August Wilson African American Cultural Center
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC), founded in 2009, is one of the largest non-profit cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of Black culture and the African diaspora. The multidisciplinary arts center, located in Pittsburgh’s cultural district, generates artistic, educational, and community initiatives that champion future innovators in arts and culture and advances the legacy of its namesake, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson.
The Center offers year-round visual arts, music, dance, theater, and film programs such as the annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival; Black Bottom Film Festival; TRUTHSayers speaker series; and free, family-friendly AWCommunity Days. The non-profit organization is also dedicated to offering forums that foster the dynamic exchange of ideas for both community members and artists and, as such, nearly half its programming is free to the community. In its two art galleries the Center provides an array of free, rotating, curated visual arts exhibitions that feature works by locally and nationally established and emerging artists of color whose works reflect the universal issues of identity that Wilson tackled and which still resonate today.
The Center is housed in a landmark building designed by architect Allison Williams of Perkins+Will, who was inspired by the curvilinear form of the sails of dhows—the traditional ships of East Africa. The 64,500 square-foot facility includes a 486-seat theater in addition to its galleries, and in recent years has attracted over 119,000 visitors locally and nationally.
The Center is expanding its commitment to August Wilson’s legacy with August Wilson: A Writer’s Landscape, the first-ever permanent exhibition dedicated to the playwright’s life and work. Scheduled to open in 2021, the state-of-the-art exhibition will offer visitors the opportunity to engage with Wilson’s work through the lens of the community he knew best, illuminating his impact and enduring relevance. August Wilson: A Writer’s Landscape is developed in partnership with Constanza Romero Wilson, Wilson’s wife, the August Wilson Estate; Wilson collaborator and Tony Award-winning scenic designer David Gallo; leading design firm Eisterhold Associates with support from Display Dynamics; and noted Wilson scholars.