Rhode Island Council for the Humanities hosts its annual Celebration of the Humanities each October to mark National Arts & Humanities Month. The event celebrates the people and projects that make Rhode Island a vital place to live and recognizes the work of extraordinary members of Rhode Island’s public humanities community. Proceeds from the event support culture, history, education, and civic engagement in our state.
The 2019 Celebration of the Humanities will be on Thursday, October 17, 2019 at the Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel. Click here to sponsor this high-profile gathering of the Rhode Island community includes over 300 business, higher education, government, philanthropic, and nonprofit leaders and community members from across the state. The Celebration will feature an open wine and beer bar generously sponsored by Campus Fine Wines and hors d’oeuvres, silent auction, and a speaking program.
The 2019 Celebration theme is IMAGINE. Our world is full of challenges and adversity. But what if we imagine a future that we actually want? Imagine connections between people, culture, and communities. Imagine kindness and empathy. Imagine shared stories and common values that respect difference. Imagine change. The humanities inspire our imagination to chart a positive future.
This year’s honorees include:
Honorary Chairs’ Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities
The White Family, Philanthropic Leaders
The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates career achievements that demonstrate humanities excellence, reflect the Council’s mission and core values, and enrich public life in Rhode Island. The 2019 Award recognizes The White Family, including John, Jr., Liz, and sons John III and Ben, for the sustained and meaningful ways they have supported the civic fabric of Rhode Island for years, carrying on the legacy established by John and Happy White. Through their foundation, The White Family has fostered a culture of philanthropy that puts the humanities at the center, establishing endowments at Brown University’s Taubman Center and the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, as well as a College of Arts and Sciences at Johnson and Wales University, and a Center for Ethics and Public Policy at the University of Rhode Island. They are committed to sponsoring initiatives that provide access to arts and culture including the RI Philharmonic and Providence Performing Arts Center, and also ensure that employees at their family-owned international HVAC business, Taco, have access to continuing educational opportunities at institutions like the Rhode Island School of Design. Their vocal and effective advocacy for the National Endowment for the Humanities in recent years highlights a deep understanding of the direct links between humanities, vibrant economic growth, and innovative development across many sectors.
Tom Roberts Prize for Creative Achievement in the Humanities
Silaphone Nhongvongsouthy, Intercultural Program Developer
The Tom Roberts Prize celebrates creativity in topics, disciplines, and formats that extend the field of the humanities. This year, the Prize honors Silaphone Nhongvongsouthy, a leader of the Laotian Community Center of RI, which promotes cultural identity and heritage. Silaphone has developed programs for youth leadership and traditional Lao art through youth dance programs, instruction in traditional musical instruments, and cross-cultural storytelling. She is an alum of the RI Expansion Arts Program and has built intercultural collaborations with local, national, and global cultural organizations including the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Black Storytellers, the Lao Heritage Foundation, and cultural leaders from Sri Lanka.
Innovation in the Humanities Award
Edible Schoolyard at Green Animals Topiary Garden
Recognizing the innovative implementation of the humanities by an organization to achieve a specific goal, this year’s Award is presented to the Edible Schoolyard at Green Animals Topiary Garden, a historic house and landscape in Portsmouth, RI, managed by the Preservation Society of Newport County. The Edible Schoolyard program teaches healthy nutrition and sustainability using garden activities consistent with Rhode Island Grade Span Expectations. Beginning in 2017 thanks to grant funding from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the Edible Schoolyard program now serves more than 350 Aquidneck Island students annually. The program connects the humanities to food, the garden, and design while utilizing this historic property as a an outdoor classroom, teaching students the links between our environment and our social and cultural lives.
Public Humanities Scholar Award
Joe Wilson, Jr., Educator, Advocate, and Actor
The Scholar Award recognizes outstanding public humanities work in teaching and scholarship that advances the civic and cultural life of Rhode Island. This year, the Award honors Joe Wilson, Jr. for the ways he employs his skills and talents as an actor to advocate for the importance of civic life, education, and amplifying the voices and stories of underrepresented communities in the public sphere. A consummate performer, Joe has performed On Broadway in multiple Tony-nominated shows, Off-Broadway, and in regional theaters around the country while also teaching, lecturing, and writing his own works. He has taught acting, art activism, and lectured at universities, theaters and conferences around the country. Joe’s scholarship has led him to research and write a play about American jazz composer and pianist Billy Strayhorn and to explore in deeply meaningful ways the artist’s role as activist and community advocate. Entering his 15th season as a member of the Resident Acting Company at Trinity Repertory Company, Joe also serves as Trinity’s Coordinator of Activism through Performance, is the Founder of Trinity Rep’s Center for Activism and Performance, and produces the annual community art making collaboration “America Too.” Joe is currently on the Board of Directors of the Southside Cultural Center, the Manton Avenue Project, and the Center for Reconciliation all in Providence, RI.
Sponsorship Opportunities and Tickets
Proceeds of the Celebration of the Humanities benefit public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders. Sponsorships are available for purchase through our secure online platform or by contacting the office. See below for sponsorship details and benefits.
Invitation Inclusion: August 1
Program Inclusion: October 1
For more information about sponsorship and/or program book ads call 401-273-2250 or email email@example.com.
Individual tickets will go on sale in July.