This fall, Illinois Humanities awarded 21 grants across two funding categories, Community Grants and Activate History Microgrants. Grants will support a diverse group of organizations and individuals from literacy and community language programs to documentary projects and historians across the state.
Through the Community Grants program, Vision and Action grants have been made three times annually to support public humanities projects that strengthen community resilience by bringing people together for inquiry and conversation, engaging new audiences, and exploring more interactive programming techniques, such as digital humanities tools.
The latest funding cycle includes 13 grants, totaling $58,400, to support public humanities projects across the state. Among the projects funded is “Exhibit B” from the Guild Literary Complex, a grassroots literary arts organization that creates performance-based events in and around Chicagoland centering on social and restorative justice issues and providing arts and advocacy programming for marginalized voices. Each “Exhibit B” event will bring together a handful of artists to present their work, give a performance, and engage in discussions that connect to the current moment.
“One of the goals of the Guild has always been to support new, up-and-coming artists,” says the Guild’s Executive Director Andrea Change. “This series was planned as live programming but because of the pandemic lockdown, launched virtually. Almost immediately, the program became one incorporating film, visual art, and music, along with poetry and prose work. The pandemic and current economic climate have impacted nonprofits like the Guild due to inflation and increased production and venue costs. Support from Illinois Humanities helps us significantly in covering these additional costs.”
Meet the Grantees
Of the 13 projects, seven feature activity in Chicago, three in Chicago suburbs, and three outside the Chicago area. They include:
- Chicago Poetry Center: Critical Conversations Continuing Practice – Chicago
- Chicago Video Project: “Shame of Chicago” documentary – Evanston
- Evanston Public Library: Grow, Share, Belong: Art & Reading for Adults – Evanston
- Fourth Wall Films: “The Last to Fall from Hero Street” documentary – Moline
- Gilloury Institute DBA Silk Road Rising: Black Teens Lives Matter Discussion Circles – Chicago
- Guild Literary Complex: Exhibit B – Chicago
- International Documentary Association: “Teaching About Religion” documentary – Los Angeles
- MAKE Literary Productions: “2022 Lit & Luz Festival” – Chicago
- People Matter: Community Language Program – Chicago
- Red Line Service: Monthly Lunch & Learn – Chicago
- Serendipity Theatre Company DBA 2nd Story: Every Story Matters: A partnership with the Illinois Prison Project – Chicago
- Springfield Art Association: “Our Footprints, Our Stories” – Springfield
- Waukegan Arts Council: Media is Magic – Waukegan
Now in its sixth grant cycle, Activate History Microgrants of $500 allow groups and individuals with important and diverse local archives or collections to host creative exhibits that engage audiences with their content. Microgrants are accessible to amateur local historians and take a decidedly wide approach to defining what an archive might consist of.
One Activate History project funded in this cycle will support Geneseo Public Library to collaborate with the Geneseo History Museum to explore the role locals played in the Underground Railroad. The program itself will include author Jevoid Simmons, of Evanston, Ill., who wrote and illustrated “Up from Down Home: The Journey North.” The archive and collection featured draw from the many records touching on the Underground Railroad in Geneseo.
Meet the Grantees
Of the eight projects, two are in Cook County and six are based throughout Illinois.
- City of Atlanta: “Wooden Grain Elevators and Their Legacy – A Case Study” – Logan County
- Forest Preserve Friends Foundation: “A History of Healing Virtual Speaker Series” – Champaign County
- Fourtunehouse Creative Company: “Activate History at Fourtunehouse Art Center” – Cook County
- Geneseo Public Library: “The Underground Railroad” – Henry County
- History on Wheels: “From Slavery to Soldier / 29th USCT” – Will County
- Sesser Public Library: “Sesser Valier History Project” – Franklin County
- Springdale Historic Preservation Foundation: “Honoring Notables of Springdale Cemetery” – Peoria County
- Village of Berkeley: “Berkeley Centennial” – Cook County
The Community Grants program is currently accepting applications for its Vision and Action grants categories. The deadline to apply is January 17, 2023. Activate History grants will soon be accepting applications, due on March 1, 2023. For more information, visit: ilhumanities.org/grants or email Mark Hallett, Director of Grants Programs, at email@example.com.