GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania (January 27, 2020) – The Westmoreland Diversity Coalition proudly announces a recent grant award of $150,000 from the Heinz Endowments new Just Arts program, an initiative that supports artists, organizations and communities who harness the power of the arts to respond to social issues affecting the Pittsburgh region and beyond. The Coalition, a member of the inaugural cohort of this initiative, will use the grant to support the Diversity Billboard Art Project.
Curated by The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, with an advisory team of community members, this public art project will display ten new works of art on billboards around Westmoreland County, inspired by the theme “Make Our Differences Our Strengths.”
"The Westmoreland Diversity Coalition is very thankful to the Heinz Endowments for funding our proposal and giving us the opportunity to send, in such a unique way, a positive message to our community. We believe a major billboard campaign with a simple, consistent and candid message such as our theme, ‘Make Our Differences Our Strengths,’ is an excellent way to remind people that diversity, difference and inclusion can be a strength and have a positive impact on our community. What better way to do it than through the arts," said Carlotta Paige, Founder of the Coalition and Board of Trustees Co-Chair/Secretary.
“The Westmoreland Museum of American Art is honored to be the artistic partner for this important endeavor,” stated Anne Kraybill, Director/CEO of the Museum. “We believe that as a museum of American art, we should reflect the diversity and complexity of lived experiences in this country. The goal of this project is to expand perspectives within our region in aim of creating stronger and more connected communities.”
A call for artists residing within the regional area will open on February 1 with a submission deadline of April 1. Artists will be required to submit images of prior work samples and provide their vision for the work of art they plan to create for the Diversity Billboard Art Project. For more information, prospective artists may visit wdcoalition.org/dbap. The billboard placements will occur in the fall of 2020.
Along with the billboard placements, the Coalition, in partnership with local universities and organizations, plans to host five to seven exhibitions featuring the billboard art at various sites throughout Westmoreland County and will offer related programming that will allow for deeper interaction and reflection on these works. Opening receptions for the exhibitions will provide the opportunity for the public to meet the artists behind the works appearing on the billboards.
Lead Artist for the project Sheila Cuellar-Shaffer commented, “I am thrilled to work on this project in the role of Lead Artist. I look forward to directly interfacing with the artists, who will be selected to create these impactful billboards, and I am very thankful for the Heinz Endowments' funding. Their support is instrumental in educating the community while bringing several creative voices to the forefront.”
The Heinz Endowments awarded Just Arts grants to six projects totaling $434,750 in this inaugural year for the program. The Coalition and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council received the top grant awards at $150,000 each. The Just Arts projects chosen for funding were selected from 83 applicants whose funding requests totaled $5.1 million dollars.
About Heinz Endowments Just Arts Program
The Just Arts initiative was created over an 18-month period with input from an advisory panel consisting of nearly two dozen community leaders with strong connections to the regional art community. In addition to providing a platform for critical discourse and fostering community/artist partnerships, Just Arts projects will include the application of rigorous aesthetic standards and attention to cultural integrity.
About The Westmoreland Diversity Coalition
The Coalition is a community based nonprofit membership organization that is poised to bring people together to promote diversity from all walks of life, generate greater understanding and acceptance, and to help create through advocacy and education an atmosphere in Westmoreland County where all people feel welcome. The Coalition is working to build a cohesive foundation and network of residents and organizations in Westmoreland County to raise public awareness and work collectively to effect broad-based social change.
About The Westmoreland Museum of American Art
Western Pennsylvania’s only museum dedicated to American art, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, is a place to share meaningful cultural experiences that open the door to new ideas, perspectives and possibilities. The Westmoreland’s extraordinary permanent collection, with its strong focus on the art and artists of southwestern Pennsylvania, is complemented by an impressive schedule of temporary exhibitions— both nationally traveling exhibitions and those organized by the Museum—as well as community-oriented programming and special events.
The Westmoreland Diversity Coalition
Founder & Board of Trustees Co-Chair/Secretary
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art
Director of Marketing & Public Relations