Mission & History
The Hillman Center for Performing Arts is western Pennsylvania's newest cultural venue. As a not-for-profit professional performance space, the Hillman Center presents programs of excellence that represent Pittsburgh's cultural traditions while celebrating global, artistic innovation. Special emphasis is placed on family-friendly programming. As a community space, the Hillman facilitates performances by various cultural, educational and artistic organizations that showcase a myriad of traditions and talents.
The Hillman Center for Performing Arts also serves as Shady Side Academy's primary performing arts classroom. As a teaching, learning and student performance space, the Hillman Center offers current students a chance to discover and nurture their talents. The annual Hillman Performing Arts Series benefits students and alumni of Shady Side Academy, as well as the citizens of western Pennsylvania, through residencies and performances.
Finally, the Hillman is committed to developing outreach programs for community members, particularly youth, that would otherwise be unable to participate in such activities.
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Shady Side Academy and its alumni have long been involved in the national and international arts community. The Academy has served as the setting for several feature films. The Academy’s alumni have also established themselves as authors, musicians, actors and filmmakers, including:
- Peter Ackerman '88, Hollywood screenwriter for the animated film Ice Age
- Tunde Adebimpe '93, Actor, director, and lead singer of the alternative rock band TV on the Radio; nominated for a Grammy Award in 2012
- Jon Beckerman '87, Producer, writer and creator of the television series Ed and The Knights of Prosperity
- Christian Borle '91, Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominated Broadway actor who starred in Spamalot, Legally Blonde and Mary Poppins. Now starring in the NBC TV drama Smash
- Gary Chang '71, Hollywood film composer and musician
- Chris Frantz '70, Drummer for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band "Talking Heads"
- David Guy '66, Author of the semi-autobiographical, Shady Side Academy-inspired novel Football Dreams, Second Brother and more
- Kerry Hannon '78, Author and women and finance writer for USA Today
- John Harrison '66, Hollywood writer, director, producer, composer and Emmy winner for the miniseries Dune
- Courtney Hershey Bress '92, Colorado Symphony Orchestra principal harpist
- Henry Hillman '37, Arts aficionado for whom the center is named
- Carl Kurlander 78, Hollywood screenwriter of the film St. Elmo's Fire and the television program Saved By The Bell
- David McCullough '51, Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian. Wrote 1776, John Adams and Truman.
- Thornton Oakley 1897, Turn-of-the-20th-century artist, illustrator and travel writer, most notably for Harper's and Scribner's magazines
- Richard E. Rauh '58, Film actor
- Mark Rosenthal '69, Former President and CEO of MTV Networks
- Owen Young '82, Boston Symphony Orchestra cellist
Now, at the turn of the 21st century, Shady Side Academy is sharing its arts initiatives with the larger Pittsburgh community. SSA believers and arts lovers came together to dream up The Hillman Center for Performing Arts. The facility was to serve the cultural needs of the greater Pittsburgh community while bolstering the school's existing arts curriculum. The idea was to design a professional arts series that could enhance the school's programming and make a positive impact on the Pittsburgh arts community.
In September 2004, Shady Side Academy celebrated the official opening of The Hillman Center for Performing Arts with an inaugural performance in the Richard E. Rauh Theater. Director of Programming and then Executive Director, David Liebmann, transitioned the theater into an official cultural venue; under his stewardship, the HCPA entered its first professional, public Performing Arts Series in fall 2006, with a performance by the Golden Dragon Acrobats from Hebei, China. Subsequent performances during the 2006-2007 season featured Pittsburgh's River City Brass Band and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. The 2007-2008 season included Boys of the Lough, a Grammy-nominated Celtic band; San Jose Taiko; Ira Ross & Friends; Samite of Uganda; Flamenco Sepharad; and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. View all past seasons of the Hillman Performing Arts Series.
In addition to offering a professional performance series, The Hillman Center for Performing Arts is a great venue for fundraisers and weddings, and the two state-of-the-art theaters serve as wonderful community resources. Guests have included Pittsburgh Concert Chorale; Chatham Baroque with the Pittsburgh Opera Center; Nandanik Indian Dance Troupe; Pittsburgh Youth Pops Orchestra; the Organization of Chinese Americans; and the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, among many others.