The Brew House Association has acted as a hub for artists, curators and other creatives since its inception in 1993 from the former Duquesne Brewing Plant. Now, the South Side Gallery and Incubator will move forward with a new Executive Director and other staff equipped to support its mission.
Brew House has announced that effective July 1, Program Director Natalie Sweet has been promoted to General Manager. The organization also announced that Stephanie Garrison will take over as program director and that Brent Nakamoto has been hired to the new position of program and marketing coordinator for Brew House.
A press release says the promotions are part of a strategic planning process focused on “increasing staff capacity and retaining talent.” Brew House’s board realized that its staff of just “1.5 full-time equivalents” was not enough to manage day-to-day programs while “navigating the pandemic and while simultaneously considering an ambitious growth plan for the organization”.
As a result, Brew House decided that “increasing capacity and developing a corresponding budget and staffing structure would be essential to maintaining organizational health financially and culturally”.
Sweet, a New Jersey native and University of Pittsburgh graduate, originally joined Brew House’s board of trustees in 2015 before being promoted to program director in 2018. She also served as exhibit and program coordinator at Contemporary Craft.
As program director, Sweet is credited with founding Prospectus, the organization’s curatorial development residency program, and fostering collaborations with local organizations such as Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, Women of Visions, Let’s Get Free: The Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee and Evolve Coaching. . Sweet is also cited as leading a fundraising effort that raised $350,000 to support Brew House’s “artistic programming and financial resilience.”
Sweet also organized Reunion: artists and adaptationthe first exhibition to take place in Brew House’s new 2,700 square foot gallery after it reopened in 2017 after a series of renovations.
In her new role, Sweet will continue to lead the organization’s fundraising efforts.
and overseeing the organization’s artistic vision, as well as “refocusing efforts on developing the exhibition program as a vital support for a viable ecosystem for Pittsburgh artists”.
“It has been an honor to lead the arts programming for the Brew House Association for the past four years and to serve as steward of an organization with such a rich history of supporting artists,” said Sweet. “I look forward to continuing this in the future and developing my leadership practice as our organization grows.
Brew House joins a number of Pittsburgh arts and culture organizations that have recently experienced leadership transitions. In April, Mattress Factory named David Oresick, former executive director and chief curator of the Silver Eye Center for Photography, as its new executive director. In May, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater announced that its artistic director Susan Jaffe would be leaving for the American Ballet Theater in New York in December.
Sam Laffey, recently elected chairman of the Brew House board and chair of the strategic planning committee, joined the board just months after Sweet became program director, and says it’s been “wonderful to working with her and watching her develop her leadership skills over the past few years.”
“Where she once leaned heavily on the board, she now kisses
confidence in her knowledge, passion and abilities to lead this organization,” says Laffey, adding that she already had many responsibilities as CEO. “I’m glad we can both recognize past work and invest in empowering his leadership for the future.”
In addition to Sweet, Garrison, who has served as Brew House’s part-time operations director since 2015, will increase her hours as the program’s new director. Nakamoto, a multidisciplinary artist who is also an assistant lecturer at Community College of Allegheny County, will support Sweet and take on more program-based marketing for the organization.
“We’re really excited about the skills and experience Brent brings to the team,” Laffey said.