On a pedestal: Competition of Books, Modern Crafts, Pitts Homewood Challenge

F.or the last couple of years, pandemic or not, Marshall Cohen met people and Gathering support for his idea: the creation of a Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books. An educated city with the history of scholarship that Pittsburgh has should have such an event, he argued. And after you’ve received important support – from sponsors Google, Duolingo, Bakery Square, the University of Pittsburgh library system, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, New Sun Rising and author Richard Snodgrass – the event is now set to take place in East Liberty in the fall of 2021.

“Your support takes our efforts to the next level and allows us to step up our planning, marketing, and efforts to ensure participation from both Pittsburgh-based and national writers,” said Cohen. “The support of our sponsors helps our mission to keep this festival free for everyone.” The free event features readings and signatures from local and national authors, panel discussions, independent Pittsburgh bookstores, literary organizations, and others interested in attending. Kate’s Kid Book Bash, a children’s book festival launched last year, will be part of the GPFB’s children’s section along with Reading is Fundamental Pittsburgh and Riverstone Bookstore. A variety of other literary genres such as poetry, mystery, history, general fiction, and others are also featured.

An exemplary career in art management

With the exception of a three-year hiatus, Janet McCall has headed the Society for Contemporary Crafts since 1995. When she retires in June, her leadership will span half of the company’s 50-year history. She leaves society on solid financial footing at a time when few can say the same thing. In 2013 she initiated the establishment of an arts finance cohort for contemporary handicrafts and three other arts organizations in order to hire a joint CFO. The cohort Members have since worked together to strengthen strategic financial management and long-term sustainability for each organization. In terms of art, McCall launched the international Raphael Prize, a series of exhibitions and a prize for outstanding achievements in contemporary craftsmanship. The organization received the National American Craft Council’s Award of Distinction in 2018. McCall also led Contemporary Craft’s engagement in exhibitions dealing with social issues. Since 2013, the organization has curated “Enough Violence: Artists Speak Out”, “Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art”, and “Protection: Creating a Safe House” and “Food Justice: Growing a Healthier Community Through Art”. Each of these exhibitions has been shown in museums and galleries across the country to bring the creative excellence and social conscience of Contemporary Craft to audiences in other cities. However, her standout achievement was the successful move from the organization’s location in the Strip District to a new, fully funded, permanent home in Upper Lawrenceville. The unexpected move was necessary due to the sale and refurbishment of the historic product terminal, which has housed contemporary crafts for 34 years.

Pitt wins for the Homewood Project

The University of Pittsburgh has been recognized by the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities for its programs in the Homewood neighborhood with a prestigious University Innovation and Economic Welfare Award. The diverse endeavors span numerous faculties and schools and include nurturing talent, fostering innovation, and creating an environment that fosters economic prosperity. Examples include Pitts School of Social Work, which works with community organizations and the three schools in the neighborhood to provide holistic support to students and their families. Pitts Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence offers a six month consultancy and training program with degrees from 50 companiesNeurs in Homewood and has advised 21 companies in the region since 2017; and the School of Education’s Justice Scholars Program, which enrolls 40+ students in college classes, qualitative research experiences, and service learning opportunities with an emphasis on social justice. The effort has also brought a Bioshelter to Homewood, which has a DC initiative for growing microgrids and hydroponic foods, as well as a manufacturing career training center that trains 80 people each year to become machinists with a 95 percent jobRate.

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