Welcome to the newly launched Rotunda Collaborative website. We are delighted to introduce you to our new community arts space at the former B’nai Israel synagogue. The project is the brainchild of Alyson Bonavoglia and Sara Stock Mayo. We got started somewhat organically. We met through a mutual acquaintance who thought we would have a lot in common (she was right!) and started immediately discussing some of our dreams, those big questions of: what would you do if you could do anything you wanted?
With Alyson’s background as an arts administrator and Sara’s background as a singer, activist and spiritual leader, we began discussing how many of our interests and goals overlapped. We both see the arts as a vital bridge for having real conversations about the world from varying viewpoints. Witnessing the changes in East Liberty, we feel it is essential to make our space welcoming to all, most importantly the residents of the broader neighborhood. We want to find ways to appeal to many audiences, both adults and children and to bring audiences together in ways we don’t usually see in the Cultural District downtown. We are inspired by the work of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, the Pittsburgh Glass Center, BOOM Concepts and the Union Project who will become some of our arts neighbors and see our project as working alongside existing programs and performances/exhibits as East Liberty blossoms into its own arts destination for Pittsburghers and visitors alike.
Given that the space was built to be a spiritual sanctuary, we didn’t want to lose the original intentions of the architect. We continue to talk to scholars and archivists like Eric Lidji of the Heinz History Center Rauh Archives as we consider the best ways to honor the Jewish history and architectural details of the space.
We have so much to share and cannot wait to have our first project launch. We have commissioned local artists to create original works about what the neighborhood means to them. It will be mounted on the construction fencing on Negley Ave, opening in October. We welcome your stories and your feedback with the knowledge that what we are trying to build is a collaborative experience with multiple voices. We plan to have regular updates in this space about pop up events, our collaborators, and information with opportunities for getting involved artistically, educationally or as a member of the community.