New Sun Rising: Helping to Make Pittsburgh Greater (There's Something About Millvale, Part 1)

Friday, 26 February 2016 03:18 PM Written by  Henry Lipput

“We like to say we empower the leaders who make Pittsburgh great,” said Daniel Stiker, Director of Fiscal Sponsorship + Arts Mode at New Sun Rising. 

After 10 years, the organization, based in Millvale, is beginning to impact communities all over Allegheny County.  But it began with a project further down South.

“We started to raise funds for a music foundation after Hurricane Katrina,” reported Stiker. “At that point, the two people who started it, Scott and Brian Wolovich, noticed that there was a need for this type of organization to help other projects. So it started as a fiscal-sponsorship organization so we could help other people get their projects get off the ground using our non-profit status for them to access funding opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Through a variety of projects, New Sun Rising started getting into the field of social entrepreneurs and creatives, including the Arts Mode project which is a professional development workshop for artists and arts organizations.

And how does New Sun Rising decide to select an arts group to participate in the Arts Mode project? “As long as they make an impact in the Pittsburgh region, and they have some sort of social good or arts component, those are the ones we would sponsor,” he explained. “So we’ve sponsored everything from the zombie opera to farm delivery service. Anyone who will help make Pittsburgh great. It’s a wide variety -- but the majority of them, currently, are actually creatives and artists.”

Among other things, participants in the Arts Mode project receive mentoring to help with what they are currently working on. If an artist is just starting out they will be helped with their development as well as an artist statement, business plan, or common grant application. Artists and arts organizations that are already established can get help with their organizational development. Artists and arts organizations also receive a membership with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

“One of the things that I really like about Arts Mode is the process,” said Leigh Solomon Pugliano, founder of Barrels To Beethoven.

Pugliano is a consultant, business development specialist, trainer, and also a musician. “I’ve played the steel pan  -- which is the basis of my organization Barrels To Beethoven  -- probably since I was about five,” she said.

people standing up, playing steel pan drums together, looking intently at the drums

Barrels To Beethoven came about after she put together an exhibition about her father who makes steel pans. “In order to do the exhibit, I wanted to make sure I did research, not only of the past of the steel pan but also the future,” she said. “One of the things I realized as I was doing my research is the instrument has gained so much popularity as far as the amount of people who play it, but the makers are decreasing. There have been concerns throughout the Caribbean about passing on the art form.”

She started Barrels to Beethoven as a way to expose the community to the steel pan. She also hoped people would learn how the instrument is made, inspire new makers, inspire new players and, hopefully, sustain and develop the instrument over time.

When Pugliano discovered that New Sun Rising was helping people make an impact in their community, she got in touch with the organization and applied to be part of the Arts Mode project. “With their help, I’ve been able to build an organizational structure. So thinking about things like a budget -- which I had but not on a larger scale -- so I now have a two-, three-year budget that I’m using when I’m doing grant writing. We talk a lot about grant writing and funding. We’ve learned a lot about building a board -- I hadn’t even thought about building a board and now I’m interviewing and asking people to be on an advisory board -- which is something I wouldn’t even have thought that my organization was ready for.”

“I feel like the structure and building the foundation of my organization after I already had the creative part and the community outreach was exactly what I needed at that point,” she said in summing up her experience with New Sun Rising.


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