University of Pittsburgh
June 14, 2006

Pitt Arts Program Receives 2006 Chancellor's Affirmative Action Award

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Launched nine years ago to connect Pitt students to the cultural life of Pittsburgh, the University's Pitt Arts program received the 2006 Chancellor's Affirmative Action Award in recognition of the program's promotion of diversity, intercultural understanding, and appreciation of the arts.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg presented the award to Pitt Arts staff members during the University Senate Council meeting Monday.

The award goes annually to an "outstanding University program area or individual that has made a significant contribution in affirmative action." It includes a $2,500 prize that will be made in the form of an augmentation to Pitt Arts' budget.

In a letter to Pitt Arts Director Annabelle Clippinger, Nordenberg cited the program's African American Arts Project (A3P), now in its second year, as well as Pitt Arts' commitment to hiring women and members of diverse racial groups and encouraging such cross-cultural programming as Brazilian percussion, Middle Eastern dance, African drumming, and Croatian music.

Funded by The Heinz Endowments, A3P encourages Black students to become involved in the arts while creating opportunities for all Pitt students to experience the multiplicity of Pittsburgh's African American arts. To date, 953 students have participated in 21 A3P programs involving a broad range of organizations, among them The August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company, and Xpressions Contemporary Dance Company. Of those 953 participating students, 426 (44.7 percent) were African American. Prior to A3P, only 8-10 percent of students participating in Pitt Arts programs were Black.

When asked if participating in Pitt Arts encouraged them to remain at Pitt, 73 percent of Black students who attended A3P programs answered "yes" or "maybe," according to a Pitt Arts survey. "This figure is significant, considering the University's desire to not only enhance the quality of life for its African American students but to retain those students at the University," wrote Pitt Arts Education Coordinator Sarah E. Williams in nominating the program for the chancellor's award.

During the 2005-06 academic year, more than 40,000 students (including repeaters) have attended artistic events through Pitt Arts, and more than 9,000 students and faculty and staff members have bought deeply discounted tickets to arts events through Pitt Arts' Cheap Seats program, Williams pointed out. The program sponsors 110 free undergraduate student outings per year, including trips to visit museums, view films, and attend symphony, opera, ballet, and theater performances. Thanks to Pitt Arts, students may use their Pitt IDs during the academic year to visit the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, Phipps Conservatory, the Mattress Factory, and the Andy Warhol Museum at no cost.

"I am deeply honored to have our program be the recipient of the Chancellor's Affirmative Action Award for 2006," said Pitt Arts Director Clippinger. "This award represents the ongoing efforts at Pitt Arts to reach out to our African American students at Pitt and make a home for them in the world of the arts in Pittsburgh. African American art in our community is rich and diverse, and students who participated in A3P arts programs have felt affirmed and connected through art that mirrors the heritage, challenges, and beauty of the African diasporic peoples.

"We are all made better through our contact and communication with each other, and we create the possibility of profound understanding and positive social change through the integration of races and ethnicities in the workplace, the classroom, and in our communities," Clippinger said.