Inspired Ways to Stay Connected

A group of people kneeling around a large communal paintingWith its main physical space on the Pittsburgh campus currently closed, the Center for Creativity is encouraging members of the University community to help bring a virtual space for creation, ideation and connection to life.

Sometimes it's tough to get started on a creative project. The blank page, blank canvas, blank screen can be both liberating and frustrating. Where to begin? 

Follow the Center for Creativity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily creative prompts.

“Our current plan includes a collaborative online project to help connect the community via virtual programs and events, a blog, a zine and a podcast,” said workshop manager Erik Schuckers, who also noted there are other ideas still in development.

“Our hope is to engage not only the Pittsburgh campus, but other campuses, too: One of the exciting things about online programming is that we can bring together creative energies across the whole Pitt system,” Shuckers said.

Finding new ways to connect

Additionally, the center’s regular open mic nights will use the Zoom platform beginning on Thursday, March 26, with a special session on what’s keeping participants healthy and grounded during social distancing. The event is open to work in any genre—spoken word, improv, dance, etc.—that can be performed; shy participants can choose to perform off-camera if desired.

“I think of it as creativity-to-go or maybe take-out creativity,” said Jeanne Marie Laskas, professor in the Writing Program in the Department of English and founding director of the center. “Our workshop may be closed, but we're still making, finding new ways to connect Pitt creators of all kinds. Creative prompts on Twitter, open mic nights on Zoom—it's a whole new world to explore.”

The University Events Calendar has full details and the Zoom link.

Connection through the Year of Creativity

Some of the University’s Year of Creativity programming has been canceled or postponed, but the University community is encouraged to tag social posts with #PittCreates and #creativityliveshere hashtags, as Year of Creativity and Center for Creativity efforts go forward this term.

Additionally, projects that received Year of Creativity funding may use that funding in the fall term; organizers can send an email to to alert the planning committee of any changes in plans.

“We want to emphasize that creativity still lives here,” said Kit Ayars, director of the center and co-chair of the Year of Creativity with Laskas. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Year of Creativity effort or a Center for Creativity effort—Pitt is creative: together, apart and apart together.”

A coronavirus content contest

The response to the COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted daily life for the vast majority of people, but creative responses to public health issues can empower and educate others and positively affect health, well-being and behavior.

The center is accepting submissions from the University community for creative responses and interventions to the pandemic. From creating an earworm to reminding people of important prevention strategies or to making memes to encourage hand washing or social distancing, entries can be of any format in any genre and can be written or visual, analog or digital.

The deadline for entries is Friday, April 10, at 5 p.m. All entries should be submitted to Schuckers via email at; performative entries can be submitted as audio or video files.

Winning entries will be selected based on creativity, accuracy and power of communication. The center plans to share entries through its social media channels.