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Quantum Theatre Launches NearBuy Initiative To Support Neighborhood Businesses

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NearBuy is a partnership supporting restaurants and businesses local to the neighborhoods that will host its 2020-2021 season.

Quantum Theatre has announced the launch of its newest initiative - NearBuy, a partnership supporting restaurants and businesses local to the neighborhoods that will host its 2020-2021 season.

The year-long initiative, which harnesses the power of Quantum's community-minded audience members, was brought to life through a community development grant awarded to Quantum Theatre from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

"We believe that our artistic works are unifying, and we are happy to do the groundwork necessary to engage with and enrich the communities that host us so kindly, and we know our audience shares that commitment," said founding Artistic Director Karla Boos.

Quantum will begin working with its first three local businesses on September 14, 2020, encouraging its patrons to eat and shop with those Near Buy partners through October 16th. Partners receive a guaranteed minimum amount of sales through their participation. Additionally, every dollar spent by customers who mention the Near Buy Program, up to that guarantee, will be matched by in the form of gift cards purchased and distributed to local neighbors in need.

"The economic impacts of COVID-19 are pervasive, and overcoming them will require sustained effort and innovative solutions," said Richard King Mellon Foundation Director Sam Reiman. "This creative collaboration is exactly the kind of thinking the Foundation was seeking in our COVID-19 economic impact and recovery program, and we are pleased our funding is enabling it to come to life."

As the program continues over the coming year it will grow and expand, offering larger guarantees and partnering with a dozen additional businesses. Downtown partners will be the focus of November and December of 2020, the future neighborhood host of Quantum's production of Chimerica. Another 6 partnerships in Homewood and Point Breeze North will be the focus of April and May of 2021 in connection with the company's world premiere of The Current War.

"This is a very hard time for all kinds of business that primarily connect with their customers in-person," said Executive Director Stewart Urist. "There is widespread belief that many food and beverage establishments will not survive, changing the character of neighborhoods for years to come. We must do what we can to help. We immediately thought of our adventurous audience that has followed our shows to so many neighborhoods over the past 30 years, often taking our advice on local restaurants to complete their neighborhood experience. Our hope is that by focusing the collective support of this community-minded group of art lovers, we can make a real difference and support long-term neighborhood health."

Though the program has the full support of Quantum's executive and artistic leadership and its board of directors is deeply involved, it's the special brainchild of Community Engagement Associate Jalina McClarin. Her choice was to reach out to businesses owned and operated by people of color in the pilot program.

"One thing that became clear as federal COVID-19 assistance for small businesses was allocated and distributed is that businesses owned by people of color - and Black businesses in particular - were often left out of the picture," said McClarin. "When Quantum was awarded this grant, I was immediately grateful to have the ability to help narrow that gap, at least a small amount, here in Pittsburgh. The best way to work through times of turmoil is by loving each other and supporting each other. Community care is the solution, and it's really an honor to partner with these folks."

Participating businesses for the pilot program in September will include:

  • Cobbler World: With a downtown storefront and a regular presence at the Robinson Farmer's Market, Cobbler World is a bakeshop, which focuses on the nostalgic confections that many of us have grown up enjoying.

  • Everyday Café: Located in Homewood, Everyday Cafe is a cafe with a cause, created by Bible Center Church as a place for neighbors to grab a coffee or a bite to eat, spend time with friends, or just relax.

  • Yuzu Kitchen: Using locally sourced ingredients Yuzu Kitchen is a Japanese, Chinese, and Korean influence establishment.

When Terina J. Hicks, owner of Cobbler World, was laid off in 2015, she decided she would no longer work for someone else. She took a leap of faith, and with "nothing to lose and everything to gain," her cobblers took off. Today, Cobbler World is a bakeshop that focuses on nostalgic confections not found at many bakeries. "I bake the sweet treats that you enjoyed as a kid and you still love to this day; banana bread, pineapple upside cakes, rice pudding, lemon meringue pies and, of course, cobblers," said Hicks.

Kiya Heard, Manager of Everyday Café, is excited to partner with Quantum Theatre to encourage patrons to not only support the arts but local business as well. " I believe that our cafe is a space in Homewood where arts and culture has been celebrated since our opening," said Heard. "We all look forward to meeting new customers and building our community up through this partnership."

Kai Guo, owner-operator and chef, opened Yuzu Kitchen in Downtown Pittsburgh in 2017. "We pride ourselves in serving Japanese ramen made with real pork and chicken - not packaged soup bases - and stir fries made with fresh vegetables that are never frozen," said Guo. "The high-quality ingredients used in our dishes is what I believe sets us apart."

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