The Wisconsin Humanities Council believes that everyone in the state should have the opportunity to explore the rich histories and diverse cultures that together inform our ideas about the past and shape the future of our communities. With seven deadlines every year, our grant program is accessible. It provides the assistance community leaders need to turn their ideas into home-grown experiences.
Below are eight short summaries of the big ideas that recently received WHC funding! Every year we give away around $200,000 in grants to schools, libraries, museums, churches, historical societies, colleges and civic groups for projects that promote new understanding and that reflect the needs and interests of the community.
Every immigrant to Wisconsin has a unique story. If you aren’t part of that story, or aren’t looking for it, you might miss it.
As immigration remains at the red-hot center of our politically divided nation, we decided at the WHC that we had to use the humanities to help people think about the immigrants among us — especially immigrants from south of the border. Read More
We are so incredibly proud of the way our grant program provides crucial funds to support homegrown efforts in communities large and small around the state. For each WHC grant dollar we award, an average of $4.87* comes to the project as match from the local community. With seven deadlines every year, our grant program is accessible. It provides the assistance community leaders need to turn dreams into reality.
The recent grant awards are stellar examples. These projects bring people together for opportunities to stretch minds, meet new people, and explore ideas about what it means to be human today, in times past, and into the future.
You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, right? The government shutdown is increasingly having that effect, as people in Wisconsin experience what happens when federally-funded programs and services are not available.
It is largely thanks to federal funding that, for 47 years, we’ve made the humanities a living, breathing part of your life and the lives of millions of people throughout Wisconsin.
I’m not considering cancelling grant rounds or programs because of the shutdown. I hope it will be over long before we would take such steps. Instead, today, the shutdown is a forceful reminder of why Americans have long believed that the humanities and the arts should receive federal support.
Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster and support a form of education, and access to the arts and the humanities, designed to make people of all backgrounds and wherever located masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants. –National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 (P.L. 89-209)
That’s what we said as a nation in 1965 when Congress passed the bill that created the National Endowment for the Humanities and its sister for the arts. We agreed then, as a nation, that the health of our democracy depends upon the humanities.
Today we are divided as we were in 1965, and even more threatened by technological change. It takes each of us, and all of us, to make the nation whole. Will you join me in renewing that agreement?
P.S. Please consider affirming your commitment to the humanities in Wisconsin by joining The Legacy Circle or making a recurring gift to the Wisconsin Humanities Council.
Responding to a natural disaster isn’t the WHC’s stock in trade. We are best known for giving grants to organizations that create programs like walking tours, museum exhibits and face-to-face community discussions. But last summer, when I started getting reports about torrential rains causing unprecedented flooding in the southwestern parts of our state, I worried about the organizations in those rural communities. A few phone calls and conversations revealed that libraries in La Valle, Ontario, Norwalk, Rock Springs and Viola all needed help.
The WHC hadn’t worked with any of these libraries before, but in each of these small towns, the library is treasured. In Rock Springs, at word of impending flooding, community members worked furiously to get everything out of the library before the rising water rendered their building unusable. Today, that library is temporarily housed in a church basement. Libraries in Ontario, Norwalk and Viola didn’t suffer quite as badly, but needed to replace lost items and make repairs.
Fortunately, the WHC is an organization poised to help. Generally, we respond to community members who want help bringing their ideas for humanities programs to fruition, and we can provide expertise and funding. In this case, the real need was to keep these little libraries open! What they needed was money for books, shelves, carpets, and other basics.
I was in La Valle, population 367, last week to visit their library. The WHC has provided money to replace items that were damaged when water filled their building, covering the lower three shelves and destroying their entire children’s collection. I was thrilled to learn from Becky and Cindi that the La Valle Public Library, founded in 1903, plans to re-open soon.
Libraries are a critical source of information and of connection to the rest of the state and to the world. Especially in rural communities. I’m so grateful to our donors, whose regular contributions meant that the WHC could instantly offer help when and where it was most needed. Thank you on behalf of Becky and Cindi in La Valle,and all the other librarians and library supporters we are able to help.
Here’s wishing you a joyful holiday season and a new year rich in the humanities!
The Wisconsin Humanities Council administers the only grant program in the state devoted to the public humanities.
This fall our grant awards total more than $100,000. That is money going to school groups, museums, historical societies, colleges, civic and cultural organizations around the state. As we approach our 50th anniversary, we are very proud of the impact our grants have had on our state. We believe that locally-designed, community-based projects represent the power and potential of the humanities. In other words, when people come up with good ideas, and invite others to gather to explore those ideas more deeply, communities grow stronger. Read More
Do you avoid talking about politics with someone in your family, for fear of conflict? Have you clashed with a friend over an issue, and sadly found that more conversation made you both dig into your positions more deeply? Read More
Miguel Hernandez, pictured here, chooses to return to his hometown in Mexico after many years as a loyal and much-needed worker on a dairy farm. Los Lecheros is a short film that reveals the complexity of the current situation and the tension around Wisconsin dairy farms and undocumented workers. Photo credit: Coburn Dukehart/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Since the day he announced his candidacy, the President’s statements on immigration have provoked intense reactions, both for and against. It’s pretty emotional. But how familiar are you – or are most Wisconsinites — with the people the President is talking about? With immigrants living in communities throughout Wisconsin today, or with the laws that govern their lives, the jobs they hold, or the measurable as well as unquantifiable effects their presence has on all of our lives? Read More
This summer the Summit Players are performing Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at 17 state parks around Wisconsin. The free performances include an all-ages educational workshop on Shakespearean history, language and characters. This program, which combines historical insight, audience reflection, and conversation with a theatrical performance has been funded with grants from the Wisconsin Humanities Council two times.
What is the difference between ‘the arts’ and ‘the humanities?’
Here at the Wisconsin Humanities Council, we regularly discuss the different ways to define and understand ‘the humanities.’ We are aware that, as a term, it puts a label on a can of squishy, wriggling worms. Let’s face it, most people don’t find themselves dropping the words ‘the humanities’ in regular chit-chat.
The arts, though. That is a somethings we all can talk about a little more easily. So, how are these two categories distinct, and where do they blend together? As humans with brains wired for creativity, curiosity, and contemplation, can they really be considered as separate pursuits?
To get at these perennial questions, we are republishing one of our most popular blog posts. We think you’ll enjoy it!
Organized by LOTUS Legal Clinic, the ‘Untold Stories’ program has received multiple WHC grants. In an intimate workshop setting, survivors of sexual or domestic violence or human trafficking study literature, poetry, and other expressive writing to begin to put their own experiences into context and develop their skills in testimonial writing. Through a partnership with the Arts@Large program, middle and high school students who are studying gender-based violence create artistic responses to the written work of the ‘Untold Stories’ participants.
For many of us, the arts and the humanities go hand-in-hand. Our experiences in both life and in our work illustrate how the things we call The Arts (like theater, dance, music, and visual art forms) are influenced by, and intertwined with, the the things we call The Humanities (like history, philosophy, literature and folklore). And vice versa.