Upcoming Humanities Grant Events

For Humanities Grant Inquiries Contact

James Nelson
Director of Grants
jnelson “at” mihumanities.org

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Humanities Grant Award Recipients

Spring 2020 Humanities Grants – Total: $204,284

For list by county, click here.

1.) A Host of People: Death of Cleopatra

Award: $15,000
Project: Detroit-based ensemble A Host of People is collaborating with Lebanese-American poet Kamelya Youssef and Egyptian writer Mariam Bazeed on a new translated adaptation of Ahmed Shawqi’s 1927 play Death Of Cleopatra. It is a companion piece to our most recent play, Cleopatra Boy, but where it dealt with Western representations of Cleopatra, Death Of Cleopatra works out from a single Egyptian source. From there, we’ll incorporate research, new scholarship, and contemporary arab culture while centering Arab women and the often ignored LGBTQ Arab experience. This project was co-commissioned by, and will premiere at, the Arab American National Museum.

2.) Artworks: Big Rapids: A Tribue to Willful Women

Award: $4,774
Project: Big Rapids arts, cultural, and service organizations are partnering through 2020 for a year-long celebration of women for the 100-year anniversary of the 19th amendment. Our application requests support for a multi-sourced, collaborative eight-week celebration of history’s willful women with exhibits and educational programming coordinated by Artworks (even a parade!). The exhibits will include local, state, and national women who made a difference, history of the suffrage movement, and engaging opportunities for learning and creativity for people of all ages.

3.) Beaver Island Historical Society: Who Was Here Before You?

Award: $15,000
Project: Beaver Island Historical Society (BIHS) in partnership with Northern Michigan University (NMU) and the Little Traverse Band of Odawa Indians will produce humanities-based programming that presents the unique history of Beaver Island. The project ‘Who Was Here Before You?’ includes the curation and installation of a permanent exhibition for the BIHS Print Shop Museum, a public presentation for BIHS Museum Week, a publication about island archaeology, and provides an opportunity for hands-on learning experiences for future museum and cultural resource professionals.

4.) Copper Country Community Arts Center: Letterpress Printing Interpretive Program

Award: $3,260
Project: Through installation of display panels and implementation of a guided tour program, the project will transform the letterpress printing studio at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock, Michigan into a small-scale museum of printing, providing a cultural experience for Arts Center visitors.

5.) Crooked Tree Arts Council: Kindred: Traditional Arts of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians

Award: $15,000
Project: Crooked Tree Arts Center’s interpretive exhibition, Kindred: Traditional Arts of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, examines the complexities of preserving culture and community through historic and contemporary examples of traditional Odawa artwork. Created in partnership with the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, the exhibition’s informative displays and related programming ask questions about the choices, obligations, and opportunities we have when it comes to sustaining culture. Pieces from public and private collections from across the state will be displayed in CTAC’s Petoskey galleries, located along the coastal homeland of the Odawa people.

6.) Detroit Public Television Foundation: Interfaith in Action

Award: $15,000
Project: Detroit Public Television (DPTV) will partner with the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit (IFLC) to follow 7th grade students as they engage with and learn about five world religions. The IFLC’s ‘Religious Diversity Journeys’ program connects hundreds of students from various school districts with religious organizations to learn from leaders and teachers. Over a six-month period, DPTV will capture and record the growth and reflections of students, along with information about each faith. DPTV will create and distribute lasting video resources that will allow other students and audiences to share in these religious diversity journeys.

7.) Detroit Public Theatre: Considering the Carceral State

Award: $15,000
Project: Detroit Public Theatre will produce Liza Jessie Peterson’s award-winning one-woman show, THE PECULIAR PATRIOT, in April-May of 2021. The production will be accompanied by robust community engagement including targeted promotion and audience curation events; facilitated post-show talkbacks led by returned citizens, people personally impacted by the carceral system, community organizers, and experts in the field; a limited tour of the play and accompanying workshops to several Michigan prisons; organizational partnerships to facilitate direct engagement with system-impacted community members; and deeply discounted and complimentary tickets to alleviate economic barriers to participation.

8.) Eastern Michigan University: Harold Neal and Detroit African American Artists Exhibition

Award: $15,000
Project: This exhibition of forty paintings and sculptures explores the efflorescence of Detroit African American art from the 1950s through the 1970s. It sheds light on the work of Harold Neal—an unsung Detroit artist—and ten of his predecessors, contemporaries and successors. They were shaped by various cultural currents: the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power and Black Arts Movements. There will be a catalogue with a 45,000 word curatorial essay, tours for high-school and college students and a panel discussion and lecture for the general public. The exhibition will run first at EMU in Ypsilanti and then in Detroit.

9.) Hope College: The Little Read Lakeshore

Award: $15,000
Project: The Little Read Lakeshore program, a month-long community-wide reading program focused on the reading of a children’s picture book, will take place during November 2020. Our chosen book for this year is Galapagos Girl/Galapaguena by Marsha Diane Arnold. This bilingual children’s book was inspired by the childhood of Valentina Cruz, whose family was one of the first permanent inhabitants of the Galápagos. Valentina is now a biologist and naturalist guide who has dedicated her life to the conservation of the islands. Our program will partner with 13 Lakeshore libraries, over 25 elementary and preschools, and at least 4 non-profit organizations to organize community and school events.

10.) Long Haul Productions: Transformation-Soutwest Michigan Communities Face the Pandemic

Award: $15,000
Project: Long Haul Productions, an award-winning audio documentary not-for-profit based in rural Southwest Michigan, will document the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in nearby communities over the next 4-8 months, finding and following characters from local medical centers, businesses, and organizations. We’ll present these alongside historical vignettes from the same communities during the 1918 Flu pandemic, helping listeners put the events in context and consider what he have—or haven’t—learned in the last 100 years. The resulting stories will be released online, and as a radio series or national podcast, with a strong promotional campaign to bring maximum audience and exposure.

11.) Matrix Theatre Co.: The Race Detroit

Award: $15,000
Project: “The Race: Detroit 2020” is a community-driven, professionally-produced, theatrical, civic experience that is part-play, part-town hall, part-community event that explores what democratic and civic leadership really mean to Detroiters, beyond the stump speeches and spin. A professional ensemble of Detroit-based artists will spend six months engaging with diverse communities to create a script guided by meaningful, urgent, and place-based civic inquiries, culminating in an immersive experience leading up to, on, and after the Presidential Election of 2020. This project is a multi-pronged inquiry to determine what Detroit has, wants, and needs from city, state, and national civic leaders.

12.) Michigan Tech. University Archives: From the Rink to the Repository-100 Years of Michigan Tech Hockey

Award: $12,250
Project: This project includes programming and oral history work to tie in with the Michigan Tech Athletic Department’s celebration of one hundred years of the varsity men’s ice hockey program. The key components will be the development of a traveling exhibit and public programs (which will include community scanning events) to launch the installation of the exhibit at each new site. Oral history work will include the capture of memories and meaning for one of our most beloved aspects of university sports culture. We plan to conduct interviews with current and former players and coaches, administrators, alumni, students, and fans.

13.) Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit: Considering Our Stories Program Series

Award: $7,000
Project: The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) presents Considering Our Stories, a public programming series relating to two exhibitions at MOCAD: Stupor Zine 25th Anniversary and Amna Asghar: Well Wishes. Both exhibitions speak to the relationship between art, identity, and human relationships; in particular, the stories we share and how they shape our conceptions of the groups we belong to. By using art installations as sites for creativity, and bringing the community together through art-making and storytelling, this series will collect narratives about the city of Detroit and its inhabitants.

14.) Raven Hill Discovery Center: Labor Days-A History of Work

Award: $15,000
Project: As one of ten organizations in the United States chosen to participate, Raven Hill Discovery Center is partnering with Smithsonian Museum on Main Street (MoMS) staff on a pilot project to create the exhibit: Labor Days: A History of Work. Raven Hill will display the exhibit from August 15 to September 30, 2020. Labor Days is about the history of who, where, why and how we work. It will chronicle the variety of work done in northern Lower Michigan over the past 150 years, comparing that work diversity to the rest of Michigan and the nation during the same period.

15.) Saginaw Valley State University: 2021 Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival

Award: $15,000
Project: The 2021 Triennial Roethke Poetry and Arts (RPA) Festival, scheduled for March 19-24, 2021, is a series of cultural programs, community-arts activities, and hands-on experiences in the Great Lakes Bay Region. This Festival features the visit of two award-winning American poets, the current and past Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize winners, who will provide poetry readings and discussions, along with writing workshops. Several other unique events are part of this six-day festival, designed to enhance understanding of Michigan poet Theodore Roethke’s work, to share contemporary poetry with the residents of our region, and to encourage our community to create and celebrate the arts.

16.) Underground Railroad Society of Cass County: Underground Railroad Days 2020

Award: $12,000
Project: The 11th Annual Underground Railroad Days is a three day festival the second weekend in July that celebrates the history and legacy of the Underground Railroad in Cass County Michigan, primarily the area around Vandalia. It is a collaboration between the Village of Vandalia and the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County (URSCC).There are two aspects of the festival. URSCC sponsors and anchors the historic aspect with tours, presentations, exhibits, and reenactments pertaining to the UGRR. The Village of Vandalia sponsors and anchors the family oriented side with kids events, a soul food dinner, a gospel fest, arts and crafts booths, and an outdoor community church service.


Fall 2019 

Calvin University

Project Name: The Undefeated: Presenting Kadir Nelson for Black History Month and Festival of Faith & Writing
Grant Request: $15,000
Region: Southwest
Project Summary: For West Michigan and beyond, our project aims to provide impactful humanities experiences through an exhibition of the work of Kadir Nelson, internationally renowned and award-winning artist and author-illustrator. Nelson’s unforgettable paintings have made him an exceptional artist for our times, illuminating the brilliance found in the lives of black heroes, well-known and unsung. This exhibition will serve as the Midwest location for Nelson’s national tour, showcasing work from his 2019 book THE UNDEFEATED, a poetic celebration of black history co-created with writer Kwame Alexander. We will further expand the book’s visual and verbal vision through curriculum, public-school programming, community events & gallery talks, and multimedia resources. 

Center for the Arts of Greater Lapeer

Project Name: Women’s Suffrage project
Grant Request: $13,688
Region: Mid-Michigan (Thumb)
Project Summary:  This project will tell the story of the sacrifices of the women of the 19th and 20th Centuries.  In honor of the ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing all women the right to vote in the United States on August 18, 1920, these 21st century females are creating a presentation about the eighty-year struggle that brought the 19th Amendment to fruition.  Centering the story from the perspective of the women in the movement from Michigan.

Charles H. Wright Museum

Project Name: Bird Lives! “Yardbird: Conversations”
Grant Request: $15,000
Region: Southeast (Detroit)
Project Summary:  Bird Lives! “Yardbird Conversations” is a core component of a larger compendium of programs designed to celebrate the centennial birthday of the legendary saxophonist, Charles Parker, Jr., known as Charlie Parker, Bird and Yardbird. This project will place a national spotlight on Detroit’s centrality in the development of bebop, a musical style the founded by Parker and his cohorts, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk in the 1940s.

Flint Youth Film Festival

Project Name: Flint Youth Film Festival
Grant Request: $15,000
Region: Mid-Michigan/Southeast
Project Summary: A youth-driven project to capture and share stories about the Flint water crisis.

Marquette Regional History Center

Project Name: The Great Outdoors: The History of Outdoor Recreation in Marquette County
Grant Request: $5,400
Region: U.P.
Project Summary: Outdoor recreation has always been part of Marquette County’s unique local culture. Marquette County covers more land area than the state of Rhode Island and most of it is wilderness. Outdoor recreation opportunities abound. We seek to give outdoor recreation the serious treatment as a historical subject it deserves. From June 20 through December of 2020, the Marquette Regional History Center (MRHC) will host Great Outdoors: The History of Outdoor Recreation in Marquette County. This special exhibit and program series will engage the public in thinking about outdoor recreation as a humanities topic.

Michigan Opera Theatre

Project Name: Taking the Stage: The Changing Voice of Opera and Dance\
Grant Request: $15,000
Region: Southeast (Detroit)
Project Summary: Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) will continue in the coming year our commitment to interpreting opera and dance performances with humanities-oriented programming. Building on the successes of previous education and community programs, MOT is making this application to support the first phase of a new multi-year program, tentatively titled “Taking the Stage: The Changing Voice of Opera and Dance.” As MOT has planned several productions in the next several years dedicated to the African American experience, we feel it is necessary that we acknowledge and discuss with audiences how artistic canons benefit from the inclusion of a multiplicity of voices. Forums will take the form of a panel discussion and lecture series, film screenings, interpretive educational modules for middle- and high-school students, and pre- and post-performance conversations with audiences, taking place at the Detroit Opera House and across Southeastern Michigan.

Michigan State University

Project Name: Storied Landscapes: Bridging Ecological and Oral Histories on the Corey Marsh Interpretive Trail
Grant Request: $10,718
Region: Mid-Michigan
Project Summary: The Corey Marsh Interpretive Trail will inspire care for ecological systems and special places through stories. The ways people interact with nature have changed significantly over the last century; that change has been accelerated by technological changes that result in youth and adults spending more time with technology than with one another or the outdoors. This project combines ecological education with historical narrative and outdoor activity through an interpretive and educational trail, creating a new opportunity to connect people to nature and enable community members to participate in the re-storying of the land. The site of this project is the Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch Corey Marsh Ecological Research Center (CMERC).

MSU Museum

Project Name: Beyond Black Panther: Visions of Afrofuturism in American Comics exhibit and programs
Grant Request: $10,000
Region: Mid-Michigan
Project Summary: The MSU Museum requests funding to develop an innovative exhibition exploring the themes of Afrofuturism through the lens of comic books. The exhibition includes comics from the Comic Art Collection at the MSU Library to highlight how the black imagination in comics can be a window on Afrofuturism. Large graphic panels of comic book elements will draw visitors in and encourage them to explore beyond what they know of Black Panther to walk away with a clearer understanding of what Afrofuturism is and the importance of the Black Imaginary in envisioning the future. In addition, we will bring two comic book authors to East Lansing to present related programs open to the public.

Museum of Ojibwa Culture

Project Name: Unlocking the Silence/A Path to Empowerment Travelling Exhibit
Grant Request: $15,000
Region: U.P./Statewide
Project Summary: A traveling exhibit will focus on the history of Michigan’s boarding schools. Michigan has a long history of land sharing through the vast and rich sharing among the Indigenous people and Euro-American settlers, since the beginning of statehood. Through this vast and rich history, inevitably displacement and conflict occurred in the development of the state. A part of this history includes the attempted assimilation of the Native American people already residing on the land. Hundreds of thousands of Native people were already residing in the state of Michigan, before settlers came to occupy territories, the first being Sault Ste. Marie in 1668, by Father Jacques Marquette. One way the colonizers of the time tried to assimilate native people of Michigan was by building boarding schools, (residential schools, as they are known in Canada) in 1893. Thousands of Native youth from the surrounding Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota area attended the Michigan Boarding schools, and because of that, many generations have been directly or indirectly affected by the largely negative impacts of the boarding school system.

Planet Ant Theater

Project Name: The Detroit Musical
Grant Request: $15,000
Region: Southeast
Project Summary:  The intent of The Detroit Musical is to present a comprehensive history of Detroit in an entertaining and digestible way in order to revive lost civic pride and remind the community that Detroit has been an important driver in American culture and the global economy. Planet Ant has workshopped this script with three low budget, small-scale productions, and each version has been received with overwhelming enthusiasm. The comment that Planet Ant staff most frequently hears during these smaller runs is “Everyone who lives here should see this show.” Funding from Michigan Humanities can help to upgrade this show from a quirky little independent production that a small number of dedicated theater fans have seen into a powerful full-scale production with impressive sets, elaborate costumes and bigger song and dance numbers. This funding allows Planet Ant to add the final touches that will make for a greater overall experience that will be more attractive to mainstream consumers.

Westshore Community College

Project Name: WSCC’s humankind series: “Dreams, Promises, and Realities: Life in Cuba and the US”
Grant Request: $15,000
Region: Mid-Michigan
Project Summary: This is a request to provide partial support of arts and cultural components of West Shore Community College’s 2019-2020 HUMANKIND series, “Dreams, Promises, and Realities: Life in Cuba and the US.” The series includes exhibits, lectures, performances, texts, short residencies, movies, and discussions. We are seeking MHC funds for honoraria, lodging, and/or promotional costs for six presenters, an exhibit, and three movies with discussions.

Youth Arts: Unlocked

Project Name: HerStory: Unlocked Project
Grant Request: $15,000
Region: Southeast/Mid-Michigan
Project Summary: The HERSTORY: UNLOCKED Project empowers justice-involved girls by enabling them to find their own voices and become the tellers of their own stories. Youth Arts: Unlocked (YAU) will provide a year-long series of weekly Women’s History and arts based workshops to girls and LGB/GNC (gender non-conforming) youth housed at GVRC, Flint and Genesee County Michigan’s youth detention facility. HERSTORY: UNLOCKED workshops are trauma-informed, strengths-based and gender-responsive – they have been developed by the YAU team to specifically address the unique needs of incarcerated girls and LGB/GNC youth.

2018 Spring Grant Recipients

2017 Fall Grant Recipients

2016 Grant Recipients

2015 Grant Recipients