Outreach Programs, Collaborations and Festivals

 Sweetwater continues to employ programming strategies to diversify its audience base both ethnically and geographically and also seeks to reach all economic strata and ages.  To accomplish these goals, Sweetwater remains committed to forging partnerships with other area nonprofit groups and community organizations in its ongoing mission to introduce new audiences to quality cultural experiences.  These include public cultural events as well as various outreach programs that are tailored to a particular constituency, such as the young, the elderly and the under-represented.



After School Arts Program at Allard Elementary School
Beginning in January 2011, Sweetwater launched a collaborative art program with Allard Elementary School (part of Moon Area School District) to provide after school programs. Sweetwater is currently running two ongoing, weekly programs; one for grades K-2 and one for grades 3-5. These programs give students the opportunity to explore art history and multicultural arts through various art projects and media in an age appropriate way.

After School Arts Program at Bradford Woods School
Kicking off our first year at Bradford Woods, Sweetwater is excited to provide an off-site, after school program for students in grades 3-5.  Participants will explore art history and multicultural arts through various art projects and media, including painting, drawing, ceramics and photography.

After School Arts Program and Summer Program at Mooncrest
Since 2004, Sweetwater has assisted the Mooncrest after School Program and Summer Program in designing and implementing a series of theme-based, qualitative arts experiences for at-risk children in grades one through six.  The sessions meet once a week for an hour and a half and are guided by an experienced instructor from Sweetwater.  This is a continuing supplemental program and is aimed at at-risk youth in Coraopolis. 

After School Arts Program at St. James School
Since 2007, Sweetwater has provided an off-site, after school program at St. James School in Sewickley.  Currently, participants include children in grades one through four.  Each semester, children explore art history and multicultural arts through various art projects and media, including painting, drawing, ceramics and photography.

Family Fun Nights with the Coraopolis Youth Network
The Coraopolis Youth Network was formed in 2010 to provide support for youth in the Cornell School District community. CYN is a community collaborative project made up of representatives from the school district, local non-profit organizations, churches and individual community volunteers. CYN’s mission is to provide the youth of Coraopolis and their families with resources, education and mentoring. In both May and November of 2011, Sweetwater collaborated with CYN and several other organizations to provide an evening of free family fun for Cornell students and their families which included swimming, gym games, pizza and pop and art activities taught by one of Sweetwater’s instructors.

Girls Hope of Pittsburgh, Inc.
Starting in January 2011, Sweetwater implemented a bimonthly art program with Girls Hope of Pittsburgh, an organization providing a well-balanced, nurturing home and quality education for academically capable girls between the ages of 10-18 who are at risk due to poverty, neglect or harmful neighborhood conditions. This program is ongoing and Sweetwater currently sends art instructors to two of the Girls Hope group homes (located in Coraopolis and Baden), where the instructors engage the residents in a variety of art activities. Each home has approximately seven residents who participate in the art activities. The girls also have the opportunity to take field trips to Sweetwater to work in Sweetwater’s ceramic studio.

Sewickley Y Teen Center
In Summer 2010, the Sewickley Valley Y received a grant to build a new teen center, aimed at providing students in grades 6-9 with healthy after school activities, regardless of YMCA membership. The endeavor has taken the form of a community initiative and a collaborative project involving the YMCA, the Quaker Valley School District, area churches, the Sewickley Library, the Laughlin Center and Sweetwater Center for the Arts. Sweetwater’s role has been to provide free after school art activities as part of a community after school program. Sweetwater has been providing after school art workshops since November 2010, and will continue to provide once a month workshops during the upcoming school year.

Summerbridge Pittsburgh Arts Collaboration
Summerbridge Pittsburgh is a tuition-free academic enrichment program based at Sewickley Academy that empowers at-risk middle school students with opportunities to achieve success and inspires young adults to pursue careers in education.  Since 1994, Summerbridge has worked with youth in pockets of the community where economic opportunities are limited and risks to children are greatest.  For the past six years, Sweetwater has collaborated with Summerbridge to offer “art club” activities to approximately 120 rising seventh and eighth grade students participating in the Summerbridge program.  Sweetwater also offers a more intensive art program to a select group of approximately ten rising ninth grade students referred to as the Summerbridge “community leaders.” Sweetwater provides all art supplies and equipment for these activities, and neither Sweetwater nor Sewickley Academy charges a fee for these programs.

The Creative Summer Experience
A summer program now in its ninth successful year, The Creative Summer Experience is a joint venture between Sweetwater and The Sewickley Community Center for ages six through twelve.  This two-week, full day multicultural art camp encourages children to engage the vitality and history of other world cultures through the visual and performing arts, educational play activities and group projects.  Children spend half of the day at Sweetwater and the other half at the Sewickley Community Center.  The goal of this program is to offer an affordable day camp for all socioeconomic levels.  The thirty-two children enrolled in the 2013 camp were from diverse backgrounds and 47% of the children enrolled received full scholarships.

Villa St. Joseph Arts Programming

In the spring of 2013, Sweetwater began holding monthly art workshops at Villa St. Joseph, an assisted living center located in the Baden area.  During each workshop, residents participate in a variety of art mediums such as paper maché, watercolor, clay building and sketching led by a Sweetwater instructor. 



Mavuno XVI

Sweetwater will host painter, muralist, educator and Pittsburgh resident, Leslie Ansley for its Artist in Residence program, which will take place over a six-month period beginning in September 2013 through February 2014.   Ansley has practiced her passion for nearly 20 years observing and capturing the range of emotions known as the human experience.  She has shown in several museums and galleries across the United States, and continues to work closely with Pittsburgh schools and Non-Profit Organizations. 

MAVUNO Artist in Residence Outreach Program
Sweetwater officially opened our first Artist Residency Project/Program with acclaimed muralist and painter Leslie Ansley in the fall of 2013.  This after school program gives Hill District public school students grades 3-8 the opportunity to work with a professional artist over a 15 week period and experience art to further their artistic ability.  During this program, students will engage in visual art inspired by the historic “Heyday” of the Hill District.  They will learn about the area as it was in the 1930’s to the 1950’s and how it fostered talented and influential African American jazz musicians, performers and visual artists.  Students will apply what they learned about their history to recreate the time period in a multi-faceted project which will include role play, photography and mural painting. The final project will serve as a showcase of the students who participated in the program.  At the conclusion of the class there will be a celebration in conjunction with Black History Month and Sweet Jazz Festival at Sweetwater Center for the Arts where the mural and photographs of participants will be unveiled to the public.

Exhibition Dates: September 13- November 2, 2013

Reception: Friday, September 13, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
*The reception coincides with the Sewickley Fall Gallery Walk and includes complimentary wine, refreshments and light hors d’oeuvres.

Celebrate the rich history of Pittsburgh’s Hill District with Sweetwater’s Artist in Residence, Leslie Ansley.  Highlighting the works of iconic cultural influences like Teenie Harris, August Wilson and Dizzy Gillespie, Ansley presents a glimpse into our artistic and influential past.  Ansley’s original paintings were created to honor the revival of the Hill District and are displayed as part of partnership with the Hill House Association and the new SHOP n’ SAVE grocery store.

Meet the Artist: Gallery Talk
Thursday, October 10, 2013, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Sweetwater’s Artist in Residence, Leslie Ansley will lead an open discussion about the Hill District’s historic legacy.  Don’t miss this opportunity to meet the artist as she engages directly with the art work and this important time in history.

FREE Two-Day MAVUNO Workshop: Collaborative Mural– AC02  All Ages
Working closely with Artist in Residence, Leslie Ansley, families will view work from the current exhibition, Oasis, as a source of inspiration for their own artistic exploration. Learn to paint, draw and collage to create a one of a kind "mini mural" based on historic Hill District photographs with families and Hill House students.  Oasis is available for viewing from September 13, 2013-November 2, 2013.  Pre-registration Required.



Arts Education Collaborative
In 2010, Sweetwater began working the Arts Education Collaborative to offer Act 48 credits to teachers in the Greater Pittsburgh region. The Arts Education Collaborative, whose mission is to strengthen education by making the arts central to learning through collaboration, research, and advocacy, has assisted Sweetwater by providing the evaluation tools necessary to provide Act 48 credits for Sweetwater’s ceramics classes.

Community Service Opportunities
Sweetwater provides opportunities for community service to youth in both the Cornell Abraxas WorkBridge program for delinquent boys and girls and the Life's Work of Western PA program for developmentally delayed youth. Sweetwater also works closely with middle school and high school students from Quaker Valley, Sewickley Academy, Moon, Oakland Catholic, North Allegheny and Avonworth to assist students in completing their community service hours. Several students from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University participate in volunteer programs at Sweetwater as well.

Fern Hollow Nature Center
For the past six summers, Sweetwater has partnered with Fern Hollow Nature Center to offer a joint, full-day summer camp that utilizes the resources of both organizations.  The camp is held off-site at Fern Hollow, where students spend the mornings exploring art and the afternoons exploring nature.  

Music Together – Lisa Rae Vaughn Music Studios, LLC
Music Together is a family oriented music and movement approach to early childhood music development for infant, toddler, preschool, and kindergarten children and their parents.  The curriculum supports Head Start Performance and NAEYC Program Standards.  Since January 2010, Sweetwater has been hosting several Music Together classes on a once a week basis.  The program is highly successful, and classes are almost always full with twelve pairs of students/parents.  



In the greater Pittsburgh area 2013 has been a busy year for festivals.   Already, Sweetwater has been present in many festivals as part of our marketing outreach, the objective being to reach a larger demographic of people and to introduce them to our center. Free art demonstrations and children’s art activities were offered to the public in several different mediums.

Harvest Festival
Sweetwater has participated for several years in Sewickley’s annual Harvest Festival, organized by the Kiwanis Club of Sewickley and the Quaker Valley Rotary Club. The festival takes place in the center of town and features about 140 vendors selling crafts, art, jewelry, clothing, holiday items and food as well as providing children’s activities and entertainment.

Knit the Bridge
In August 2013, Sweetwater witnessed history being made at the Knit the Bridge community celebration.  “Knit the Bridge is a grassroots, community-led arts project that brings the many diverse communities of Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania together to create a large-scale, aesthetically stunning, fiber arts installation on the Andy Warhol/7th Street Bridge.”

Sweetwater set up a booth on the Andy Warhol Bridge and facilitated a mixed-media mural, fashioned after the famed, yarn-bombed bridge!  During this celebration, Sweetwater provided wearable, black and gold, yarn pom-pom pins for participants to take with them.

May Mart
In 1965, the Sewickley Civic Garden Council established May Mart, a vendor supported street fair with the mission of selling and/or supporting items for and from the garden.  This year, Sweetwater provided free make and take art activities for all children and adults who attended. 

RADical Days
For three years, Sweetwater has participated in RADical Days at the Pittsburgh Zoo.   RAD supports and finances regional assets in the areas of libraries, parks and recreation, cultural, sports and civic facilities and programs. Every fall, RAD hosts RADical Days around the Pittsburgh area where the public can enjoy activities at no cost. Sweetwater participated at the zoo and offered free art activities to approximately 400 children during the free admission day.

Sewickley Unleashed
In the summer of 2013, Sweetwater participated in the 4th Annual Sewickley Unleashed.  This event featured a 5K walk/run through the village, vendor booths, a pet parade and a showcase.  Sewickley Unleashed is a day-long event for people and their pets, raising money for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.  During Unleashed, Sweetwater provided free art activities based off of George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog paintings. 

Three Rivers Arts Festival
June 2013 marked the third consecutive year for Sweetwater to be invited to the Three Rivers Arts Festival in downtown Pittsburgh.  This three day event exposed the Center to 10,000-25,000 people allowing residents of the greater Pittsburgh area to the significance of arts programming. Sweetwater provided demonstrations in wheel-thrown pottery, watercolor and oriental painting as well as mural making all given by Sweetwater instructors, who are also professional artists. Sweetwater also provided several free multicultural art activities for children.

VGP Night Market
At two Night Markets this past summer, Sweetwater celebrated arts education with residents of Sewickley at VGP Night Market.  Of the 55 families who visited our booth, most all were enrolled in classes or camps or were planning to enroll in the near future.  Children enjoyed crafting summertime bugs out of Popsicle sticks, pom-poms and glitter.