Funding will support August Wilson documentary to air on PBS
PITTSBURGH – WQED Multimedia has been awarded major grants from the PNC Foundation to support production and educational outreach and from The Heinz Endowments to support production of a national documentary on the life and work of Pittsburgh native and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson.
August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand will be a 90-minute high-definition television documentary and the first in-depth exploration of the life, work and cultural impact of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning African American playwright and Pittsburgh native (1945 – 2005). The program will be a co-production of WQED and the PBS series American Masters and will air in late 2014.
PNC Foundation and The Heinz Endowments join the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in supporting this major national documentary.
“WQED has successfully reflected the American experience through its documentaries,” said Eva Blum, president and chair of the PNC Foundation. “We welcome the opportunity to work with them again as they explore the life of August Wilson and his dramatic depiction of African American heritage.”
Janet Sarbaugh, the Endowments’ senior program director for Arts & Culture, noted that the vital setting of Pittsburgh for all of Wilson’s plays also should be reflected in the production of his life story. “August Wilson once wrote ‘I left Pittsburgh but Pittsburgh never left me,’ We all share great pride that Pittsburgh was home to this treasured American artist, ” Sarbaugh said, “and it is fitting that his hometown provides support for his story to be told.”
“This documentary will be the definitive story of the most prolific playwright of the last half of the 20th century,” said Deborah L. Acklin, president and chief executive officer of WQED.
“We are deeply honored that two Pittsburgh foundations, PNC Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, will be a major part of this project. PNC has partnered with WQED in the past to promote projects that educate and enlighten children and families, and this documentary will expand that educational initiative to the entire country. The Heinz Endowments have provided major support to WQED for many years will support production of the documentary. ”
August Wilson was a Pittsburgh native who grew up in the Hill District. From the 1980s into the first decade of the 21st century, he was the most produced playwright both on Broadway and in regional theaters, creating his unprecedented ten-play Century Cycle, all but one of which take place in Pittsburgh. The series chronicles the economic, historical, social, and spiritual life of African Americans through each decade of the 20th century.
“This is the story not only of one man, but also of his success in putting the lives of ordinary, yet complex people on the national stage. It is a quintessential Pittsburgh story and we are delighted to have Heinz Endowments as a funder for the production and PNC Foundation as a partner to support the production and enhance the educational opportunities in the project,” said Darryl Ford Williams, vice president of content at WQED.
About WQED Multimedia
WQED Multimedia has a proud history of honors, including 134 National and Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Awards, an Academy Award, and many, many others, including two Emmy® Awards for Station Excellence. WQED was founded in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported broadcaster. The people of WQED create, produce and distribute quality programs, products and services to engage, inform, educate and entertain the public within their community and around the world. WQED Pittsburgh is one of the first broadcasters in the country to be fully high-definition (HD) in its studio and field production capabilities. It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED: The Neighborhood Channel; WQED: The Create Channel; WQED Showcase; Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; the Pittsburgh Concert Channel at WQED-HD2 (89.3-2FM) and online at www.wqed.org/fm; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive (www.wqed.org) and iQ: smartmedia, WQED’s Educational initiative (www.wqed.org/edu).
About PNC Foundation
The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (NYSE: PNC), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.
About The Heinz Endowments
The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and region that embraces diversity and inclusion. Its mission is to help southwestern Pennsylvania thrive economically, ecologically, educationally and culturally, while advancing the state of knowledge and practice in the foundation’s fields of emphasis. These include philanthropy in general and the disciplines represented by five grant-making programs: Arts & Culture; Children, Youth & Families; Community & Economic Development; Education; and Environment.
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