As a Pittsburgh native, I’ve learned one thing in my 22 years around this city: it’s way too small. Everywhere you go, you’re going to see someone you know. It wasn’t until I attended college at Point Park University that I began to meet the majority of people I know now. One of those people is a girl I met at a party one New Years Eve circa 2014 or 2015. It was a meeting that I didn’t register as incredibly significant, and it wasn’t until a couple years later that the girl I met so briefly shared probably over 50 mutual friends of mine. As time went on, it was nice to keep in touch with this friend, and it’s even more wonderful to see her doing great things. Pittsburgh, allow me to re-introduce you to someone most of you probably already know: Shelby Ciarallo, 1/3 of the team behind The New Studio.
I was able to sit down with Shelby and discuss this project that popped up very suddenly in my little social media universe only this month. Working alongside Chris Sexauer and Mike Iverson, two friends she’s known since she was 16 years old, the trio began working on a nonprofit event planning business sponsoring child development and arts funding. The New Studio is one of about five different endeavors the group has attempted to tackle over the years, and is only a few months in the making, but already has their first event on March 29th at Glitterbox Theater in Oakland. The proceeds from this art show with an impeccable lineup will benefit Assemble, another local nonprofit dedicated to teaching kids in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math disciplines by offering classes and after-school programs to kids from all areas.
Event planning comes naturally to Shelby now, as she is the full-time assistant to the events coordinator at Bar Marco. She noted that, though event planning takes up a massive amount of time, she has means that she acquired through her job that makes it easier for her. The people that she has met through her work, as well as those that she has met simply by being a socialite in the small city of which she has also been a lifetime resident, have helped make The New Studio run swimmingly so far. “I’ve been in these scenes for so long, and after meeting these people and thinking that this is just a thing I do on my Friday night, all of a sudden there’s just an immense amount of support. Every person that I’ve asked has said yes, every favor that I’ve asked for has just been a yes. I really like the community value that I’m actually getting out of this, it re-instills a lot of hope for the city,” Shelby explained.
She and I discussed during our interview how much the city has changed in the last couple of years, how it has always been one large community that looks out for each other, and how vital a role every individual plays in the support of others. When I asked why they decided to focus on the youth and child development she painted a nostalgic picture of what she and her friends had growing up, and what they want to give back: “We realize that we all benefit directly off of the art scene in Pittsburgh, in more ways than we can count. All of these things were made possible by the people when we were kids keeping it alive. We have a great scene; we have a great group of artists in Pittsburgh,” Shelby exclaimed fondly, yet insistently adding, “If you can’t sustain tomorrow’s art, there’s going to be nothing left in Pittsburgh to enrich life. It’s going to change from the Pittsburgh that is so individual to us all, to just another place.”
Realizing that she’s no art teacher and doesnt have the direct ability to inspire kids, she explained that The New Studio is meant keep the avenues open and the money rolling for those that are, in fact, qualified. Looming budget cuts to the Arts and Sciences in K-12 are posing serious threats to the future of our youth, and The New Studio is determined to be one small beacon of hope in the city. “We all benefit off of this. What do we do on a Friday night without food, beverage, entertainment, music and art? That’s all that we have in Pittsburgh, that’s all we care about, especially our generation,” Shelby detailed.
While the business has a goal of helping to build the children that are America’s future, The New Studio is meant to help present-day artists as well, giving just about any type of artist a chance and a way to show their work. “We are asking people what they want, and then trying to plan events around artists,” Shelby said, explaining that their purpose is create, “more community events where people who are untapped have a platform.” The first event, cheekily called The No Class Gala, will be a 21+ art show featuring both visual and performance artists. Events are set to happen every month, and will be of all types in order to truly showcase any artist. One event on the agenda and currently in the works is a fashion show/movie screening, mixing two types of media to give the viewer an exceptional experience. Every event is donation-based, and with that, Shelby joked that she just really hopes people attend. “I want people to show up. I want at least 50 people to show up, then that’s a little chunk of change, and I’ll be cool.”
Open and rolling submissions give access for any artist to participate in The New Studio events. A simple email will get you added to a contact list where Shelby, Mike and Chris then focus on grouping people together based on their art to then reach out to for future events. Fine artists, photographers, performance artists, you name it, are all welcome to submit. You can find the link to their March 29th event on the Moxie Calendar, and you find their social media @newstudiopgh on Instagram as well as Facebook through this link. We hope to see you at the Glitterbox Theater on the 29th! Come support great artists and the artists of the future!