Northsider on the Move: Corey Carrington takes on new job managing art, culture in Pittsburgh’s Hill District
Photo by Corey Carrington
*Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for brevity
By Diya Singh | Chronicle Intern
“Northsider on the move” is a column that seeks to follow and highlight the accomplishments of Northsiders. The Northside Chronicle recently spoke with Corey Carrington, a northsider who was recently hired by Hill Community Development Corporation as their Cultural and Main Street Manager.
Corey Carrington is an artist from the Northside. He’s an accomplished poet, collagist, journalist and is the creative director of his own company, Deeper Than Grits Studios. Corey cares deeply about social change, and integrates this passion into much of his work. The Chronicle talked to him about his new role, and asked about where he sees the city in the future, as he is now responsible for elevating culture and artistic endeavors in a major part of Pittsburgh.
NSC: Congratulations on your new job! Could you tell us a little bit about your job, as well as what you will do in your new role?
Corey Carrington: Of course. My new job title is cultural and main street manager, and basically what that means is that I will be in charge of managing the artistic and cultural initiatives in the Hill District, more specifically Centre Avenue…Basically I’m doing art-based community development in the central Centre Avenue corridor. That means anything arts and culture related that’s happening on CentreAvenue. I have something to do with managing it and also, anything business wise. You know, talking to businesses and helping them get resources, I’m doing that… So basically, the Hill District is a historically Black community in Pittsburgh and in, I believe in the 1950s, the Penguins, the hockey team, came into the community and what we know where the Civic Arena and the parking lots are now, that used to be housing for not only African American people, but also Eastern European people, and immigrants who were coming from other places. So when the highway came and the Civic Arena also came, thousands of African Americans were displaced to other parts of the city of Pittsburgh… And so this, what I’m doing now, is part of an initiative to bring arts and culture back to the community and basically a redevelopment and a reinvestment of resources into the community.
NSC: What made this job appeal to you?
Corey Carrington: This job appealed to me because I have always been interested in community development and politics. And I saw that this was a way that I could channel my artistic talents into something that was bigger than art. So, in more recent years, I’ve been interested in things like city planning and urban planning, city design, things like that. I was wondering, how would I be able to take what I know artistically and filter it into something that’s bigger than what I do. I was looking at jobs and a friend had tagged me to the opportunity. And I looked at the job description and I was like, well, this is everything that I’ve been doing on my own, through my own company… And also, it gives me an opportunity to learn more about community development, and small businesses. So this position allows me to be kind of like a connector of resources and opportunities for different people in the community.
NSC: This question is more about the big picture. Where do you see Pittsburgh in 10 years?
Corey Carrington: I see Pittsburgh as a city that will truly live up to its name as being the most livable city, because I believe that African Americans specifically, but people of color generally, will be more appreciated in terms of establishing small businesses, being influential voices in politics in arts and culture. That we will be able to connect the resources and the opportunities that so many people in the city benefit from to the people who really need the resources and the opportunities. So I think the city will be doing a very drastic change culturally. Because in order to move forward, we have to understand that Pittsburgh is not just a white city; that it’s a city for immigrants, BIPOC people, LGBTQIA people, Black people. If we embrace the diversity that is in Pittsburgh and we give the resources to the right people and connect people to the right opportunities, I believe that Pittsburgh can and will be truly a city that’s livable for all people.