Our Stories, Our Lives

2015 Humanities Grants Recipients

The Michigan Humanities Council (MHC) is pleased to announce $220,234 in grants to 21 Michigan organizations in support of public humanities programming. In addition to this direct support, each agency was required to present matching cash or in-kind cost share, bringing an additional $494,722 to the table. This major grant cycle, the Humanities Grants, support projects exploring history, poetry, reading, education and community identity.

“The Council is pleased to support these humanities programs in Michigan,” said Jan Fedewa, Interim Executive Director of the Michigan Humanities Council. “These projects not only educate, inform, and enrich local audiences in these communities, but also attract visitors, support community development, and build capacity in organizations around the state.”

Humanities Grants are awarded to Michigan nonprofits in support of cultural, educational and community-based public humanities programming. These grants play a vital role in defining our culture, our state, our community and ourselves, and are intended to connect us to Michigan’s rich cultural heritage and historical resources.

MHC received 35 eligible applications for review in its fall 2015 deadline cycle. The organizations with award details and grant amounts are listed below.

ADAPT. Theatre Company
Project Name: Lines: The Lived Experience of Race 2016
Grant: $15,000
The project is a staging of an ethnographic play by ADAPT. Theatre Company. The goal of this project is to mount a professional quality theatrical production that illuminates and creates a space for community dialogue and action as related to racial issues in Grand Rapids. A wide cross- section of the community, including high school students and members of the community for whom the theatre is often financially inaccessible, will be able to experience the play. An important aspect of the production is its focus on community engagement and dialogue, which will be included as part of every performance through facilitated dialogue and participatory activities for audiences.

Advent House Ministries, Inc.
Project Name: Performing Poets: Expanding Horizons for All
Grant: $15,000
The project will add content to the Family Literacy Program by introducing children and adults to the art of Choral Reading of classic poetry. Participants in the Family Literacy Program will learn about different forms of literature in general, and poetry in particular. This project employs a fresh method by which the humanities – reading, writing, and philosophy – can be presented while increasing analytical and critical thinking skills, improving reading and writing, communication, and reasoning. This is particularly helpful to those who struggle with literacy and learning.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Project Name: The Road to Rebellion: Understanding 1967 Detroit
Grant: $15,000
The project includes a series of programs that will be held in 2016 to provide historical background about the social unrest that rocked Detroit, allow opportunities for constructive public discussions regarding difficult social issues, and prepare the region for the 50th anniversary commemorations that will be coming in 2017. The Wright will hold a series of four public programs on the last Sunday of every month from April through July 2016. Each program will be coordinated around a distinct theme related to the 1967 rebellion. In the month preceding each event, The Wright will provide a list of recommended reading materials to the community to help inform the discussion. People will be able to discuss the recommended reading materials via a social media hashtag, and be able to submit questions and reactions for the panelists in advance. Each public program will feature three scholars with a particular academic interest in that area of study, and will be moderated by a professional broadcaster.
By anchoring public discussions in nuanced historical perspectives, the project attempts to move beyond rhetoric and talking points and get closer to understanding and community healing.

Chelsea District Library
Project Name: “Strong Foundations/New Possibilities: The World War I Years, 1914-1918” World War I Installation Project
Grant: $9,000
The project will be a physical, digital and community project on display in downtown Chelsea, honoring the 100th anniversary of WWI and Chelsea’s history during the WWI era. The initial component will be recording of audio interviews with Chelsea residents and gathering of photographs, letters, stories, WWI artifacts, books, art, and research. This activity will be a continuation of the “Stories of Chelsea” long-
term historic preservation project, which chronicles the participation of Chelsea residents and descendants in past wars, including WWII and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The photographs gathered during this initial phase of the project will be used in a visual presentation of Chelsea’s WWI soldiers and their families, enlarged and printed on outdoor banners affixed to the sides of buildings throughout the Chelsea Commercial Historic District. The installation will include a Commemoration Board; opening and closing events; a brochure; special library exhibits; school tours, and additional activities.

Detroit Historical Society
Project Name: StoryLiving
Grant: $5,000
StoryLiving is an educational and community outreach program to provide children and adults throughout metro Detroit with the opportunity to experience history through hands-on-experiential learning. A professional storyteller leads participants back in time to discover history through drama, group pantomime, role playing, songs and creative problem-solving. The program’s multi-cultural team of professional musicians, theatre artists and educators bring to life the history of the region in one-hour “trip through time” workshops. Grant funding will be used to develop a new StoryLiving workshop project based on the events of the summer of 1967 in Detroit as part of the Society’s broader Detroit 1967 Project and provide StoryLiving programming to area schools or community centers free of charge.

Ella Sharp Museum
Project Name: Ella Sharp Museum Civil War Days
Grant: $9,500
Through the use of interpretive programming in the unique grouping of historic outbuildings at Ella Sharp Museum, an awareness of local Civil War history and how it continues to shape and define our society today will be developed. The project will also cultivate a greater understanding of the impact the Civil War had upon the people who experienced it – those who fought, their families, other cultural subgroups, and the city of Jackson as a whole.

Finlandia University
Project Name: “Writers of the Northern Persuasion”
Grant: $2,300
The Finlandia University Campus and Community Read Committee will facilitate the Writers of the Northern Persuasion project to bring multiple authors and publishers to the Finlandia campus for presentations and activities that will educate, entertain, and engage both students and the general public. Upon the conclusion of this semester-long project, the committee hopes to diminish the gap between writer and reader through this up-close opportunity to learn about the writer’s journey.

Flint Cultural Center Corporation
Project Name: Defining Flint in the 21st Century
Grant: $9,534
The project will immerse area residents in the history and culture of Flint and inspire a community conversation about what will define Flint’s identity during the remainder of the 21st century.
Sloan Museum will place five historic photographs from its collection in locations throughout the community. These images will be mounted in large frames with attached labels that provide a context for the scenes and will illustrate themes that have shaped Flint’s history and culture. The photos will connect to a Sloan Museum website that offers the opportunity to participate in a dialogue about Flint’s future. Participants will be challenged to photograph and submit “defining” images of objects, places, or people that will most shape Flint’s culture during the remainder of the 21st century. The museum, in collaboration with the Genesee County Historical Society and the University of Michigan-Flint Department of History, will create an exhibit from 25 submitted photographs and examine the trends in the contemporary images. The selected photographs and their descriptions will be included in the exhibit.

Flint Institute of Arts
Project Name: From Heart to Hand: African American Quilts
Grant: $15,000
An exhibition of African-American quilts and related programs will be brought to Flint and the Genesee County area. The goal of this project is to address systemic change toward racism through community- wide programs that teach through cultural diversity, tolerance and respect for diversity. Coinciding with Black History Month, the FIA will engage the community at large in celebrating the history, culture, and experience of African Americans. Associated programming will contribute to understanding among those with different backgrounds and beliefs.

Kerrytown BookFest
Project Name: Travels with Books
Grant: $4,650
Kerrytown BookFest will bring together a diverse cross-section of local and regional authors, book crafters, and book lovers in a free, open-air festival that engages 3,000 – 4,000 people in books and book arts. The grant funds will be used to support local and national authors who will be leading or participating in some of the 10 panel discussions. The audience has an opportunity to engage directly with the authors via question and answer sessions during the panels and during book signings.

Library of Michigan
Project Name: Michigan Notable Books Program
Grant: $15,000
The mission of the Michigan Notable Book program is to identify significant Michigan books and authors and make them accessible to every resident of the state regardless of location. The project is designed to identify, acknowledge, and track Michigan’s strongest writers and books and link them to the people of the state by means of 50 author visits to libraries and schools. Feedback from previous author tours have indicated that the program is effective in launching continuing conversations surrounding the books and authors selected.

Lost Voices
Project Name: Lost Voices: Creative Journeys for Youth at Risk
Grant: $15,000
Lost Voices will provide two six-day programs for Michigan’s at-risk youth at the Turning Point Youth Center in St. Johns, Michigan as well as one public Demonstration Concert. Through the Lost Voices program, youth–in collaboration with Lost Voices staff and musicians–write original roots music and then make their voices heard by performing in a concert format in front of their peers, teachers, therapists and parents. The Lost Voices experience uses roots music and oral tradition to give at-risk children a better chance of healing and eventually integrating into the larger community, and brings their stories out of the shadows and into the light of day. The songs written by these youth are frequently shared during Lost Voices public community concerts and associated radio interviews, extending the reach, exposure and impact of the program.

Michigan History Foundation
Project Name: Native American Perspectives on Early Michigan’s History
Grant: $14,000
This project is part of a larger exhibit and education effort at the Michigan Historical Center to tell Michigan’s untold stories and to improve Michigan’s ability to confront issues of diversity and racial equity through museum exhibits, programs and educational materials. In 2016, the current “Pre-contact” exhibit gallery will be renovated to become the Gichigamek Gallery. The project will enable more people of Michigan to see themselves in the long-term, principal exhibits. For this particular gallery, Native American perspectives on the pre-European contact period, early settlement and statehood will be added to the perspectives of archaeologists and scientists, and include presentations and discussions.

Michigan Opera Theatre
Project Name: Art After Auschwitz: An Intercultural Panel
Grant: $5,400
The project’s goals are to bring the Southeast Michigan community together to promote dialogue concerning the important moral messages revealed in the opera “The Passenger,” to be performed at the Detroit Opera House November 14–22, 2015. This panel of experts will lead the audience in a discussion of humanity’s ability to create art amidst and responding to even the most terrible tragedies. While “The Passenger” responds specifically to the Holocaust, the diversity of the audience and panelists will allow for a broader conversation on themes of defiance and remembrance in works of art. Out of this evening, and the conversations leading up to it, will come educational materials made available for teachers interested in integrating a discussion of “The Passenger,” art, and genocide in their curricula.

Michigan Radio (University of Michigan)
Project Name: Sounds of Michigan
Grant: $12,800
The overall goal of the Sounds of Michigan project is to promote a greater understanding of the rich, cultural heritage of Michigan’s people through the textures and themes of local, contemporary music. In order to accomplish this, the station’s award-winning journalists will produce six transporting media segments that share the cultural perspectives and personal stories of a diverse set of musicians. The public radio interviews and accompanying musical performances will be broadcast during Michigan Radio’s newsmagazine program, Stateside with Cynthia Canty, and distributed via the station’s website and social media pages. Michigan Radio’s project producers will conduct research and consult with experts, scholars, and professionals in the humanities field and network with the public in order to engage culturally diverse musicians/groups to be featured and humanities themes to be addressed. Subsequently, the music and voices of six selected musicians/groups will be elevated by producing and distributing radio segments and multimedia pieces that highlight their work.

Midland Center for the Arts
Project Name: Be(causes) and Effects Conference
Grant: $3,000
The (Be)causes and Effects Conference is a partnership between the Midland Historical Society and the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library. The conference is a one-day event featuring local historians who present and speak on a common historical theme of general interest each year. The 1st annual 2016 (Be)causes and Effects Conference will focus on World War I.

Muskegon Museum of Art
Project Name: Finding Common Ground
Grant: $15,000
In November of 2015, the Muskegon Museum of Art will launch Finding Common Ground, a presentation of cohesive, free community programming and events surrounding three exhibitions of major African American artists at the museum from November 5, 2015 through April 17, 2016. The primary goals of the project include building upon who we are within our African American community, creating the opportunities for various audiences to come together and connect with one another through shared experiences, and bringing a new level of audience engagement and discourse through cultural events. The project intends to establish fresh and new permanent relationships through broad-based, humanities-oriented, quality cultural programming and participation that crosses over perceived boundaries and barriers often associated with the fine arts.

Residential College (University of Michigan)
Project Name: 3rd Annual Voices of the Middle West
Grant: $7,050
Voices of the Middle West is a public conference and book fair featuring writers, independent presses, and journals based in the Midwestern United States. The festival’s goal is to bring together writers and presses from around the Midwest together with faculty and students from the region’s universities and members of the general public to showcase Midwestern letters and discuss trends in writing and publishing. The 2016 festival, scheduled for March 12, 2016, is the third annual event. A key goal of the festival is to showcase the racial and gender diversity in contemporary Midwestern literature.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve
Project Name: Paddle-to-the-Sea
Grant: $15,000
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary will partner with Song of the Lakes to bring awareness of the Great Lakes and their historical, cultural, wildlife, and geographical significance in American life. This project targets people in the region in general, and young people in particular, and is based on the classic book by Holling Clancy Holling, Paddle-to-the-Sea. The story captivates the imagination of people of all ages with its creative storyline and engagement of its audience during the musical and narrative performance. Free performances for schools and communities will take place March – November 2016.

Vicksburg Historical Society & Museum
Project Name: Battle on Sunset Lake
Grant: $3,000
Between 200 to 300 volunteer re-enactors from the North West Territory Alliance will descend upon Vicksburg from Friday night, June 24, 2016, to Sunday late afternoon to demonstrate, perform, educate, and live as they were in the Northwest Territory in the lead up to conflict between the King of England and the Patriots. They will kick off the event with a Fue de Joie on Friday evening at dusk, when all of the re-enactors will fire their guns into the air to signal the opening of the two-day event. Goals include serving the greater Vicksburg community with an interactive educational experience depicting the life of soldiers and families before, during and after the Revolutionary War in Michigan and the Midwest. The event involves nonprofits, schools, the village government, and area residents in staging a successful Battle of Sunset Lake, re-enacting the skirmishes during the British occupation of Michigan and the eastern seaboard of America from 1775-1776.

Wild Swan Theater
Project Name: “Rosie the Riveter”
Grant: $15,000
Wild Swan Theater will develop an original musical production, “Rosie the Riveter,” for upper elementary, middle, high school, family, adult, and senior audiences. It will tell the remarkable story of the women who filled thousands of Michigan factory jobs left empty by men suddenly called to war. With the cooperation of the Michigan Chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association (ARRA), the stories of these trailblazing women will be uncovering and shared

Major Grants are awarded to Michigan nonprofits in support of cultural, educational and community-based public humanities programming. These grants play a vital role in defining our culture, our state, our community and ourselves, and are intended to connect us to Michigan’s rich cultural heritage and historical resources.

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