Announcing the newest members of the Black Arts Action Committee
The Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council is thrilled to announce the new members of its Black Arts Action Committee, a paid council of Black leaders, arts professionals, and artists.
The committee aims to serve as a resource and guide to create more equitable opportunities to advance the careers of Black artists and arts organizations in the region. This year’s new inductees, who were chosen by a hiring committee following a call for applications, include: Michael Carroll, Savionne Chambers, Kahlil Darden, Petra Floyd, and Ashanté Josey.
The Black Arts Action Committee, now in its third year, was launched in 2020 after the Arts Council pledged a renewed commitment to diversity, accessibility, equity, and inclusion following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Antwon Rose II, and other victims of systemic racism. Funding for the Black Arts Action Committee is provided by the Arts, Equity, & Education Fund.
"I am thrilled to embark on this inspiring journey with the Black Arts Action Committee, where creativity converges with advocacy, and artistic expression becomes a powerful catalyst for change,” says Darden. “I am eager to amplify youth voices who oftentimes don't get a seat at the table, break down barriers, and illuminate the path towards a more inclusive and equitable artistic landscape."
Previous committee members include the late Pittsburgh visual artist Natiq Jalil, who will serve as another driving force for the new committee’s development of various programs and initiatives.
During their two-year tenure, committee members will meet to discuss and implement programs that address the needs and concerns of the Black arts community and how the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, and other partners, can provide better resources and support.
About the members:
Michael Carroll has 17 years of experience in marketing, event management, and artist development. He’s the founder and owner of marketing and video production company, Charlotte’s Webb, where he’s designed and executed over 1,000 events including the South Side Pittsburgh Summer Jam. In collaboration with artists like Tierra Whack, he’s served as an investor, manager, and consultant on high-impact projects like the Apple Holiday Campaign and Adobe x Whack Campaign. He’s also currently partnered with Will Dzombak, manager for renowned artist Wiz Khalifa, on developing a promising new Pittsburgh-based artist.
Savionne Chambers is a Pittsburgh-based artist who aims to influence her community through education, choreography, and humanitarianism. Originally from Baltimore, she trained in the Baltimore School for the Arts T.W.I.G.S program focused on classical ballet, and studied at the Orlando Ballet School & University of the Arts before pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Point Park University. She currently serves as a teacher, choreographer, and performer in the Pittsburgh area.
Kahlil Darden’s work is inspired by his family’s devastating experience with gun violence. He’s the founder and executive director of Young Black Motivated Kings & Queens, a youth-led, community-based nonprofit whose mission aims to engage youth in becoming the leaders of tomorrow. He was also the founder of the first Black Student Union at Penn Hills Senior High School, provided mentorship for students at Propel Schools, and has served in projects including YngBlkPgh, Coalition Against Violence, and the World Affairs Council. He’s also the co-author of the book “Younger Black Pittsburgh,” which highlights the work of young Pittsburghers.
Petra Floyd is a Pittsburgh-based queer, first-generation Liberian-American multidisciplinary artist and designer who was raised by working-class immigrants in Philadelphia. They received a BA in Studio Art from Swarthmore College, and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art. Petra is a BLK ART LAB artist-in-residence at Protohaven makerspace and a 2022-2023 recipient of The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh and the Heinz Endowments’ Creative Development awards. They have been a Freshworks artist at Kelly Strayhorn Theater, a resident artist at 40th Street Artist-in-Residence Program, a Fob Holder at Second State Press, and a post-college apprentice at The Fabric Workshop and Museum.
Ashanté Josey is a Pittsburgh-based visual artist who aims to use her art to heal, reaching as many people as she can with her artwork in museums, streets, schools, books, businesses, and more. Past work includes multiple solo exhibitions, group shows, and projects with GetGo, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Carnegie Museum of Art, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, The International Airport, The University of Pittsburgh, and more. She also currently serves as the Gallery Coordinator for Flyspace Productions.