Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its affiliates and programs have always acted with the health and safety of our students, staff, and patrons as our primary priority, and in accordance with all government orders during this crisis. Our past anticipated re-open dates were based on the latest government orders. Based on the indefinite nature of Governor Tom Wolf’s latest order, we do not want to set an arbitrary re-open date. With the new guidance from the federal government and under the best-case scenario we are hoping to resume full operations Monday, May 4, 2020. However, this can certainly change.
For over 50 years, Manchester Bidwell Corporation’s success has come from adapting to the needs of the community and the market, and we are currently operating under that mindset. Please stay tuned to all our affiliates’ communications as they announce new, creative ways to provide the programming the community desperately needs.
Our foundational principles are steering us now more than ever. We must fill our new confined environments with beauty, light, and hope to shape positive behavior. We are relying on our creativity more than ever to fuel enterprise. Finally, in a time filled with despair, we must always remember people are assets not liabilities.
We appreciate your patience and help during this time.
Due to an abundance of caution and in concert with new state-wide guidance around COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC) and its affiliates and programs will be closed effective immediately. We will reopen March 23. Performances held at MBC will be postponed through March 31.
While there has been no report of COVID-19 infection in Allegheny County at the moment, we are prudently going to deep clean and sanitize all common areas and offices to help slow the spread of the virus. While closed, no one is allowed in any of our facilities without the approval of MBC President & CEO Kevin Jenkins.
During our closure, staff will still be compensated.
For our students and patrons, you will receive specific communication from our affiliates and programs, but we want to provide you with some basic information. Bidwell Training Center students, all programs will be extended by the amount of time missed due to the closure. For MCG Youth & Arts students, our upcoming spring enrollment and trimester will be postponed, and a new date will be announced. For our MCG Jazz patrons, customers with tickets to performances in March will be contacted with information on exchanges, donations, and rescheduled dates.
We will continue to stay in contact with appropriate officials and entities regarding any new guidance in slowing the spread of the virus. We ask that all staff, students, and stakeholders, stay tuned to our websites, social media channels, and emails for any changes to the current closure.
We sincerely thank you for your patience, cooperation, and understanding during this time.
In his first visit to Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC), Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera experienced first-hand how our organization combines many seemingly disparate elements – adult career training, youth arts education, jazz presentation and orchid and floral sales – into a dynamic whole with a proven record of positively changing lives.
Rivera took a tour of MBC and met with President and CEO Kevin Jenkins and several executive directors including: Vice President of External and Government Relations for MBC Joanna Papada, Executive Director of Bidwell Training Center Dr. Kimberly Rassau, Executive Director of MCG Youth & Arts Justin Mazzei, Director of Greenhouse Operations Mark Wallace and Government Relations Consultant Mary Ann Eisenreich.
MBC thoroughly enjoyed Rivera’s company. We are thankful of his support of our mission and educational model.
Left to right: Government Relations Consultant Mary Ann Eisenreich, MBC President and CEO Kevin Jenkins, Vice President of External and Government Relations for MBC Joanna Papada, Executive Director of Bidwell Training Center Dr. Kimberly Rassau, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera and Executive Director of MCG Youth & Arts Justin Mazzei.
Left to Right: Director of Greenhouse Operations Mark Wallace and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera
It is officially the season of giving and there is no better way to end the year than by giving back to your community! Get ready to give! Starting at 12 a.m. on December 3rd, visit GiveBigPittsburgh’s website and make a donation to Bidwell Training Center, MCG Jazz and/or MCG Youth & Arts. Your donation serves as an investment in Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC) and the people whose lives we transform every day. Whether its $5 or $50, no gift is too small to make a BIG impact on your community.
GiveBigPittsburgh raises money for local nonprofits through a single online donation platform, providing a simple way to connect donors to the charitable causes they care about most. This 24-hour online fundraising effort, hosted by Pittsburgh Magazine and local sponsors, offers nonprofits the chance to raise funds to support their critical missions. Learn more.
Derrick Wallace, a Carrick High School graduate, admits he didn’t have much aspiration for his future before enrolling in Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Youth & Arts’ (MCG Youth & Arts) after-school arts programming.
“Before the Guild, I wasn’t in the best place mentally. I had no confidence. I had no plans for my future, my self-esteem was at an all-time low, but the Guild led me in the exact direction I needed to be in.” Derrick remembers, “Being a high school senior with no plans, it’s amazing to think how far I’ve come because MCG played a big part in my life.”
Derrick took many digital art classes during his time at MCG Youth & Arts. He recalls, “through those classes, I saw the teaching artists being open-minded and willing to help others learn. The MCG staff has become like a family to me, they are people I can look up to when I need motivation.”
Derrick immersed himself in the variety of opportunities that MCG Youth & Arts has to offer. He signed up for the Psychology 101 course that is part of MCG Youth & Arts’ partnership program with Westminster College. The courses taught by Westminster professors, offers college credit to MCG Youth & Arts junior and senior high school students. These courses help students strengthen their preparation for their college careers. He explained that taking that class truly motivated him to stay focused.
“We learned about the act of control and how that inevitably affects a person’s decisions,” Derrick said.
“It taught me a lot about myself.” In addition to the psychology course, Derrick also joined staff and fellow students on the annual Yellowstone National Park trip, helped artist Kyle Holbrook paint the Pittsburgh Pirates Roberto Clemente mural in Lawrenceville, and traveled to visit Edinboro University.
Derrick is currently a freshman studying Art Education at Edinboro University.
When asked if attending MCG Youth & Arts gave him the confidence to pursue a college education, Derrick stated “Absolutely. MCG is the reason I even thought about pursuing my passions and seeking out my dreams. I honestly believe I’d still be at home in Pittsburgh, if Sam and Talon [MCG Youth & Arts staff] didn’t drive me up to Edinboro on the field trip. They are the reason that I’m even at college and studying Art Education right now.”
Ultimately, Derrick hopes to find a worthwhile job in the arts, so that he can continue to grow and help others achieve their passions.
Derrick recognizes the importance of having students participate in art programs like MCG Youth & Arts.
“Getting involved is a way to expand your horizons, a way to put yourself out there, and meet new people,” said Derrick. “Through the Guild, they help artists widen their range of talents and improve themselves for the future.”
In October, MCG Youth & Arts welcomed Justin Mazzei as the new Executive Director.
While new to the position, Mazzei’s history with the organization started 15 years ago
as a volunteer after graduating from Carlow University where he was studying arts education.
“Upon graduating Carlow University, MCG Youth & Arts was at the tip top of the list of places I wanted to be a part of,” said Mazzei. “I started as a ceramic technician and in the next eleven years I grew through the organization in various roles, from teaching artist, arts integrated specialist, and studio coordinator to program director.”
During his time here, Mazzei found magic in the building and in the students.
“The amount of high quality opportunities we provide is astounding,” said Mazzei. “It is a place where your dreams can become realities. It is a place where you can see real tangible growth with the kids in our programs and its real.”
Mazzei noted that the value of the program always revealed itself when he would see a student start their time in the program shy, nervous, and weary and leave the program a strong, confident, and empowered young adult with a matured sense of who they are and what their assets are.
Between his time as program director and his new role as executive director, Mazzei stepped away from MCG Youth & Arts and worked at Andrew Street High School, a part of Propel Schools here in the region.
Although he might have been away, his heart was still at MCG Youth & Arts. It was common to still see Mazzei at exhibit receptions and program events supporting students. He even took some of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild story with him to the high school hoping to be the Frank Ross to a future Bill Strickland.
“I smile thinking of it,” noted Mazzei. “I implemented even the smallest details like playing jazz music on my record player during classes and saw the wonder and excitement and frankly confusion on the kids’ faces. Needless to say everything I did to positively impact the youth in my reach was directly pulled from the story of Frank and Bill and the experiences I had at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.”
However, Mazzei couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to fill the executive director position at MCG Youth & Arts when it was available.
In his new role as executive director, Mazzei wants to ensure that MCG Youth & Arts continues to provide world-class opportunities for youth in the region. One of his priorities is to collect and utilize meaningful data on new initiatives to expand the program’s family of partners, participants, and alumni.
When asked about potential changes, Mazzei looks to the past for inspiration. “When I think of changes I think of the process of wheel throwing that inspired a young Bill Strickland,” said Mazzei. “I think of how as a potter you are transforming the clay into something with value, something with purpose, something beautiful. I envision the same process for the program. Change is constant, but making well informed and purposeful change to ensure all students have access to programming that offers them a bright and promising future is important.”
Best-selling illustrator and children’s book author Carson Ellis shared her work and knowledge with MCG Youth & Arts students and her art is on display in our gallery. “Carson Ellis: Selected Works” presents a collection of original drawings, prints, and illustrations from the artist.
The featured works—selected by Ellis—showcase the artist’s signature style through a range of traditional mediums. Concert posters, album covers, book illustrations, and process sketches are on display.
Ellis’ work fits with MCG Youth & Arts’ 2019-20 theme “Celebrate. Collaborate.” Ellis works with her husband, The Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy, as well as with other authors and musicians. Her experience teaches students about the realities of being a professional illustrator while offering them inspiration to follow creative avenues they may already have access to.
“I found Carson through Instagram, but also kept noticing her books in the homes of friends, even those without children,” said Cecilia Ebitz, MCG Youth & Arts Visiting Artist and Exhibitions Coordinator. “I hope that the students will see themselves as a part of a creative community at MCG and figure out what collaborations can be made here.”
Ellis worked directly with students in the design studio as part of a threeday workshop. They went through the process of creating a picture book and talked about them as an art form and the process of storyboarding and character design.
Aside from her work as a professional artist, Ellis is fond of giving back and sharing her knowledge.
“I taught a 12-week drawing workshop for teen artists at the Portland Art Museum for years,” said Ellis. “These days I volunteer at a women’s prison teaching art to incarcerated moms and their kids, but I have a special place in my heart for working with teenagers because my own teen years were difficult and art was the thing that got me through them.”
“Carson Ellis: Selected Works” is on view until Dec. 23 at the Connie Kerr Gallery at 1815 Metropolitan St. Pittsburgh, PA 15233.
Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG) Youth and Arts, a program of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, is announcing an exciting new partnership with Westminster College. High school students that attend MCG Youth and Arts have long been given access to university-level art training and equipment to enhance their secondary education. Now, alongside Westminster, MCG will be offering college courses to junior and senior high school students taught by Westminster professors. Students taking these courses will be met with the same level of engagement and support that MCG Youth and Arts has provided for 50 years.
Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, sees this new partnership with Westminster as a natural fit for MCG Youth and Art’s programming.
“This is part of another path we see for MCG to carry out its mission of helping people break down barriers to opportunity and growth,” said Jenkins. “We’re committed to seeing students develop the tools and confidence they need for the rest of their lives, and enhancing educational resources for them is another vital piece of that goal.”
Beginning on January 2, 2019, students can take Economic Reasoning on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Introductory Writing on Mondays and Wednesdays. All classes are from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and will be held at 1815 Metropolitan Street. Pittsburgh Promise funding is available to all Pittsburgh Public School students who have attended PPS since ninth grade. As with MCG Youth and Arts’ art programming, transportation for students can be provided or arranged.
Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson, President of Westminster College, expressed her enthusiasm about the partnership with MCG as well.
“We are pleased to be partnering with MCG to provide Westminster’s Early College courses taught by Westminster faculty members on site on their Pittsburgh campus,” said Richardson. “This learning opportunity coordinates so well with the strong enrichment options that have long been offered at MCG to help enrolled students strengthen their preparation for their college careers.”
Enrolling in these classes can be a gateway to becoming a full-time Westminster student. Successful participation makes admission to the college very likely. Students and parents can contact Samantha Rapp from MCG Youth and Arts at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up for classes.
About MCG Youth and Arts
MCG Youth & Arts’ mission is to educate and inspire urban youth through the arts. In 1968, Pittsburgh was a city racially divided and economically distressed. Bill Strickland established Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild to help combat the economic and social devastation experienced by the residents of his predominantly African-American North Side neighborhood. Today, MCG Youth & Arts provides free arts programming to over 3,000 high school and middle school students. For more information about MCG Youth & Arts, visit mcgyouthandarts.org.
About Westminster College
Westminster College, founded in 1852, is a four-year liberal arts college. The first integrated and unrestricted coeducational college in the country, Westminster was recently ranked #22 in The New York Times’ list of “Top Colleges Doing the Most for the American Dream.” For more information about Westminster College, visit: westminster.edu.
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On the left: a cup and bowl from a dinner set by Frank Ross. On the right: lidded vessels by Bill Strickland. Photograph by Joel Mora.
Manchester Bidwell Corporation would not exist if Bill Strickland had not wandered past Frank Ross’ ceramics classroom at Oliver High School. We celebrate that meeting and mentorship with the exhibit “Frank & Bill: 50 Years of Mentorship” in the Connie Kerr Gallery.
The exhibit highlights the extraordinary relationship between Strickland and Ross. Ross’ mentorship not only fostered Strickland’s creativity—motivating him to graduate high school and attend the University of Pittsburgh—it ultimately led to the development of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its affiliates. While showcasing ceramic works from both men, the exhibit will also highlight historical elements telling the story of the last 50 years.
Frank Ross doing a ceramics demonstration.
“I’m honored to be able to reconstruct the history of the journey,” said Strickland, who has persevered in his studio practice, despite the inherent difficulties associated with creating ceramic work after surviving a double lung transplant.
Strickland’s recent work is a continuation of his passion for functional stoneware pottery instilled in him and countless others by Ross, who taught in the PittsburghPublic schools system, and later as a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
In addition to the exhibit, Strickland will take part in a two-day workshop with MCG Youth & Arts students in the ceramic studio and have lunch with them in the MBC board room.
Outside of the exhibit, guests will find a timeline of MBC highlighting how the organization has changed lives across the world for the past half century.
Ross never lived to see the incredible ceramics studio that Strickland eventually built on Metropolitan Street. A car accident took Mr. and Mrs. Ross in 1980. In 2008, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild’s world-class, ceramic studio was officially dedicated in memory of Ross and his wife. It can only be assumed that Ross would be just as excited as Strickland is regarding the planned renovation and expansion of the ceramics facility that will allow the past 50 years of mentorship to extend into the far future.
“Frank & Bill: 50 Years of Mentorship” will run until December 31, 2018.
Bill Strickland teaching a student at a potter’s wheel in the ceramics studio.