Tickets & Events

FUTUREMAKERS Symposium: Creative Strategies & Community Placekeeping

KST Presents

Kelly Strayhorn Theater
5941 Penn Ave

KST’s Alloy Studios
5530 Penn Ave

Kelly Strayhorn Theater (KST) is proud to announce the 2019 FUTUREMAKERS Symposium, Creative Strategies & Community Placekeeping,Thursday, September 19, 9:30am – 7:00pm at KST’s Alloy Studios and Kelly Strayhorn Theater. This all day event includes a dynamic range of activities centered around KST’s FUTUREMAKERS program. The goal of FUTUREMAKERS is to invest in new talent and foster the ideas of visionaries within our community. 

“Everywhere we look we see visionaries – people with ideas for making the world better and the energy and commitment to try.” – janera solomon, Executive Director, Kelly Strayhorn Theater

The Symposium program includes: 

9:30am – 10:00pm,  Registration and Breakfast

10:00am – 10:30am, Imagining A New Future, Reflections on Community Centered Practice 
A presentation from KST Executive Director, janera solomon, reporting on the findings from dialogues considering history, art, and community in East Liberty. 

10:30am – 12:00pm, 2019 Fellows Presentations
FUTUREMAKERS, Ben Barson, LoRen Briggs, Kirsten Ervin, Ricardo Solis Moreno, Debra Titus, and Ally Wolf share their projects and participate in public conversations around community-driven visions for the future of East Liberty. See below for more details on the FUTUREMAKERS Fellows. 

12:00pm – 1:30pm Lunch and Informal Chats with FUTUREMAKERS

1:30pm – 3:30pm 400 Years of Inequality Workshop
400 Years of Inequality is a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals calling on everyone to prepare observances of the 400th Anniversary of the arrival in 1619 at Jamestown of the first Africans to be sold into bondageHavanna Fisher and Jacqueline Castañeda, will lead a workshop that asks participants to link arms in radical equality, to unify, account for the past, and assume the rights and responsibilities of the future for all. See below for more details on 400 Years of Inequality and speakers Havanna Fisher and Jacqueline Castañeda.

3:30pm – 4:00pm Coffee Break 

4:00pm – 5:00pm East Liberty Walks
Lead by KST Executive Director, janera solomon and local Pittsburgh artists, these walks will share aspects of East Liberty and its rich history with attendees. 

5:00pm – 7:00pm Neighborhood Happy Hour
Featuring 2019 Fellow Ricardo Solis Moreno’s The Upcycled Art Fest, a marketplace of crafts and other goods made from at least 50% recycled materials. Participating artists include Thirphozs htwe, Kit Ward, Jennie Kay Snyder, Anita Arguello, Brad Bianchi, and Christina Roselle.

The FUTUREMAKERS Symposium is presented with support from the Opportunity Fund, The Heinz Endowments, and BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Photos by Beth Barbis


Pay What Makes You Happy! Registration for this event is available at any price. Simply choose the level that makes you happy—or name your own! All seats are general admission.

400 Years of Inequality is a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals calling on everyone – families, friends, communities, institutions – to plan their own solemn observance of 1619, learn about their own stories and local places and organize for a more just and equal future.

2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to be sold into bondage in what is now the United States – in 1619 in Jamestown, VA. This was an important moment in creating a social, political, and economic system built on a foundation of inequality and dehumanization. Inequality is a threat to our health and society, and to undo it we must come together and proclaim that we are the history of a just future. We do so by observing this 400th anniversary with place-based stories of the struggle against inequality – by placing ourselves and the places we live or are from in this history and claiming our part in it.

Our method is “Call and Response.” We have put out The Call to Observe with resources to help people from all corners of the nation find their local stories and plan a 2019 observance. Meet Havanna Fisher and Jacqueline Castaneda, members of the organizing committee of 400 Years of Inequality Project, who will share how networks, organizations, and individuals can observe and acknowledge this history of inequality.

Havanna Fisher is an emerging interdisciplinary designer and artist from Harlem who works across the fields of design, performing arts and film. She has a keen interest in using her skills and gifts to combine the design and art world with education to bring about political awareness and thus probable change within the American landscape of ideological identity aiming to create many holistic design approaches to humans living life as a collective in peace. The basis for this deep enriched passion in community service via the arts stems from her experiences growing up in Harlem. She received a BFA in fashion Design from Parsons New School for Design and a BA in the Arts with a concentration in dance from Eugene Lang College. During her studies at The New School, she used her time there to grapple with the tough questions about human relations and sought to use her craft to feature untold stories and ways to build pathways to understand and heal interactions that often divide humanity. Her fashion senior thesis called Sankofa Sankofa served as a wearable memorial to those that were taken and lost during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. For her dance thesis, she explored the intersectionality of race, gender, and performance while also creating the costumes and choreography. Her work at The New School extended beyond her studies and into the realm of organizing. She co-founded Sisters Art Solan (SAS), a student organization that is geared towards women of color artists. In 2016 Havanna was the Harlem artist-in-residence at the Landormant Project which gave her the opportunity to go back to her community and share one of her many passions into creating a healing space where conversations around the effects of gentrification were discussed. The stories and memories that she collected served as inspiration in her creative processes. Havanna continues to blend different art forms like fashion, dance, and film with an emphasis on community and unity to create a world of many possible approaches to living life creating a holistic society. Havanna’s most recent current project is called “The Cotton Series.” This project emerged from her senior dance thesis while attending Eugene Lang and debuted at Movement Research at Judson Church Fall of 2017. The Cotton Series is a collection of dance works that explores Black women’s lives as they live in America and how their sisterhood support their survival.

Jacqueline Castañeda is an urban thinker with an academic background in Architecture and Urban Design. She developed her career between Mexico and Italy, where she worked on urban planning and design, public spaces, sustainable mobility strategies and participatory design at different Mexican Government Institutions, and at the international firms MIC Mobility in Chain (Italy) and Carlo Ratti Associati (Italy). As a creative urbanist, Jacqueline’s passion focuses on designing strategies and projects with an integrated approach, using both everyday tools and breakthrough technologies to develop a balanced and equitable society and preserve our environment. Jacqueline is now based in Brooklyn, NYC where she co-founded CITAD, a design collective that aims to improve the urban experience for everyone.

In response to inequity in the rapidly changing economic and social fabric of the East Liberty community, KST developed the FUTUREMAKERS accelerator to stimulate the vital leadership role that artists and creatives can play in generating inclusive organic growth. Investing in new talent and fostering the ideas of visionaries within our community, the project seeks to expand their role in the cultural and economic transformation of Pittsburgh’s East End.

Meet the 2019 FUTUREMAKERS Fellows: 

Benjamin Barson is a composer, educator, baritone saxophonist, historian, and political activist. He is the recipient of the 2018 Johnny Mandel Prize from the ASCAP Foundation, the top prize for jazz composers under 30. Barson, disturbed by the incredible oppression wrought by white supremacy and the destruction of ecosystems, employs a compositional practice that draws from the deep well of revolutionary musicians within the jazz tradition. His art emphasizes democratic and ecocentric alternatives to capitalism. He prioritizes collaborations with women of color artists, such as pipa virtuosos Min Xiao-Fen and Jin Yang, nuyorican poet-playwright Magdalena Gomez, and, Mexican-Yaqui vocalist Gizelxanath Rodriguez. With Rodriguez, Barson helped organize the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, a majority PoC ensemble that connects the legacies of resistance between Indigenous, African diasporic, and East Asian peoples. Barson and the collective play at both performing arts and activist spaces, such as Springfield Jazz Festival (2018), the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (2019 & 2018), the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage (2018), the Native Indigenous Resistance Gathering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2019), the Mesopotamian Water Forum in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq (2019). Most recently, Barson composed the music for a revolutionary jazz opera “Mirror Butterfly: the Migrant Liberation Movement Suite.”

Influenced by a wide range of vocalists from soul artists including Lauryn Hill and Sam Cooke, and compared to the sweet country singing of Taylor Swift, LoRen Briggs has a sound that is unlike any other. LoRen has been writing her own music since the age of 8 and is trained in both classical and Broadway music. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, LoRen has participated and won numerous talent shows, and has performed in front of thousands. With each performance, LoRen’s venues have become bigger and better. In 2013- 2014, she was the Lead Artist for Hawaiian label “Core808.” During that time, she’s performed in California at the Belasco and the Q’s Lounge, and at several venues in Detroit. She’s collaborated with producer and creator of the Power Rangers theme song Lionel Green on a song entitled, “Come Home.” When asked to describe his experience working with LoRen, Green said, “This is how Timberland must have felt first working with Aaliyah.” In 2016, LoRen was featured in a Maybelline New York campaign as an artist and model that “Makes it Happen.” In 2018, Loren was selected to be a panelist for the Advancing Black Arts Pittsburgh grants program.

Kirsten Ervin is a modern day folk artist focused on building community and promoting joy through drawings, paintings and fiber art.  She is interested in challenging the depersonalization of modern culture and public spaces. By focusing her art on interactions with and depictions of everyday people, Kirten seeks to rehumanize our current culture. Most recently, she completed the Pittsburgh Passenger Portrait Project, an installation of 50 portraits and interviews of passengers at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Kirsten has created sculpture and installation art for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Three Rivers Arts Festival, performed puppetry at the Carnegie Museum of Art and and exhibited her textile art and paintings in galleries throughout Pittsburgh. She co-founded Creative Citizen Studios, an organization creating professional opportunities for artists with disabilities. Through CCS, Kirsten created accessibility training for The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Warhol Museum, The Mattress Factory, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and City of Asylum. An arts educator, Kirsten specializes in creating accessible art making opportunities for artists of all ages and abilities. She is a member of the Fiber Arts Guild of Pittsburgh, The Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh and Group A.

Ricardo Solis Moreno is a Costa Rican artist based in Pittsburgh who focuses on upcycled mixed media and graphic design. Some of his recent works include animations for Healthy Ride’s “IG Artist Takeover,” augmented reality pieces for “Fun a Day PGH ‘19” that interact with the public, and his handmade crafts from reclaimed materials that he sells at markets like “World Refugee Day PGH 19.” He found at an early age that art was in his blood, but it wasn’t until 2011 that he began making art more seriously. He saw art as a means of recovering from a car accident which temporarily left him unable to fully use his right arm. He loves creating new things from reused materials. Part of his inspiration comes from nature and Ricardo hopes to help the environment and reduce his ecological footprint with his art! Ricardo likes to show aspects of Costa Rican culture in his pieces. He has been in the Burgh for 5 years and he loves to blend the best parts of this city into his art as well.

Debra Titus also known as DebSTAR is an EDU-PRENEUR. She has a passion for education and entrepreneurship. She has over 14 years of teaching and entrepreneurial experience. When she is not imparting her plethora of expertise to youngsters she unleashes her artistic repertoire as a maker. Debra always wanted to make natural products, and gained the opportunity in 2016 when she teamed up with her partner Shakeena and they launched their custom whipped hair and body butter business called D&K Whip Appeal. DebSTAR has a vision and passion for equity and accessibility in the Black Hair Care industry. Her drive to motivate and empower minority women to define their own beauty is the driving force that propels her to be innovative and collaborative with other local artists to create modes of progress and success in underprivileged communities. DebSTAR hopes to one day have her own shop that invites minority women to “Mix with a Twist” and create products to take home the same day. To bring this dream to life Debra relies on God Almighty, her adoring and supportive Husband Robert, her precious daughter and “WHY,” Ariel and her family and friends that pour life into her goals and aspirations.

Ally Wolf is a multimedia installation artist based in Pittsburgh, and a graduate from the University of Pittsburgh where she studied Fine Art and Art History. When not at her day job(s), Wolf strived to capture the  dark and private aspects of life in her built environments and sculptures, in hope of connecting to her audience to the spaces in an interactive and intimate way.