Title Sponsor of The August Wilson Center's Black Bottom Film Festival Unveils Grant during Discussion on Strengthening Pittsburgh’s Film Economy
Citizens, a leader in community engagement, announced today a $200,000 grant to the Pittsburgh Film Office, a 501(c)3 nonprofit economic development agency. This significant contribution allows the Pittsburgh Film Office to foster the growth and expansion of the film industry in the 10 counties of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
The grant from Citizens will be directly allocated to CREATE PA, a workforce training program launched by the Pittsburgh Film Office and the Pittsburgh Public Theater. The Citizens grant will create new makeup and wardrobe training tracks within CREATE PA, equipping Pittsburgh's diverse talent with the essential skills, credentials, and experience to succeed in costuming and makeup artistry on film and theater sets in the region. This program is designed to attract, cultivate, and retain local talent, thereby bolstering the burgeoning entertainment sector across Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania.
The announcement was center stage at The August Wilson African American Cultural Center’s Black Bottom Film Festival. The festival kicked off with a panel discussion titled, “Reel Money: Building Pittsburgh’s Film Economy,” discussing the concrete, actionable steps required to elevate Pittsburgh into the league of cities boasting thriving film and television economies.
“We firmly believe in the power of collaboration and investment to transform local industries and drive the creative economy, and the Pittsburgh film sector is no exception,” said Mark Rendulic, EVP & Pittsburgh Market President at Citizens. “Through our partnership with the Pittsburgh Film Office and our sponsorship of The Black Bottom Film Festival, we are committed to creating a community where creativity thrives, and where the economic potential of Pittsburgh's film industry is fully realized.”
The panel discussion, moderated by Dawn M. Keezer, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, centered on fostering creativity and training a more diverse workforce to support future film and production projects in Pittsburgh. The panel included: Gregory Edwards, Dolly Grip & Pittsburgh Film Office Board of Trustees; Kevin M. Smith, Director of Undergraduate Studies - Broadcasting & Teaching Professor, University of Pittsburgh; and Roger Smith, Actor, Writer, Director & Educator, all of whom exchanged their unique perspectives.
“We are honored to receive this grant from Citizens, which showcases their commitment to strengthening Pittsburgh's film industry. This investment is a testament to the belief that the true heartbeat of the film business lies not only in the spotlight but also behind the scenes, where dedicated professionals work tirelessly to bring stories to life,” said Dawn Keezer, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. “This grant will empower us to nurture local talent, create new opportunities, and make Pittsburgh an even more enticing destination for filmmakers. Together with Citizens, we are writing a new chapter in Pittsburgh's cinematic story, one that champions diversity, creativity, and economic growth.”
This collaboration underscores Citizens' dedication to promoting economic growth, cultural enrichment, and innovation within the communities it serves. Through this impactful grant and its role as the title sponsor of The August Wilson Center's Black Bottom Film Festival, Citizens is taking proactive steps to steer Pittsburgh's film industry toward a prosperous future.
About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $225.3 billion in assets as of September 30, 2023. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Citizens helps its customers reach their potential by listening to them and by understanding their needs in order to offer tailored advice, ideas and solutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens provides an integrated experience that includes mobile and online banking, a full-service customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,400 ATMs and more than 1,100 branches in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Consumer Banking products and services include a full range of banking, lending, savings, wealth management and small business offerings. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers a broad complement of financial products and solutions, including lending and leasing, deposit and treasury management services, foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management solutions, as well as loan syndication, corporate finance, merger and acquisition, and debt and equity capital markets capabilities. More information is available at www.citizensbank.com or visit us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
About The Pittsburgh Film Office
The Pittsburgh Film Office (PFO) www.pghfilm.org is a non-profit economic development agency dedicated to the mission of marketing the southwestern Pennsylvania region to the film industry. The PFO works with film industry projects, coordinating government offices and businesses in support of productions throughout Allegheny County and the designated 10-county region. Since 1990, the PFO has assisted over 200 feature film and television productions and generated an economic impact of more than $2 billion into the region. For every $1 invested in the PFO, the organization generates more than $218 in new spending. The southwestern Pennsylvania region has benefited from tremendous growth in the entertainment industry and ancillary fields since the establishment of the Pennsylvania Film Tax Credit Program in 2007, with 129 productions making use of the program. Recent productions include the television series ‘Mayor of Kingstown’ Season 2 and feature film productions include Netflix’s ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ and ‘The Deliverance’, the Focus Features ‘Untitled Ethan Coen Project’, and ‘A Man Called Otto’ from Sony Pictures. Currently filming in the Pittsburgh region is the Season 2 return of ‘American Rust’ from Amazon.
About The August Wilson African American Cultural Center
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a non-profit cultural center located in Pittsburgh’s cultural district that generates artistic, educational, and community initiatives that advance the legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. One of the largest cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of Black culture and the African diaspora, the non-profit organization welcomes more than 119,000 visitors locally and nationally. Through year-round programming across multiple genres, such as the annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, AWCommunity Days, TRUTHSayers speaker series, and rotating art exhibits in its galleries, the Center provides a platform for established and emerging artists of color whose work reflects the universal issues of identity that Wilson tackled, and which still resonate today.