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Pittsburgh's Kelly Strayhorn Theater to Host 2018 National Performance Network / Visual Artists Network Conference

by Duane Binion
January 30, 2018
Kelly Strayhorn Theater
5941 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Pittsburgh's Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) and National Performance Network (NPN), are pleased to announce the 2018 National Performance Network / Visual Artists Network’s Annual Conference will take place in Pittsburgh, PA, December 2018. NPN/VAN’s Annual Conference is a dynamic international forum for artists, arts leaders, activists, organizers, funders, and creative stakeholders to develop a more artist-centered, just, and sustainable performing and visual arts universe.

“For over 10 years KST has been committed to serving our community as an inclusive safe space for all, offering a place where everyone’s voices are heard, and responding to community needs” says Executive Director of Kelly Strayhorn Theater; janera solomon. “Now is the perfect time to showcase Pittsburgh based artist. We have a unique voice, and culture, we are proud to welcome our NPN colleagues to experience our city.”

Over four days, KST and NPN/VAN will partner to gather more than 400 artists, arts funders, and leadership from arts organizations across the nation to consider current issues, share solutions, examine local, national and international policies that shape the cultural environment, and expand industry and institutional know-how.

In addition to gathering arts leaders from across the country, the Annual Conference also provides opportunities to share the work of local, national, and international artists that include ArtBursts (pop-up performances throughout the Conference), Idea Forums, In the Works, and “Live & On Stage “performance showcases.

The Annual Conference also directly addresses artist equity issues by providing subsidies to NPN/VAN, as well as Pittsburgh artists, selected to mirror the diversity of the NPN/VAN community.

The NPN network includes more than 100 arts organizations in the U.S., Latin America, and Asia. They are committed to investing in artists whose voices and visions illuminate and shape the world around us, and to taking risks in support of artistic expression. Since its inception, NPN/VAN has reached 3.5 million audience members and supported 4,700 artist projects employing more than 21,000 artists. NPN has provided $26 million in direct support to artists and presenters, and leveraged another $44 million, resulting in $70 million in support for artists and arts organizations.

KST and NPN/VAN share a mission to create an arts sector rooted in justice. The conference is designed to foster deeper collaboration among presenters, greater mobility for artists and a stronger collective voice for the arts. Its programs demonstrate the network’s commitment to spaces for expression that are free of racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, misogyny, classism, or other bias. It is a rare platform where artists and presenters come together as equal peer participants toward greater field-wide goals.

Attendance is open to everyone interested in participating. Local artists wanting to learn more about how you might be involved in sharing ideas, performing, teaching, and/or as a member of the Community Host Committee should email duane@kelly-strayhorn.org for more information.


The National Performance Network and Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN) believes artists and arts organizations are essential for creating a just and sustainable world, and we believe communities deserve broad access to art and culture that reflect their own experiences and inform about the experiences of others.

We seek to provide risk-taking performing and visual artists with the resources needed to develop and tour new work, to ensure arts leaders have the skills and opportunities to be change-makers in the arts presenting field, and to influence cultural policy for more just and artist-centered practices.


Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) uses the arts as a catalyst for community revitalization and plays a key role in the transformation of East Liberty and nearby neighborhoods. In its 16th year as an organization and 10th season of original programming, KST continues to demonstrate its commitment to Pittsburgh artists and audiences, supporting the presentation of risk-taking new work by emerging artists and arts organizations.

KST is also building community through art with the newly formed East Liberty Community Arts Fund, supporting ambitious temporary art projects. The first two projects – Deavron Dailey’s The Arms of East Liberty and Bob Ziller’s 15 Minutes – are now on display at 5906 Penn Ave. in East Liberty.

KST operates two professionally equipped venues along the Penn Avenue arts corridor. The historic Kelly Strayhorn Theater (formerly the Regent Theatre, 1914) is a 350-seat multi-arts venue and the last survivor of East Liberty’s nine original theaters. Noted Pittsburghers and KST namesakes Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn are among the 80 area artists honored in the theater’s Gallery of Stars. Just blocks away, KST’s Alloy Studios play host to intimate performance events and provide creative space for artist residencies, Alloy School dance classes, and performance rehearsals, as well as community art and music programs.

Major funding for KST Presents is provided by The Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Benter Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and Allegheny Regional Asset District.

Photo © & courtesy of Duane Binion

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