Casey Droege had an thought to create an arts economic system in Pittsburgh. The artist, curator, and guide began Small Mall, a storefront idea promoting reasonably priced works by artists and designers dwelling inside 100 miles of Pittsburgh. It was settled in Lawrenceville, adopted by a second, scaled-down location within the entrance of the Casey Droege Cultural Productions house in Wilkinsburg.
Then the pandemic hit. CDCP closed its Wilkinsburg house in March 2021 after the owner deliberate to boost the hire. Then in Might, Droege introduced that she bought Small Mall to Kerri and Paige Fetzer-Borelli.
The transfer marks a brand new chapter for Droege, who says that whereas closing the Wilkinsburg house was surprising, she had all the time deliberate on ultimately shifting on from Small Mall.
“I feel after the type of craziness of the yr, it simply felt prefer it was the time to attempt to begin doing that,” says Droege.
Regardless of these challenges, her dedication to the Pittsburgh arts neighborhood has not waivered.
Droege selected Kerri and Paige, saying the 2 perceive the mission of Small Mall as a undertaking of CDCP, an artist-run, woman-owned, for-profit enterprise making an attempt to develop financial alternatives for working artists.
Kerri and Paige are presently promoting native artwork and internet hosting digital occasions in Small Mall’s Lawrenceville location, and Droege says additionally they intend to “preserve all the staff on board and preserve every thing shifting ahead and, hopefully, develop it.”
“From all of our conversations, I feel they wish to sort of preserve issues going as-is for some time so that they have a greater understanding of what is occurring in Pittsburgh typically as a result of they’re new to Pittsburgh as effectively,” says Droege. “I am certain they’re gonna provide you with some actually cool methods to develop and herald new artists and applications.”
Within the quick time since Small Mall modified palms, Droege has stayed busy. CDCP just lately launched the annual PGH Photograph Honest collection, which Droege says options “unbelievable curators and collectors talking from everywhere in the world.” Droege additionally turned the primary artist to showcase work for a window show at BOOM Ideas’ Garfield house.
CDCP and BOOM are each a part of the Small Pittsburgh Arts Coalition for Fairness, or SPACE, a bunch of eight small visible arts organizations that banded collectively as a approach to stand up to the pandemic and deal with inequality within the Pittsburgh scene. The CDCP web site describes SPACE members as “collectively sharing assets and concepts, advocating for one another, and fostering new collaborations.”
In April, SPACE obtained a $100,000 grant from the Arts Fairness Reimagined Fund, used to develop the coalition and the SPACE Fellowship, a soon-to-launch, paid arts management coaching program for BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and different marginalized candidates within the area.
Droege says SPACE has been a “lifesaver” for her.
“Whereas I collaborate with tons of various organizations and companies, I am actually out right here alone, and having this sort-of mind belief of all these nice friends is admittedly invaluable, and simply having a spot the place we will join with one another and help one another has been simply superb after the concern of fixed obstacles and adjustments,” says Droege.
General, Droege says she’s going to focus her efforts with CDCP to proceed offering neighborhood programming and providing artwork consulting companies.
“The mission will nonetheless say the identical,” says Droege. “So the aim is admittedly, we wish to construct our economic system, which implies we wish to pay artists, we wish to get cash to our fellow arts organizations, to all of the totally different arts staff on the town, and simply assist construct the ecosystem a bit.”
She presently works with The Salon, a womxn-only networking group with a studio house within the Lawrenceville-based Arsenal Motors constructing, to provide Artwork Circle, a group of talks, excursions, and different choices exploring the numerous aspects of the Pittsburgh artwork scene. “And that is, you understand, type of wanting behind the scenes with the humanities neighborhood and speaking with totally different organizations and totally different of us,” says Droege.
Droege says CDCP may even maintain digital talks in the summertime and fall. She hints that also they are within the early phases of planning some pop-up occasions.
As for shifting into a brand new bodily house, Droege says CDCP is in no rush to place down roots, an unsurprising improvement provided that Small Mall moved round loads earlier than discovering a everlasting dwelling. She provides that she and her small employees are content material working remotely from dwelling for the foreseeable future.
“I feel we will proceed to do with out having a bodily house the place we present and promote artwork,” says Droege. “And, and in some methods, specializing in consulting work permits us to do it in a extra streamlined method the place we will deal with massive initiatives with greater budgets to essentially, hopefully, make a much bigger influence.”
Casey Droege Cultural Productions