A free humanities course for veterans, a documentary on women fishing commercially in Southern New England, bilingual platicas linking Latinas across generations, and research for a mobile museum of Asian-American and Pacific Islander history are among the 15 projects awarded a Rhode Island Humanities major grant in 2023, the organization’s 50th anniversary.
Ranging from just under $5,000 to $12,000, grants have been awarded to documentary films and public projects that showcase the power of the humanities to connect communities, expand knowledge of our collective past and present, and celebrate the rich cultural diversity in our state. In total, the Council awarded $132,879 in the major grant cycle, with over a quarter of grantees receiving funding from Rhode Island Humanities for the first time. These new grantees include the Anarchestra Foundation, the Armenian Historical Association of Rhode Island (AHARI), the Cultural Society of East Bay, and DESIGNxRI.
“These grant projects will tell Rhode Island’s many stories in compelling ways and ensure that more people learn about the diversity of heritages and experiences that are such strengths for our state. Rhode Island Humanities has contributed to civic vitality for 50 years, and these exciting projects take us into a future that is by and for all Rhode Islanders,” said Elizabeth Francis, Executive Director.
Several projects explore, document, and interpret local cultures and histories that have had a tremendous impact on Rhode Island, including AHARI’s Armenian Chronicles: A Living History, Community Library of Providence’s Quikuchá, Documentary Educational Resources’ Call Us Fisherman, and Rhode Island Latino Arts’ Las Abuelas Cuentan | Our Elders as Storytellers. These films and archives will help to ensure that these community stories will connect and inspire all Rhode Islanders for generations to come.
In keeping with Rhode Island Humanities’ sustained interest in the civic health of the state, several grants were made to projects focused on civic education, including Generation Citizen’s Rhode Island Civic Learning Week, the Manton Avenue Project’s Imagining a Healthier Democracy, and Oasis International’s Oasis Spring Break Youth Program.
Within the slate of wide-ranging and innovative projects, many use highly participatory approaches. For example, the team behind the film Quikuchá takes an iterative, community-centered approach to documentary research and development. As part of the process, the filmmakers will screen portions of the film publicly. Community members will then be invited to contribute their own stories and responses, some of which may later be incorporated into the film.
Read on for a full list of this year’s major grant projects.
2023 MAJOR GRANT AWARDS
Documentary Film and Media Grants
Armenian Historical Association of Rhode Island, $5,000 to Armenian Chronicles: A Living History
Supports the script development of Armenian Chronicles: A Living History, a documentary about Armenian-American history, culture, and immigration through collected oral histories of families in Rhode Island, including the ongoing intergenerational impact of the Armenian genocide.
Center for Independent Documentary, $4,999.10 to Rum, Slavery, and the American Revolution
Supports the script development of Rum, Slavery, and the American Revolution, a 90-minute documentary film exploring Rhode Island’s leading role in the transatlantic rum and slave trade while simultaneously serving as an epicenter for abolitionist activity.
Community Libraries of Providence, $4,961 to Quikuchá
Supports the research, planning, and development of Quikuchá, a 30-minute documentary film exploring stories of (in)migration in human and non-human forms of life in coastal areas of Rhode Island.
Documentary Educational Resources, $5,000 to “Call Us Fishermen,” a documentary film on women in commercial fishing in Southeast New England
Supports the creation of a film treatment and advisory panel for Call Us Fishermen, a feature-length film documenting women fishing commercially in Southern New England and their impact on the economy, culture, and regional identity of the industry.
Public Project Grants
Anarchestra Foundation, $5,245 to Exploding Sound: Lecture and Workshop Series
Supports “Exploding Sound!”, a lecture and workshop series for Pawtucket and Rhode Island K-12 students. The series will explore collaborative music-making through the context of liberatory political theory and the histories of outsider art and experimental music.
Cultural Society of East Bay, $5,000 to Preliminary Research for Museum of Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) History & Culture
Supports the research, planning, and development of a mobile museum and exhibit highlighting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history and culture.
DESIGNxRI, $12,000 to DESIGNxREDEFINE (DxRe)
Supports community conversations, story-capturing, and public installations and exhibits examining design’s definitions and relationships to diverse communities.
FirstWorks, $12,000 to FirstWorks “Hacking the Classics”
Supports humanities-focused community engagement events around Rennie Harris Puremovement’s “Rome & Jewels,” a reimagining of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Events include a roundtable conversation with scholars, a town hall conversation, and K-12 educational workshops.
Generation Citizen, $11,637.50 to Rhode Island Civic Learning Week
Supports Rhode Island Civic Learning Week 2024, a free week-long civic education program including webinars, workshops, and panel discussions for students, educators, policymakers, and leaders in the public and private sector.
Manton Avenue Project, $12,000 to Imagining a Healthier Democracy: Devising Workshops using Legislative and Image Theatre
Supports a series of workshops for elementary and middle school students exploring what makes a healthy democracy. The workshops will include legislative theater, songwriting, and the creation of a mural, and will culminate in a series of public performances and talk backs.
newportFILM, $12,000 to Community Impact Screenings
Supports partnerships with local organizations for four documentary screenings and conversations with audiences reflective of and centered in the films. Potential topics include gender, sexuality, faith, loss, anti-colonialism, and environmentalism.
Oasis International, $10,300 to OASIS SPRING BREAK YOUTH PROGRAM
Supports youth participation in a spring break program that includes field trips and multi-day seminars on culture and American history, governance, and civic duty and responsibility.
Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, $12,000 to Providence Clemente Veterans Initiative
Supports a free humanities course for Rhode Island veterans through the Providence Clemente Veterans Initiative. Classes and topics include philosophy, history, literature, and art history, guided by university professors and veteran facilitators.
Rhode Island Latino Arts, $12,000 to Las Abuelas Cuentan | Our Elders As Storytellers
Supports a bilingual and multigenerational project focusing on storytelling and writings on life experiences, memories, and cultural practices. The project will host bi-weekly pláticas (sharing circles) that include Latina elders and young counterparts, and will result in a living archive of the participants’ lives.
What Cheer Writers Club, $8,736 to “Regenerating and Sustaining” with RI Creatives of Color
Supports the work of the B/I/POC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Advisory Committee and a community-building program series including monthly coffee hours for writers of color; a physical and digital resource binder containing information related to the creative process; and an introductory writing workshop for emerging writers of color.
The Rhode Island Humanities seeds, supports, and strengthens public history, cultural heritage, civic education, and community engagement by and for all Rhode Islanders. As the only dedicated source of funding for public humanities in Rhode Island, we are proud to support museums, libraries, historic sites, schools, preservation and historical societies, community and cultural organizations, individual researchers and documentary filmmakers to bring Rhode Island’s stories to life and to amplify the state’s many diverse voices. A private nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, the Council is supported by federal funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as by individuals, corporations, and foundations. Visit www.rihumanities.org for more information.