AstoldtoKittyJulian,seniorcommunicationsofficeratThePittsburghFoundation 14 community can learn and create in new mediums. When people travel to Pittsburgh, they think of The Andy Warhol Museum as a must-see destination. Having traveled internationally, I know that people all over the world have the same level of esteem and respect for August Wilson. We can make the August Wilson Center an international cultural destination that people feel compelled to visit to experience visual arts in our galleries and performances in our theaters. Because of the gravitas August Wilson conveys, I have no doubt that we can make strong connections with other museums nationally and internationally to catalyze and create, or consider a particular social issue. Personally, there’s a level of excellence that is associated with August Wilson. If you’re presenting in a space named for August Wilson, you need to bring your best. I’m going to come with my best. There’s a pride in that, a very high bar that artists want to reach when they present their work here. I believe the entire arts community will feel a responsibility to rise to that. Janis Burley Wilson TheAugustWilsonCenter 15 RE P ORT TO THE COM M UNI TY THE P I TTSBURGH F OUNDATI ON STAKEHOLDERS IN THE CITYfelt that August Wilson’s legacy was too precious to relinquish, too important to fall into the hands of callous commercialism and too historic not to share with the world. My top priority is to build a solid, sustainable organization that is finan- cially secure. That process begins with implementing programming, fundraising and organizational plans. But it also means making sure that people who come to the Center gain some knowledge of the man and his work — that they come away inspired by him. Until recently, there was really nothing about August Wilson’s life and work in the Center. In July, North Carolina–based artist Tarish Pipkins (who is from Pittsburgh) created a mural of Wilson that 200 people helped to paint in the entry space at the Center. There is a recurring character in Wilson’s plays, Aunt Esther, who lives at 1839 Wylie Avenue. She welcomes other characters and sends them on their way. Some years ago, Pittsburgh-based artist Vanessa German created a life-sized female figure called “1839 Wylie Avenue” for the “Art for August” exhibition that was curated by Janera Solomon. One of my dreams is that we can acquire that sculpture and install it permanently at the Center along with the mural and artifacts related to his plays. Of all of August Wilson’s plays, “Gem of the Ocean” inspires me the most. It’s the powerful women in that play who take what life has handed them and make their own stories. Aunt Esther is so majestic and regal. She holds court in her kitchen with all the other characters who come into her life and her home. I tell my own daughters all the time: We have to write our own stories. Just think about the literary and theater opportunities the Center holds. We can bring theater artists and writers together with social jus- tice workers to consider the hope and pain of a people. The Center could be the space that unifies the many diverse people and organizations doing that kind of work … a space to connect Pittsburgh-based artists to the larger artistic community, expanding their work and their reach. Those bonds are so important. Going forward, I hope to create a national advisory board that includes people like Denzel Washington and other directors who have presented August Wilson’s work so that we have an ongoing connection. My hope is that the Center will have an integral role in any major project that involves Wilson’s work. We’ve also created community-based conversations with artists like Vanessa German, who interviewed [musician and visual artist] Robert Hodge under a big tent at the Art House in Homewood. We are currently presenting an exhibition by photographer and curator Dr. Deborah Willis. That exhibition is curated by James Claiborne, who leads public programming at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. We met at an executive arts leadership conference at Rutgers University and decided immediately that we had to work together. That partnership is ongoing and presents an opportunity to bring curatorial and artistic knowledge from both sides of the state together. The gallery spaces are also phenomenal and massive. There is so much we can do to bring world-class artists to Pittsburgh so our Anarchitectural gem,theAugust WilsonCenter wasdesignedby AfricanAmerican architect AllisonG.Williams to recall the sail of Swahili trading ships.