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August Wilson House, Duquesne University Establish Fellowship Program

New $100,000 program funded by the Nancy Jones Beard Foundation

A new August Wilson House Fellowship has been established with a premier sponsor.

Duquesne University has announced it will host the initial August Wilson House Fellowships, allowing scholars and artists of color in varied media to engage in literary, cultural and artistic expression that advances their own work and serves the joint interests of the University and community. The fellowships, designed to bring national and regional artists and scholars into a collaboration between the famed playwright’s Hill District and educational and artistic institutions, are the first to be located in Wilson’s hometown.

Supported by a $100,000 grant from the Nancy Jones Beard Foundation, August Wilson House Fellows at Duquesne will serve as artists/scholars-in-residence, living in a Duquesne University apartment while developing their own creative work, engaging in research, teaching and participating in educational events both in the community and on campus. The three-year program will begin in the upcoming 2018 fall semester.

“I want to thank the Beard foundation, and especially Nancy and Gene Beard—two great supporters of the arts and of Duquesne University—for their generous support of this groundbreaking program,” said Duquesne University President Ken Gormley. “This gift helps bring August Wilson’s legacy full circle by honoring his extraordinary career while encouraging the work of great artists and scholars of the future. It also allows the University to strengthen its engagement with the Hill District and its commitment to advancing the arts and culture in Western Pennsylvania.”

The new program furthers Duquesne’s signature partnership with the August Wilson House. Fellows will be invited to create work that can be showcased in Wilson’s childhood home and the Hill community. They will be given access to Duquesne’s resources for scholarly research and public programs, while making classroom presentations and programs available on campus and off. Duquesne and the August Wilson House will pilot the fellowship program with two fellows per academic year for three years, with the goal of sustaining the program thereafter.

“I have no doubt August would be very pleased,” said Paul A. Ellis, Jr., executive director and general counsel of the August Wilson House and Wilson’s nephew. “As a young artist, he didn’t receive the support he deserved. This program will allow fellows to work in the same community as August and draw inspiration from it to create immersive and enduring work.”

The August Wilson House is in the process of restoring the playwright’s childhood home to honor his legacy and serve as a community arts center, sponsoring roundtables, classes, exhibits and plays. Duquesne has partnered with the August Wilson House since 2011, with students from its Honors College supporting its programs to honor his art and historic presence.

“The heart of our partnership with the August Wilson House has always been education in the humanities. This fellowship program will expand that exponentially,” said Dr. Kathleen Glenister Roberts, director of the University Honors College and an August Wilson House board member. “We are eager to help extend the artistic legacy of August Wilson through new iterations at Duquesne, in the Hill District, for the city of Pittsburgh, and beyond.”

August Wilson House
A project of the Daisy Wilson Artist Community, Inc., the August Wilson House at 1727 Bedford Ave. is the playwright’s childhood home. Next events: the annual August Wilson Birthday Block Party (Saturday, April 28, 2018) and a production of Wilson’s “King Hedley II,” starting a six-week run that weekend.

August Wilson House Contacts
Paul A. Ellis, Jr., cell 412.512.4457
Rob Pfaffmann, 412.471.2470/cell 412.298.7546
Kathleen Glenister Roberts, cell 646.413.1826

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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