Find out how arts communities are coming together in Pittsburgh
There’s certainly no lack of talent floating around Pittsburgh’s incredibly diverse neighborhoods. Every nook and cranny is packed full of new and excited creative projects.
Mike Schwarz is the founder and CEO of Wicked Pittsburgh, a collective of more than 45 local artists creating, displaying, and selling their work to give 20% back to local charities.
Schwarz is a freelance photojournalist from Waynesburg, PA who found his way back to Pittsburgh after graduating from college in Boston. He noticed how the Pittsburgh artist community could, at the time, be hard to break into.
The solution? He and a team of dedicated artists founded Wicked Pittsburgh “in an effort to transform Pittsburgh into the creative hub it most certainly has the potential to become."
The goal of Wicked Pittsburgh is to streamline events, pay artists for their work, support local charities, and make Pittsburgh more approachable for artists of all crafts, genders, races, and levels of experience.
Wicked Pittsburgh is designed to facilitate a seamless introduction into the Pittsburgh art world for emerging artists of all crafts by providing services to upcoming artists.
In just over a year of operation, Wicked Pittsburgh has grown to 45+ artists and musicians and raised more than $1,500 for six local charities, not to mention hosting 10+ events, partnering with organizations like Free Pittsburgh Art, Red Fish Bowl, Black Forge and Misra Records, and some of Pittsburgh’s most exciting festivals and events like Thrival Music Festival, Deutschtown Music Festival, and the EQT Three Rivers Regatta.
Schwarz says "The music scene in Pittsburgh is “underrated, grassroots, advantageous, and inspiring,” but needs a bit of direction.
"Wicked Pittsburgh Records was founded on the one-year anniversary of the Wicked Pittsburgh Art Collective. During the first year of Wicked, we found ourselves constantly outsourcing our friend’s bands for added entertainment to accompany our gallery shows/events. Like visual artists, musicians require the same promotional services + events management. Many of the groups we hired regularly explained a lack of labels/legitimate management services in Pittsburgh. We listened. “
"Wicked Pittsburgh’s identity as an organization is defined by its philanthropic business model," says Schwarz. "We aren’t here to make money. Quite the contrary. We’re here to give it all away. Then search for more, and give that away."
The group's charitable donations enable it to support other organizations it feels are also making a difference in the local community. It allows them to network with other nonprofits, give Pittsburghers another reason to buy art, and incentivize Pittsburgh artists to continue creating for a good cause.
Wicked's success as an organization is contingent upon building a strong bond with the communities around us.
Wicked Pittsburgh was awarded “Best Creative Project of 2018” by The Pittsburgh Technology Council, Three River’s Art Fest, and Dollar Bank.