Our History

Our organization originated when a young, disengaged African-American man met Pittsburgh Public High School art teacher Frank Ross in the 1960s. Ross mentored our Founder & Executive Chairman Bill Strickland throughout his teenage years. He impressed upon Strickland the powers of art, education and community and helped him obtain entrance to the University of Pittsburgh.


Wanting to give back to his struggling neighborhood the opportunities he received through Ross’ generosity, Strickland started a small ceramics program while he was still in college in Pittsburgh’s Manchester neighborhood in 1968.


Strickland christened the program the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG) because he admired the European guild system in which masters passed on their skills and knowledge to young apprentices.


Now, the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild has two programs housed under it: the MCG Youth & Arts program and MCG Jazz, which has been preserving, promoting and presenting jazz through its concert series and educational programming since 1987.


Strickland’s contributions to the arts and the community have been well documented and honored with numerous prestigious awards. Strickland has served a six-year Presidential appointment as a Council Member of the National Endowment for the Arts and received the MacArthur Fellowship for leadership and ingenuity in the arts.