Since its inception in the 1970s, Illinois Humanities has had a grants program. Unlike then, today we run a number of our own programs – Museum on Main Street, The Odyssey Project, Road Scholars, Envisioning Justice, the Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards, Sojourner Scholars, and others. All have a common thread of enriching people’s lives through access to lifelong learning and the public humanities. Our Community Grants program also persists, with the goal of providing capacity building in order to help nurture the arts, culture and public humanities infrastructure in communities across the state of Illinois. As in all of our programming, a rich network of partners is what makes a growing footprint of active community engagement possible.
This blog post is meant to honor the many partners we work with through our Vision, Action and Multiplier grants. The list below is not comprehensive; we’ll shine a spotlight on other grants partners as news arrives about their work in coming months. Finally, we are also in debt to the many projects we are unable to fund; all of you are part of an amazing ecosystem of activity that makes life in this diverse state better for many.
An end of year thanks to grantee partners seems due; and here’s to a great, productive upcoming year ahead!
The Team at Illinois Humanities
(Note that Illinois Humanities also has launched additional, time-sensitive grants programs in recent years: Illinois Speaks micro-grants, “Forgotten Illinois” grants, Envisioning Justice storytelling grants, and others.)
The Chicago SNCC History Project’s 2019 conference on “The Global Sixties,” which Illinois Humanities helped fund in 2019, recently announced the dates for its 2020 conference. The 2020 conference is entitled “Who Will Educate Our Communities and For What: Creating Alternative Learning Spaces.” The project, which aims to increase understanding of the 1960’s Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, will take place February 28-29, 2020. SNCC is also in the early stages of working with filmmaker Catherine Murphy on a documentary about the project. (awarded 12/2018)
Collaboraction Theatre, which Illinois Humanities supports through an Action grant, is preparing “Englewood: A Love Story,” which will premiere in January at Kennedy-King College. Collaboraction has hired playwright / director Reginald Edmund (currently founder and managing curating producer for Black Lives Black Words International Project) to work on the project, which will include performances at Kennedy-King College January 14-25, 2020. Here is a short video about Collaboraction. (awarded 8/2019)
In the ‘Wish we could plan this far in advance’ category…
Monmouth College has just announced the date for its 2020 Classics Day, which Illinois Humanities is funding with an Action grant. The 5th Classics Day, it will feature more than 30 interactive demonstrations of theater, games, art, dance, clothing, history, mythology and other activities representing Greek and Roman cultures. The event will take place Saturday, September 26th, from 1-4 p.m. Follow the Classics Day Festival on Facebook. (awarded 8/2019)
We Won an Award!
Illinois Humanities and its partners at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville received an award November 19, 2019 from the Illinois Association of Museums for the website produced to showcase our 20 “Forgotten Illinois” grantee projects. This online gallery was a partnership between Illinois Humanities, Jessica DeSpain and Ben Ostermeier of SIUE’s IRIS Center, the Illinois State Historical Society (which helped promote the grants initiative), and Jeanne Schultz Angel and Jim Nowlan, who wrote essays for the website. The Forgotten Illinois grants initiative was meant to support research, art and classroom activities celebrating lesser-known aspects of the state’s history and identity. Find out more about the award and ceremony.
The Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, or CLATA, hosted a vibrant six-week theater festival this fall with support from an Illinois Humanities Multiplier grant. The 3rd “Destinos” festival featured 12 plays, culminating in a final performance in Mexico City. (awarded 8/2019)
Honey Pot Performance received a Multiplier grant earlier this year for its Black Chicago Social Culture Mapping project. Honey Pot (in addition to partnering with Illinois Humanities’s Sojourner Scholars program) led a series of performances “Ways of Knowing” at Experimental Station in November. A Chicago Defender story covered the new mapping project. (awarded 8/2019)
Bradley University’s Department of Art and Design received Illinois Humanities support for the 2019 “Midwest Women Artists: Champions of the Environment, 1970s to the Present” symposium. The conference, which took place in Peoria on November 7-8, 2019 and is run by Bradley’s Kristan McKinsey, featured panels on topics such as art and place, mentors and muses, and art embracing science. (awarded 8/2019)
Restore Justice Foundation received Illinois Humanities funding for a statewide initiative, Beyond Cook County: Community Dialogues and Partnerships. With a Multiplier grant, RJF will lead community discussions across the state, with emphasis on Belleville, Peoria, Decatur, Rockford and Lake County (following a high-profile felony-murder case there). Look for more dialogues across the state in 2020! (awarded 8/2019)
Community TV Network, or CTVN, received Illinois Humanities support for the initiative “The Good of Chicago: Humboldt Park.” CTVN, founded in 1974, uses media as a tool to improve the education, quality of life, and opportunities available to underserved youth in Chicago. The new webseries aims to counteract negative depictions of Chicago neighborhoods by uplifting the voices of young people, small business owners, artists, and others. Look for more on this series in the coming year. (awarded 8/2019)
MAKE Literary Productions received a grant to help it produce the annual Lit & Luz Festival of Language, Literature and Art. In its 6th year in 2019, Lit & Luz is an ambitious cultural exchange between writers and visual artists from Mexico and Chicago that takes place the third week of October. The 2019 festival included a Live Show at the MCA October 19th (pictured left), a keynote by Luis Alberto Urrea at the Chicago Cultural Center, a talk at the MCA by Mexican author and artist Verónica Gerber Bicecci, and an evening at the Poetry Foundation. (awarded 8/2019)
Chicago Public Art Group received an Illinois Humanities Multiplier grant for the Northwest Portage Walking Museum, which in late 2019 completed its first installation along the trail. On Indigenous People’s Day, October 14, 2019, more than 400 guests gathered in Schiller Woods on Chicago’s northwest side to celebrate the opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Serpent Mound. In 2020, the Coil Mound at Horner Park will be celebrated. Fawn Pochel, the education coordinator at the American Indian Center, is working on the curriculum around both mounds. (awarded 8/2019)
Orpheus Mandolin Orchestra hosted, with Illinois Humanities support, “An Early Gibson Show and Tell: The Central Illinois Roots of Lloyd Loar.” In October, Dr. Jim Stanlaw presented a talk on Loar and the iconic F-5 mandolin at the Classical Mandolin Society of America, hosted this year in Normal, IL. Watch for upcoming programs in early 2020, at the McLean County Museum of History in Bloomington, the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, and in Lewiston, where Loar attended high school. (awarded 8/2019)
The Bronzeville Historical Society hosted an event November 14, 2019 where it unveiled digitized archives from the Jackson and Carter Funeral Home Records. The demonstration, which took place at the Chicago Bee Branch of CPL, brought together a number of community historians to share their various remarkable research projects. To date, BHS founder Sherry Williams has digitized 20% of the extensive archives. (awarded 4/2019)
The Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum, with Illinois Humanities support, is hosting an exhibit on the 1949 St Anthony hospital fire. The Cultural Center has found that interest in the 1949 fire is widespread. Two additional publications about the fire also resulted: “No Way Out,” in the Sept-Oct 2019 issue of Historic Illinois, and “Eight Souls,” in the fall 2019 issue of The Quarterly Journal of the Illinois State Genealogical Society. (awarded 4/2019)
With Illinois Humanities support, River Action carried out its 15th annual Explore the River Series on the 35th Anniversary of the group’s founding. The goal was to carry out 52 lectures, half on ecology and science, and half on art, history, literature, theater and music investigating local culture. It was also to include eight boat tours. Unfortunately, significant flooding ended up delaying 4 weeks of Channel Cat tours. Attendance was up by 100 people overall and one series (the I-74 Tours) sold out in less than 3 weeks. The Illinois Humanities grant helped River Action to offer discounts to new partnering organizations, hence building audience. (awarded 4/2019)
South Side Home Movie Project’s Jacqueline Stewart said that the support from Illinois Humanities helped them to expand their community engagement practices in meaningful ways. With Illinois Humanities support, the project “South Side Sisterhood: As Seen in Home Movies” included a moderated livestream, ASL interpretation, and dance performances by Global Girls. Post-event surveys were overwhelmingly positive and included numerous suggestions for future events (such as doing a West Side series). Partnering with Global Girls also meant that the families of the dancers attended, contributing to the multi-generational audience. Jacqueline has become Turner Classic Movies’ first black host; see this New York Times story. Incidentally, as part of this initiative Audrey Petty of Illinois Humanities and sisters Jill and Miriam were interviewed by Jacqueline on growing up on the South Side at an event at the Arts Incubator! (awarded 12/2018)
Read/Write Library, which Illinois Humanities funded through Envisioning Justice, has an installation at the Edgewater neighborhood historical house and home of experimental art and culture, 6018 North. Illinois Humanities funding was for Read/Write to produce “Incarceration and Information” pop-up libraries featuring content produced by incarcerated people. (awarded 12/2018)
The “Holler If You Hear Me” 20th Anniversary Comic Project received Illinois Humanities support through a grant to fiscal agent Peace and Education Coalition. The book, which first appeared in 1999 to strong critical acclaim, detailed the lives of Back of the Yards students experiencing poverty and trauma and became an impactful book forming part of the professional development of urban teachers nationwide. With an anticipated publication date of December 27, 2019, co-authors Greg Michie and Ryan Alexander-Tanner will be part of public events throughout the early months of 2020. (awarded 4/2019)
CRR19, or the Chicago Race Riot 1919 Commemorative Project, which Illinois Humanities funded as part of “Forgotten Illinois,” has been featured in stories this past month in both The Nation as well as South Side Weekly. This remarkable project aims to create dispersed, city-wide public art to mark the bloodiest incident of racial violence in the city’s history. (awarded 12/2018)
The National Vegetarian Museum’s “Story Map” was unveiled at an event at Native Foods on Belmont in Chicago in November. Funded by Illinois Humanities as part of the “Forgotten Illinois” series, the story map explains the history of Illinois as a leader in the vegetarian movement. (awarded 12/2018)
The Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods in Lake County received an Illinois Humanities grant to assess the impact of its At Ease Veterans program, which empowers military veterans’ wellbeing by connecting them to nature. Brushwood is working with the Lovell Federal Healthcare Center and the Humanities & Liberal Arts Assessment (HULA) project out of Harvard University to design a survey for participants. The At Ease program was featured in recent months on NBC 5, ABC 7, and Fox 32. (awarded 12/2018)
The Elgin group Hamilton Wings produced “My Family, My Community: Connecting Lives” with a grant from Illinois Humanities, posing the question to audience members, “How can (or do) we as families contribute to our collective community story?” Storytelling, dance and music contributed to this engaging activity, which was part of the city’s International Festival. High school students led youth and family members in filling out prompts and also conducted video interviews, which were then edited at Gail Borden Public Library’s Studio 270 Digital Media Lab. This project communicated the value of all families to our community. (awarded 12/2018)
The Western Illinois Museum project, The Garage: An Oral and Visual History of Forgottonia, is off to a solid start: 12 interviews have been conducted with locals who know different aspects of local Macomb history and have experience with the building and with the automobile industry. Interviews have been posted on the museum’s YouTube channel. (awarded 12/2018)
The Greater Waukegan Development Coalition received a “Forgotten Illinois” grant for the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum for “Discover Ray Bradbury: A Drama, Documentary, and Music Experience.” To celebrate the author’s wide fame, a series of events in 2020 will lead up to his birth date, August 22nd. These will include a series of three centennial posters (in English and Spanish), to be distributed to Waukegan schools, local libraries, and throughout the area. The posters and brochures were released at the future Ray Bradbury Experience Museum (RBEM) during HolidayWauk on December 21, 2019 from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. at 13 North Genesee Street in downtown Waukegan. (awarded 12/2018)
Landmarks Illinois (LI) received a Forgotten Illinois grant for the student video project, “People Saving Places: The Underground Railroad in Illinois.” The project included interviews on-site at the Quinn Chapel in Chicago, the Owen Lovejoy Homestead in Princeton and the Sheldon Peck home in Lombard. The video was featured at public events, such as the LI Preservation Snapshots Lecture at the Quinn Chapel, as well as on LI’s Facebook page and Instagram feed. The video has been viewed more than 500 times on LI’s YouTube channel. An interview with the videographer, University of Chicago student Catalina Parra, appears here. (awarded 8/2018)
The Kaskaskia Cahokia Trail Coalition, which received a Forgotten Illinois grant, has produced a wonderful brochure on the trail, in hopes of growing knowledge about and interest in the site. This new 36-page brochure is now being distributed as far north as Springfield, IL, and reaching spots further south such as Missouri Welcome Centers, the Carlyle Lake Visitor Center, Pere Marquette State Park Visitor Center and the Great Rivers Country Tourism Development office. Nearly 28,000 copies were printed! (awarded 4/2018)
Sixty Inches from Center received an Illinois Humanities Multiplier grant for Sixty Regional, an initiative begun in 2016 that connects artists, writers and editors in cities across the Midwest, beginning with Illinois. The project has connected with artist-run spaces in Peoria, Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, and Bloomington-Normal. The Illinois Humanities grant covered editorial work, writer trainings, partner convenings, public programs, and travel costs, among other things. Sixty Regional was able to expand into Carbondale and Charleston, helped generate a number of articles, interviews, and essays in partner cities. Sixty Regional was also able to produce and support several events in sister cities including the Beyond Alternatives Symposium in Urbana-Champaign and a series of film screenings and artist talks in Bloomington-Normal. As a result of this grant a new Central Illinois-based arts publication was launched called “Sight Specific.” (awarded 12/2017)
If you have questions or would like to add your project from an Illinois Humanities grant, please contact Mark Hallett at email@example.com.