Welcome to #CLPSpotlights, our monthly series highlighting individuals and organizations that make a difference in their community. This month, we interviewed Liz Rudnick, the Marketing Manager at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Named after entertainment stars Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, this theater is dedicated to diversity and inclusion. They focus their services on Black women, the LGBTQIA+ community, people of color, and emerging artists.
Q. What is your favorite part of what you do?
A. Working with KST, there is a sense of belonging and a feeling of invigoration that is generated between the artists and the audience. KST’s programming centers historically marginalized, Black and queer voices. When audiences are given the opportunity to celebrate these voices, when we build a home for their stories, everyone who participates leaves nourished. We are making moves toward liberation— what could be better than that?
Q. What do you wish the public knew about your organization?
A. The public needs to know just how much great programming is going on at KST this fall! From dance classes at The Alloy School, to a bi-coastal variety extravaganza from Fail-Safe, to a Pittsburgh-grown Diana Ross tribute concert from Michelle Johnson, this season at KST has something for everyone.
Q. What role does CLP have in helping your organization?
A. CLP is an essential partner in KST’s mission to provide accessible, inclusive programming. KST is proud to participate in CLP’s RAD Pass initiative, which provides free or much-reduced tickets for KST events to Allegheny County library-card holders. RAD Pass holders can register for any of KST’s Alloy School dance classes, led by industry professionals and catering to all ages, from toddler to elder.
Q. If you could change one thing about Pittsburgh, what would it be?
A. There is so much to love about Pittsburgh, but the legacy of this city is in part a legacy of displacement. From the razing of the Lower Hill in the 1950s to the demolition of Penn Plaza in 2017, capital has reliably sought growth at the expense of Black and brown communities. Even KST is the only remaining theater of the nine cultural centers that used to call East Liberty home. That’s why, as East Liberty faces accelerating changes, it’s more important than ever that KST remain a home for creative experimentation, community dialogue, and collective action.
Q. What is your favorite local business or organization?
A. We love the work the Latino Community Center is doing to empower, advocate with, and celebrate the Latinx community of Allegheny County. Their holistic approach to family support includes community meetings, bilingual education programs, and community health workers.