable artists to teach online classes from an established performance work space.


Alumni Theatre Company (Allegheny) – $23,500 – To contract with DRE|media and PR Specialist Sahaar Lyles to professionally record and digitally distribute 11 projects.

Arcade Comedy Theater (Allegheny) – $23,000 – To support the hiring of consultants to improve Arcade’s DEAI initiatives and better serve new and existing theater community members of color.

Radiant Hall Studios (Allegheny) – $23,000 – To hire a professional fundraising consultant to help redefine fundraising strategy and support development efforts in 2021.

Open Up (Allegheny) – $20,000 – To develop ADA compliant and inclusive virtual spaces for social skills and community building activities through improvisational theater games.

Shana Simmons Dance (Allegheny)  – $10,500 – To enhance the quality of SSD films and continue serving people through art during Covid, while establishing Simmons as a dance-for-film choreographer.


Radioactive Events Center (Armstrong) – $20,000 – To purchase new equipment for producing and streaming live video.

Write Pittsburgh (Allegheny) – $20,000 – To develop a virtual program that serves young writers with a strategy of inclusive, accessible tools and methods, with trainings for our team.

Style 412 (Allegheny) – $14,500 – To create a digital showroom platform for local artists in the fashion space to share + sell their garments.

Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra (Allegheny) – $5,500 – To increase ability to market, stay technologically current, and render a safe performance space.

You Are Here (Westmoreland) – $1,000 – To purchase roll up plexiglass shields to facilitate safe distancing to reconfigure space as needed for classes, visitors and other small events.

ROUND 4 (May 2021)

Lead Orgs: Legacy Arts Project and 1Hood Media, Braddock Carnegie Library Association, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Dreams of Hope, PearlArts, BOOM Concepts
Project: Hotline Ring
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: To support Hotline Ring as a shared, virtual fundraiser presented on July 15, 2021 that brings together the aligned missions of seven arts and culture organizations led by and/or in community with Queer, Trans, and/or People of Color to create an opportunity for giving that has an enormous impact on our region.

Lead Orgs: Black Unicorn Library and Archives Project, BOOM Concepts, Bloomfield Garfield Corporation
Project: Mutual Aid Residency
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: To formalize the 7-year partnership between BULA and BOOM by identifying ways to uplift, overlap, and assimilate best practice of both entities in efforts to present a stronger unified program and production portfolio.

Lead Orgs: atiya jones, Adil Mansoor, Kelly Strayhorn Theater
Project: Time Sensitive
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: To provide two emerging, queer, BIPOC artists partial financial support over the duration of one year, allowing each artist time and space to commit to professional development.

Lead Orgs: Block Chronicles, Casa San Jose
Project: PGH Latinx Artist Residency (P-LAR)
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: To develop a 10-month opportunity for emerging Latinx artists in Allegheny County, who will receive support in career development and sustainability.

Lead Orgs: Assemble, Legacy Arts Project
Project: Ramp Up Fellowship
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: To provide equitable and sustainable employment with learning opportunities for young BIPOC and LGBTQIA creatives looking to become arts educators. This collective action will foster the next generation of teaching artists and build opportunities for community-based arts education.

Lead Orgs: The Mattress Factory, City Theater Company, Pittsburgh Public Theater
Project: artEquity
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: To provide the remaining gap funding for a regional diversity and equity cohort through artEquity and support a shared human resources position to ensure long-term project sustainability and strengthen the arts sector.

Lead Orgs: Community Empowerment Association, Artist Renaissance Collective, Community College of Allegheny County
Project: Artist Mentor/Apprenticeship Program
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: To provide mentor/apprenticeship opportunities and connect emerging youth artists with elder experienced artists, particularly in underserved communities and as well to address opportunities and solutions to reposition the art sector for a more sustainable and equitable future.

Lead Orgs: Touchstone Center for Crafts, Creator Square, Bridgeway Capital, Johnstown Area Regional Industries
Project: Alliance for Creative Rural Economies (ACRE)
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: To support a scalable model to bring creativity-driven, COVID-19 responsive, economic development to rural areas across western Pennsylvania and beyond; meeting creatives where they are in their artistic career journeys and offering multiple levels of support and resources to achieve business stability.

Lead Orgs: Pittsburgh Girls Choir, Pittsburgh Camerata
Project: Shared Executive Director
Funded Amount: $75,000
Description: To establish a formal and permanent affiliation between the organizations for the purpose of sharing administrative leadership, staff and other resources in order to enhance community connections, programming and outreach.

Lead Orgs: Neighborhood North: Museum of Play, Beaver Falls Arts Council
Project: Playful Learning Initiative
Funded Amount: $74,325
Description: To strengthen the community by connecting the arts and education ecosystems to benefit both artists and students; to activate a group of teaching artists and install educational art to make learning through the arts accessible to all, especially in communities of color heavily impacted by COVID-19.

Lead Orgs: Westmoreland Museum of American Art, BOOM Concepts
Project: Artist-in-Residence Collaboration
Funded Amount: $65,000
Description: To continue a second year of funding for this first-of-its-kind residency in Westmoreland County.

ROUND 3 (March 2021)

Lead Orgs: Kelly Strayhorn Theater and PearlArts
Project: Mutual Aid Residency
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: To increase capacities through a mutual-aid residency based on shared operations, resources, staff, and space to create holistic support for the generation of dance and ideas, advancing post-COVID Pittsburgh dance ecology to grow the viability of dancemakers and strengthen the regional arts sector.

Lead Orgs: Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras and UniSound
Project: UniSound and Black Teaching Artists in Residence (BTAR) program
Funded Amount:$95,000
Description: To support a coalition of youth music organizations in Pittsburgh called UniSound and one of its main current projects, the Black Teaching Artists in Residence Program.

Lead Orgs: Balafon West African Dance Ensemble and Legacy Arts Project
Project: Africana Arts Council
Funded Amount: $61,000
Description: To support the development of an Africana Arts Council that contributes to the strengthening of Africana artists, arts organizations, and the field of Africana arts.

Lead Org: Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council
Project: Joint Facilities Assessment
Funded Amount: up to $87,285 (contingent)
Description: To undertake a joint facilities assessment that provides partner organizations (The New Hazlett Theater, City Theatre, Barebones Productions, MCG Jazz, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, and Center for Creative Reuse) with respective evaluations of their venue/facility air quality and recommendations to increase air quality to meet and/or surpass CDC and ASHRAE standards.

ROUND 2 (February 2021)

Lead Org: Hill Dance Academy Theatre
Project: Space and Place
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description:This project develops a Black-led and owned cultural arts facility located in the Hill community to provide space and place for Black dance, Africana visual creative arts and the art of Photography and Media Production.

Lead Org: The Genesis Collective
Project: The Genesis Collective
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: The Genesis Collective (TGC) exists to create a thriving and supportive arts ecosystem in Beaver County. TGC connects regional artists to one another, to the community, and to those resources required for making art an indispensable feature of Beaver County’s identity.

Lead Org: Drinking Partners
Project: FreshFest
Funded Amount: $90,000
Description: We seek to implement a Covid-friendly environment for Black artists to thrive creatively and economically through digital media and the craft beer industry.

Lead Org: The Tull Family Theater
Project: Arthouse + STEM
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: This arts-led effort will connect BIPOC/underrepresented artists and arts organizations with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical fields, seeking to boost a hurting sector with fields differently impacted by COVID.

Lead Org: Silver Eye Center for Photography
Project: SPACE
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: The Small Pittsburgh Arts Coalition for Equity (SPACE), will work to make Pittsburgh’s small visual arts organizations more equitable, by creating the SPACE Fellowship, a leadership development program focused on supporting marginalized people who have not been historically welcomed into the field with mentorship, network building, and leadership training.

Lead Org: Shana Simmons Dance
Project: Virtual Dance Exchange
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description:The Virtual Dance Exchange Project will generate discussion about race and age diversity in dance through creating choreographic works filmed in 360 degree formats, researching the future of dance and the cross section of virtual reality, and creating more accessible programming that addresses diversity in dance specific to Pittsburgh communities.

ROUND 1 (September 2020)

Lead Org: Barrels to Beethoven
Project: SCALE
Funded Amount: $100,000
Description: The vision for this initiative is the formation of a holistic artist development program designed specifically for black musicians, SCALE; a co-working space for musicians to work, learn, connect; and the creation of a collaborative framework to help enhance a music ecosystem in Pittsburgh that recognizes musicians, particularly black musicians, as necessary assets of our cultural identity.

Lead Org: #notwhite collective
Project: in-Dialogue Series
Funded Amount: $42,580
Description: Our #notwhite collective in-Dialogue series reimagines the past and present history of the arts and arts administration sector by engaging and presenting the wealth of experience, strategies and tactics BIPOC, AALANA, indigenous and immigrant artists and arts administrators have utilized and innovated to navigate a predominantly white arts sector.