Archive for the ‘Humanities Programs in Focus’ Category

Adapting and Thriving: We welcome six new board members

Humanities Programs in Focus | June 30, 2020 | By:

The WHC was created as an independent non-profit in 1972 by a congressional mandate. For the past nearly 50 years, board members offer their individual strengths and collective experience to provide guidance to the organization.

This summer, our tri-annual gathering of board members looked a little different. Instead of coming together in person, friendly faces from all over Wisconsin logged in for a virtual meeting. We welcomed six new members and said farewell to four members who had come to the end of their terms.

A huge Thank You to Mary Knapp, Marie Kohler, Roberta Maguire, and Alex Zacarias for their years of volunteer service and unwavering dedication to our mission to support and create programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin.

Welcome to our new board members!

Inga Cushman lives in Milton, where she is Administrative Services Director for the City of Milton. For over a decade she has worked with the Parks & Recreation Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, and Community Development Authority to help lead the city’s civic and cultural efforts. She was appointed by Governor Evers.

Meralis Hood lives in Milwaukee, where she is Executive Director of Milwaukee City Year and oversees over 100 Americorps volunteers.  She brings expertise in education leadership and in 2019 was included on Madison365’s Wisconsin’s Most Powerful Latino’s List. She was appointed by Governor Evers.

Ann Huntoon lives in Tomahawk and is the retired Executive Director of the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra. She is a dedicated arts and culture advocate and community organizer, as well as a musician, educator, healthcare professional.

Stephen Kercher lives in Neenah and is the Edward H. Rudoy Endowed Professor of History at UW-Oshkosh. He is the director of the Black Thursday Oral History Project, started in 2006, and is a public historian who researches, writes and contributes on subjects of local history, African American history, and Native American history.

Todd Larson lives in Blanchardville, where he owns and manages a family farm. He is a retired Presidential Appointee to the USAID, where he served as Senior Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Coordinator to implement the “International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of LGBT Persons.” He was appointed by Governor Evers.

Jesus Salas lives in Milwaukee and taught for 20 years at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Salas served as a member of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents from 2003-07. As a member of the WHC’s ShopTalk, he shared his personal and academic expertise about the migrant community during the 1960s and 1970s, and the protests, marches, and organizing efforts to secure rights and improve conditions for Latinx in Wisconsin.

What does a WHC board member do?

Wisconsin Humanities Council members work hard.  As volunteers, they review grant proposals three to five times a year. They also attend events around the state serving as ambassadors for the WHC and evaluating our programs. Board members are also critical in helping the WHC make connections and raise money.

We accept nominations. If you know someone who might like to join the WHC board, find out more here.

Board members who have completed their terms rotate off the board, but gratefully they don’t go far: former board members are invited to join our Alumni Circle, an informal group made up of past members.

The Alumni Circle channels their commitment to the Wisconsin Humanities Council into direct action. They put their energy into creating more opportunities for Wisconsinites to have access to the ideas and knowledge sparked through humanities experiences.


Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | June 3, 2020 | By:

From the Director Dena Wortzel


“Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens.” It’s a statement I have pondered and returned to countless times in my years with the Wisconsin Humanities Council, an organization deeply dedicated to work that flows from this belief.

Why wisdom and vision? Because democracy is not a gem that can simply be polished now and then. It is the product of human imagination, only as good and as lasting as our collective ability to create and sustain it.

At this moment in our nation’s history, the ravages of a virus and of the legacy of slavery are bringing us dramatically face to face with the imperfections and fragilities of America’s democratic experiment.

As individuals we can cultivate wisdom and vision, but only as a state and nation can we heal the wounds of history and build a democracy for today, for each and every one of us.  Today, our state ranks as one of worst in the nation when it comes to racial disparities, a fact lived by Wisconsinites of color but not understood by many of their white neighbors.  What wisdom can we draw upon to envision another kind of tomorrow?

As always, and now more than ever, we believe the humanities play a critical role in bringing us to a place where we can deeply experience what is unique in each of us, and makes us human. It is a place where individual voices and lives are lifted up, where our humanity and our dreams of democracy have a chance to grow even in dark times. The staff and board members of the Wisconsin Humanities Council hope that you will join us there. Bring your wisdom, vision, voice and imagination, because there’s work to be done.  In the days, weeks, and months ahead, let’s redouble our efforts.  Let’s do that work together.




Take me to meet Corey on the Love Wisconsin page!

We partnered with Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS) in 2018 to create a series of Beyond the Headlines public conversations in Wausau on the topic of “Building Trust: Law Enforcement, the Media and You.” This week, WIPPS is hosting a conversation with two prominent black leaders in response to current events.

We invite you to join the free Facebook event on Friday, June 5th for a live conversation with two prominent national figures, Reggie Jackson (pictured above, top) and Jarret Adams (pictured above, bottom). Both men will share their compelling stories of being black in America and provide perspectives on the current national situation and the impact of racial disparities and its consequences.

Reggie Jackson is an historian, educator, the co-owner and lead trainer of Nurturing Diversity Partners in Milwaukee, and a former Wisconsin Humanities council member.

Jarrett Adams launched his own law firm in 2017. Adams was wrongly convicted of sexual assault and served 10 years in prison before being vindicated with the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project.

Don’t miss this live stream Friday at noon on the WIPPS Facebook page.

WHERE: Go to: at noon.

HOW: You can post comments and questions for the guests during the event, or email questions in advance at


Wisconsin’s Cultural Organizations Lead the Way

Humanities Programs in Focus | May 13, 2020 | By:

REMINDER: Applications for our first round of Wisconsin Humanities CARES Relief Grants are due this Friday, May 15th at 4:30 PM. Stay tuned for information about the next deadline coming up this summer.

We are so impressed by the ways people around the state are stepping forward to meet today’s challenges. Maria Parrott-Ryan, the producer of Love Wisconsin, recently reached out to the executive director of the Neenah Historical Society to ask for her perspective during this extraordinary time. The Neenah Historical Society has received grants for many of their amazing public programs from the Wisconsin Humanities Council.

We found Jane’s optimism and ideas so inspiring we couldn’t wait to share her thoughts with you. Be sure to follow Love Wisconsin on Facebook to meet more extraordinary people from all over our great state.

“My family has roots in Neenah that go back to the mid-1800s. I was born and raised here, as was my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother. My brother has always been the family historian, and he had written a book and came to town to do a presentation on it for the Neenah Historical Society. He said, ‘Why aren’t you involved in the Historical Society?’ because I’m the only one of our seven siblings who still live in Neenah.

I was too busy with raising kids, and I just hadn’t gotten involved with it yet. But now I’ve made up for it. I started as a volunteer, then I was on the board, and I’ve been the executive director for the past eight years.

What we strive to do is bring our history to life for the community. We try to tell inspiring and interesting stories that help people get a better perspective on today by looking at the past.

Right now, our exhibits are closed, and we had to cancel the history camp that we do for kids in the community. It’s heartbreaking, because those face-to-face opportunities with visitors and students—you can’t duplicate that with a virtual experience.

We will try to make a short video of the current exhibit, which we’re so proud of. It’s so timely: it’s all about the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. All of that has just disappeared, as far as what’s on people’s radar. They’re not thinking about it or celebrating it, which is a shame. We’re excited about our next exhibit, too, which is about the positive impact of immigration in our community. But now we’re trying to decide—do we make it virtual or not?

We try to have a very active Facebook page, and I love that it really demonstrates how much the community craves connection. They crave connection to the past, to the stories of the community, and to each other. We shared a story recently about the history of the rocket ship slide that used to be here at Riverside Park. That story reached almost 33,000 people. That’s more than the population of our city! That’s pretty cool. People really do crave connection to their community, so I love that we can use social media to do that.

It’s very important for us as cultural organizations to help our communities move forward from this pandemic. It’s great and wonderful and essential, obviously, for people to get back to work and be in the workplace. But organizations like ours provide something else. A community is not a good, strong, vibrant community without cultural institutions.

We always have been focused on the inspirational stories of our community, but I think it’ll be even more important moving forward. We have to be optimistic. How we can inspire people to be unafraid, and to know that we will get past this, and that we will learn from it? Maybe we’ll have a better perspective on how much our community means to us and how we can be better members of our community by helping each other and supporting each other.”

-Jane Lang, Executive Director, Neenah Historical Society

Wisconsin Humanities CARES Act Relief Grants

Humanities Programs in Focus | April 17, 2020 | By:

UPDATED 4/24/2020:

We’re thrilled that Congress has provided CARES Act emergency funding for the humanities.

Click here to find eligibility and application information.

POSTED 4/17/2020:

The Wisconsin Humanities Council will be providing rapid-response funding to non-profit humanities and cultural organizations that are facing financial hardship resulting from COVID-19. These grants are funded by the federal CARES Act via the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Deadlines and application process

The application will be available next week. We will share information on the Wisconsin Humanities Council website, on Facebook, and in our E-Newsletter.

  • The first deadline is 4:30pm on May 15 with additional deadlines to follow.
  • Applications will be reviewed and decisions announced via email within 15 days of the application deadline.
  • In the interest of speed, WHC staff are not able to review drafts of Wisconsin Humanities CARES applications.  Questions about the application may be directed to Meg Turville-Heitz.

Things to know NOW about CARES Act Relief Grants in Wisconsin 

• Grants of up to $10,000 will be available to non-profit organizations across Wisconsin that provide humanities programming as a significant part of their mission and that are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
• Grants are available for general operating expenses only. These include expenses such as salaries, rent, utilities, supplies, and equipment. (Organizations seeking humanities program support should apply for a WHC Mini or Major grant.
• No matching funds are required.


To be eligible for Wisconsin Humanities CARES Relief Grants, an organization must:

  • Provide humanities programming to the general public as a significant part of its mission (see humanities defined here)
  • Have been in continuous operation for at least two years as a tax exempt 501(c)3 organization as certified by the Internal Revenue Service. Check IRS status here.
  • Be physically located in Wisconsin and have Wisconsin residents as its primary audience
  • Have at least one staff member (full or part-time) who is a paid employee of the organization
  • Have total annual expenses of not more than $500,000 in the most recent fiscal year OR have no more than $500,000 as the average of the past three completed fiscal years. (Expenses include all operating, overhead and programmatic expenses for the organization.)
  • Be experiencing financial hardship due to the effects of COVID-19. (Hardship includes, but is not limited to reduction, loss or furlough of paid staff or significant loss of revenue.)

Not eligible for funding:

  • Individuals
  • For-profit organizations
  • Organizations with annual budgets of more than $500,000 (organizations with larger budgets may be eligible for funding directly from the National Endowment for the Humanities)
  • Organizations solely focused on the arts
  • Political or advocacy organizations
  • Government agencies (foundations and friends groups associates with libraries and museums ARE eligible for funding)
  • Universities, colleges, or academic departments
  • K-12 institutions

Funding priorities:

  • Support cultural organizations that provide humanities programming and that are facing hardship due to closures and economic impacts related to COVID-19
  • Assist organizations in all regions of Wisconsin

Other requirements to be aware of as you prepare to apply:

  • As required by federal guidelines, applicants must have a DUNS number in order to receive funds. A DUNS number can take up to two business days to receive. For instructions on acquiring a DUNS number immediately via telephone please see information here. You may also acquire a DUNS number from the DUNS Request Service website.
  • Applicants must upload a SIGNED W-9 form at the time that your application is submitted.




CARES Act and Books that Open Up Worlds

Humanities Programs in Focus | April 3, 2020 | By:

From the Director Dena Wortzel

In these tough times, I’m happy to share some hopeful news. Financial help is coming for nonprofits who work in the humanities! Last week we learned that $75 million is set aside for the National Endowment for the Humanities, of the roughly $2 trillion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the “CARES Act.” Some of these NEH funds will be distributed to state humanities councils like the WHC, to help us respond in our states. We are so grateful to our legislators for understanding the vital role that our cultural organizations play in lifting us up as individuals, and in sustaining our communities.

As I write, we don’t know when we will receive these emergency funds or how much we will receive. And while we are hopeful, the news from organizations around the state about the impact of the virus is sobering. No amount that we receive will meet the need among all the nonprofits who bring the humanities to communities throughout Wisconsin.

I can tell you this about whatever emergency funding we receive:

  • No CARES funds will be used for WHC overhead. 100% will directly serve communities throughout Wisconsin.
  • No grants that we award with CARES funds will require matching funds from grant recipients.

Once we have CARES funds in hand, we will work as fast as possible to start making grants to eligible nonprofit organizations.

So please subscribe to our ENewsletter to get future emails from me and check Facebook regularly. We will make a general announcement as soon as we have funds available and a process in place with clear information on eligibility, funding criteria, and as simple an application process as we can manage given federal requirements.  In the meantime, we will do our best to answer questions but please refer to the website before contacting us if your question is about CARES or other grants.  The website will always have the most current information on funding opportunities.

Be well, and thank you for being with us in these truly difficult times.





P.S.  I’ll be in touch over the coming weeks, but don’t hesitate to contact me via email anytime. Meanwhile, all administrative processes related to our regular grant program are continuing normally.


It is books that are the key to the wide world; if you can’t do anything else, read all that you can. — Jane Hamilton

Many of us are wondering what we can do…to keep sane, keep ourselves entertained, and keep engaged with the wide world right now. When in doubt, we say, pick up a book.

So we asked for some recommendations. Here are three+ that we hope will point a new direction in your literary explorations!

Thanks to Maria Parrot-Ryan, Roberta Maguire, and Joe Salmons for sharing. Please be in touch if you have a book recommendation to share!


Grant Deadline Change!

Humanities Programs in Focus | March 27, 2020 | By:

From the Director Dena Wortzel

There was a moment today when I felt unstuck from time. I couldn’t remember when it was that I headed for home with no idea when I would be back in my office again. You probably have your own version of such a moment. I wish that momentary disorientation were all that anyone had to contend with right now.

As we focus on the need today, at the WHC we’re seeking ways to bring additional assistance to you, and to everyone we can possibly reach.

To help major grant applicants, we have extended the upcoming deadline to April 24 and reduced our request for paper copies. There are also changes to May 1 mini grant submissions. So if you are applying at either of these deadlines, please read these important instructions.

And if you’d like to be part of using the humanities to help in these hard times, I have an invitation for you. Think about a book that changed your life, and answer any of these prompts:

  • Book Title:
  • Author:
  • Tell us a little about what was going on in your life when you read the book.
  • Were there messages or characters or scenes in the book that really moved you?
  • Did this book somehow change you? Impact your choices? Influence the way you see things?
  • What made this book different for you?
  • Why would you recommend that others read this book?

I’d love to hear from you, and I might ask you whether I can share your thoughts with our humanities community.

Be well. Stay in touch. Find comfort in the connections we are sustaining with one another. And be sure to read the Love Wisconsin story next week—we promise it will make you smile!




Faith, HOPE, and Love.

An essay shared by Jan Larson, WHC board member and chair of the Department of Journalism and Communication at UW-Eau Claire.

Today is my birthday. I could joke and claim the whole of Wisconsin shut down in celebration. Dancing in the streets to follow. But that wouldn’t be true. #SaferatHome.

Instead, I’ll tell you that I woke with a singular word rolling around in my head: Hope. I’ve been thinking about that word a lot lately. I even looked it up. To be sure. To remind myself. So I could hold its meaning in the close of my hand.

Hope — Expectation.

Hope did not come at my bidding. A friend and colleague had placed it like a farmer planting a seed. The head of a local writing group (and much more), he challenged his neighbors to use this time of unexpected slowness to share stories of hope. He did it to encourage community. He’s like that.

As I lay in bed unwilling to acknowledge the white gray sky and the dirt-flecked snow of March receding into the pine trees that line our property, I glanced up and smiled. Above our bedroom closet, I had as a young mother stenciled three clusters of pansies in shades of blue, yellow, violet and red – one bouquet for each of the three children I didn’t know we’d have but for whom we hoped. The stenciled art was an attempt to remind me of the spring that would follow the long Wisconsin winters. I don’t often remember they are there, but today, they greeted me with the promise of spring.

These delicate flowers made me hope for more than the blooms that spring invariably brings. I hope for, I expect, a time when the distance will fade and the virtual hugs we send our now young adult children will be replaced with open arms and heads nestled close to our hearts.

Hope. It’s a word that works well with others. I can’t think of hope without bumping into Faith. And, Love.

Like the ivy that twists its way through the pansies on my wall these words are linked. They are my heritage. The legacy from my pastor father who spent his adult life tramping through cotton fields among migrant farmworkers and later city barrios to proclaim hope.

My mother, an equal partner, his confidante and counselor had a depth of faith that sustained her in her middle years and beyond when she struggled with illness that threatened and sometimes succeeded in severing her hold on reality.

Faith: Complete trust or confidence

After my parents died in a car accident some years ago, one of my siblings sent me the Bibles they had carried with them. My mother’s constant companion sat by my nightstand for more than a year before I could bring myself to open it. When I unzipped the fabric cover, bits of twig and leaves – remnants of the crash that had somehow worked their way into cracks and crevices — fell from its pages.

The inside front covers bore her beautiful, precise handwriting and a long list of favored verses — verses of faith, hope and love. Verses that she shared with me as a child when others ridiculed and rejected me. As I re-read them, I was reminded of the hope, of the expectation, that someday, there would be love.

Love…well, we recognize it when see it.

I found that love in the eyes of man who has been my partner, confidante, counselor and friend for more than 30 years. His love is more than a feeling. It is a choice, a daily act on his part to be that person who loves me unconditionally.

As I face the final year of my fifth decade, a time of great uncertainty for the entire planet, I am able to draw on a lifetime of Faith…certain belief. Hope…expectation. And love…the greatest of these.

Together, they will allow me to weather the storm that has engulfed us all.

I hope the same for you.



Announcing Winter Grant Awards!

Humanities Programs in Focus | March 4, 2020 | By:

Winter Grant Awards 2020

We are excited to share the following list of Grant Awards totaling $86,894!

These grants support a range of projects that offer educational, cultural and civic opportunities for Wisconsinites around the state. 

We hope that reading about them will give you a little taste of the big ideas coming from communities of all sizes.

We also hope you’ll be inspired! Consider attending an event, applying for a grant, or contacting us to discuss your own communities’ needs!

The Wisconsin Humanities Council couldn’t fund these projects without support from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the State of Wisconsin, and private donors. This money invested in our state multiplies locally! Learn more…

Grant applications are reviewed by our board members, a group of people who represent the breadth of the humanities and the diversity of our state. In February, board members met in Madison to make funding decisions about Major Grants. We are excited to share the following list of Grant Awards totaling $86,894!


Wisconsin Humanities Council Grant Awards MapCongratulations to the following 15 organizations recently awarded Major Grants and Mini Grants in Brown, Chippewa, Clark, Dane, Douglas, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, St. Croix, Vernon, and Washington Counties:

$2,000 to City of New Richmond   |  “Stories of Service” Veterans Oral History Project

The goal of this project is to open intergenerational discussion about our country’s conflicts and those who served their country and return to civilian life. The city will install interpretive trail signage along a walking trail in a city park, featuring photos and interview excerpts from local veterans. Local volunteers will be trained in oral history collection as part of the project.

$2,000 to Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (Appleton)  Middle Eastern Cultural Programming and Festival in the Fox Valley

This program will use the production of “The Band’s Visit,” which explores music and cultures in Egypt and Israel, as an opportunity to gain understanding about Middle Eastern cultures with community book discussions, talks and the showing of a documentary. This organization is new to WHC grants and we look forward to working with them! This project meets our focus on race and ethnicity.

$1,952 to Luxembourg Cultural Society and Center   Votes for Women! 2020 Cultural Conference|

This project aims to place the suffrage movement in Wisconsin in the context with what was happening at the same time in Europe. This organization is new to WHC grants and we look forward to working with them!

$2,000 to UW-Superior Refugees in Wisconsin: A Community Conversation

Our former ShopTalk speaker Khalil “Haji” Dokhanchi has expanded his discussion of refuges with a program that will engage with K-12 teachers. This program will engage several communities across the state in a discussion of the legal definition of refugees and migrants and their experiences, offer an interactive exhibit, and introduce teachers to children’s books by and about refugees and migrants.

$2,000 to La Crosse Public Library  2020 Regional Community Read of “Waking Up White”

This regional reading program creates venues for this predominantly white community to explore the origins of biases and gain awareness and empathy for the lived experiences of Americans of different backgrounds. The project builds on ongoing community work on issues of racism. This project meets our focus on race and ethnicity.

$2,000 to Mount Horeb Area Historical Society    |   3rd Annual Native Art Marketplace

Funds will be used to expand and enhance the museum’s annual Native Art Marketplace in collaboration with Little Eagle Arts Foundation to celebrate and showcase the art and culture of Wisconsin’s indigenous peoples. This project meets our focus on race and ethnicity.

$862 to UW-Eau Claire Ruth Foster Gallery   |  What’s Sex (Gender, Race, Place, Love) Got to Do with It?

A panel and Q&A as part of the Midwest Queertivities exhibit of visual and written artworks at the Ruth Foster Gallery at UW-Eau Claire will help participants explore the ways that a Midwestern regional affiliation intersects with affective identities.

$6,720 to Norskedalen   (Coon Valley) Moving History

This project will build an audio-based oral history that visitors can tune into to hear the story of the physical moving of the many historic buildings and the people who moved them: where they came from, how the buildings were de-assembled, transported, reassembled, and all the challenges and obstacles that were faced in this process.

$10,000 to Chippewa Valley Museum (Eau Claire)   Music of the North 

Eau Claire has laid claim to the identity of “Music City.” Working with community partners, the Chippewa Valley Museum will produce “Music of the North,” a 15-minute Object Theater show in its Farmhouse Theater that explores music in everyday life. This project will provide a deeper, more inclusive history of local music and help student and local resident audiences make connections between music heritage, local history, regional identity, and each other.

$10,000 UntitledTown    UntitledTown Book and Author Festival 2020

WHC has funded this festival since its inception. Now entering its fourth year, it has become an annual event for Green Bay that promotes storytelling and book culture. In 2020 the festival theme of Community will bring core questions in the humanities to an even wider audience in Northeastern Wisconsin through community partnerships and intentionally impactful programming.

$10,000 Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Memorial Project (The Highground, Neillsville)  “We Were There-Korea” 

WHC is proud to again support a Highground traveling exhibit that collects the personal pictures, stories, and experiences of veterans. This time the focus is Korea. The exhibit will include era-specific uniforms and memorabilia, music, and, eventually, personal veteran interviews on DVDs.

$10,000 to Summit Player’s Theatre (Milwaukee)   |   Shakespeare in the State Parks – “The Winter’s Tale”

We’ve been proud to support this non-profit traveling theater company, which produces free workshops and performances in the Wisconsin State Parks. This season will include newly updated curriculum that relates the plot and characters of the play to its outdoor setting and the works of Shakespeare as a whole. Workshops take place prior to each performance free of charge for park patrons 25 times in 24 state parks and state forests around Wisconsin between June 13 and August 23, 2020.

$10,000 Neighborhood House of Milwaukee    Nature of Culture: Come Grow with Us!

This project is a dynamic initiative for low income Milwaukee youth focused on historical and artistic exploration of culture in Milwaukee from 1945-2020. The project will engage children in activities that examine arts and culture over time, how people have used the arts to express positive and challenging aspects of community, and how cultures influence artistic expression. Children learn about key visual art styles such as abstract art, graffiti and pop art, as well as musical genres like jazz, blues and Latin music, and popular dance forms like the cakewalk, tap and hip hop.

$8,000 to Milwaukee Public Library Foundation   |   Recalling Milwaukee’s Socialist History

With the Democratic National Convention (DNC) convention in Milwaukee in 2020, interest has increased in Milwaukee’s unique local history as the largest city governed for four decades, and well into the twentieth century, by three mayors identified as socialists. Utilizing the library’s vast archive collection for its Socialist mayors, the library will design, create and facilitate a multi-media exhibit. This organization is new to WHC grants and we look forward to working with them!

$9,360 Museum of Wisconsin Art (West Bend)   |   “Wisconsin Funnies: Fifty Years of Comics” Exhibition, Programs and Catalog

This exhibition includes hand-drawn comic originals, spanning the late 1960s to the present, representing sixteen artists. The exhibition will be hosted in two locations: MOWA’s West Bend home and MOWA/DTN, the new outpost located in Saint Kate the Arts Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Because the exhibition will coincide with the Democratic National Convention, the MOWA/DTN component will focus on the relationship between comics and politics. The West Bend component will explore the legacy of Kitchen Sink Press — Wisconsin’s most significant comics publisher.

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New Humanities Voices: Introducing Jodi and Cris

Humanities Programs in Focus | January 23, 2020 | By:

Jodi and Cris love words. We are lucky to start off 2020 with each of them bringing more poetry, connection and exploration to our work around Wisconsin!

Poetry Matters

Welcome Jodi! Jodi Vander Molen is passionate about poetry and using the power of language to give us reason to laugh, hope, and connect. She grew up on a small farm, performs at open mics, has a weekly haiku habit, and is the WHC’s new representative on the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission! We are one of six organizations that supports the Poet Laureate in acting as a statewide emissary for poetry and creativity.


¡Mi travesía hasta Wisconsin! 

Welcome Cris! Cris has been part of the Wisconsin Languages Project at UW-Madison, where he documents stories from Heritage Spanish speakers around the state. Originally from Puerto Rico, we are thrilled to have him here, helping to expand the reach of our Immigrant Journeys from South of the Border: ¡Mi travesía hasta Wisconsin! exhibit. Coming soon: A statewide tour of the exhibit!


Grant Program: Contact us if you have any questions! 

This is what the humanities look like

Humanities Programs in Focus | December 18, 2019 | By:

Share your photography skills to help us tell the story of the Wisconsin Humanities Council!

*Deadline has passed


The Wisconsin Humanities Council is seeking photographers who specialize in event and portrait photography. Professional photographers living in every region of Wisconsin are invited to apply.

Selected photographers will become part of our roster and may be hired to photograph events and people for WHC print and digital publications and marketing. Photographers will be hired on a job-by-job basis.


  • Professional photographers from every region of the state are encouraged to apply.
  • Hourly rates of $150-$250 will be agreed upon depending on the job. Travel costs may be compensated depending on the job. Editing expectations will be discussed depending on the job.
  • Photographers who are selected to be included on the roster will be asked to file W-9 forms to facilitate payment.
  • Work done for the WHC will become WHC property and the WHC will assume rights to publish in print and digital medium with photographer credit given on the WHC website. (Photographers maintain rights to use their photos to promote their own work).

The Humanity in Each of Us

The WHC’s mission is to use history, culture and conversation to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin. Our story is made up of your stories. We are committed to working with and representing the diverse populations of our state. 


Contact Jessica Becker at 608-263-3155 or via email with questions.

Announcing Fall Grant Awards!

Humanities Programs in Focus, Tips for Grant Writers | October 30, 2019 | By:

We are excited to share the following list of Grant Awards totaling $42,700!

The Wisconsin Humanities Council administers the only grant program in the state devoted to the public humanities. Every year, we give away $200,000 in grants to organizations that provide original programs for people all over the state. Our grant program is open seven times a year, with two categories of grants (smaller and larger grants), so we can respond directly to the people who know the needs of their community.

Grant applications are reviewed by our board members, a group of people who represent the breadth of the humanities and the diversity of our state. This October, board members met in Madison to make funding decisions about Major Grants. We are excited to share the following list of Grant Awards totaling $42,700!

The Wisconsin Humanities Council couldn’t fund these projects without support from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the State of Wisconsin, and private donors. This money invested in our state multiplies locally! Learn more…

WHC board meeting October 2019

Board members meet three times a year in person to review Major Grant Applications. Pictured here are board members at the Pyle Center on UW-Madison campus. CENTER: WHC Director Dena Wortzel and WHC Board Chair Arnold Chevalier.


Congratulations to the following 8 organizations recently awarded Major Grants and Mini Grants in Brown, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Dane, Door and Marathon Counties:

$2,000 to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Educational Foundation (Green Bay) | Kao Kalia Yang Presentation

WHC funds will help the college bring Hmong author Kao Kalia Yang to the Green Bay campus to provide a community lecture and workshop open to staff, students, and the community. Yang is the author of “The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir” and “The Song Poet.” Her works speaks to the refugee and immigrant experiences and she will address issues of literacy and education, as well as race and class of the Hmong people.  This project is part of our focus on race and ethnicity.

$2,000 to UWM Waukesha Foundation |  Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books

We’re pleased to again support the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, a free community celebration of literacy and arts. The 2019 theme is Opening Doors: A Decade of the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books.

$2,000 to Crossroads at Big Creek (Sturgeon Bay) | The Big Dig at Crossroads, Fall 2019 

The Big Dig is an authentic archaeological experience for middle school students of Door County. Funds from the grant enable students to have an archaeological experience that include shovel testing, unit excavation, a flintknapping demonstration, flotation machine use, and the cleaning and classification of artifacts.

$2,000 to Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation | Talking Spirits XXI: Forest Hill Cemetery Tour

This popular award-winning living history program illuminates the lives of many prominent and lesser-known figures in Wisconsin history. This year’s theme, “Service Beyond the War,” featured five theatrical performances by actors portraying people with a range of perspectives on both the Civil War and the growth of Wisconsin afterward.

$10,000 to UW-Milwaukee | The Gun Violence Project: Narratives of Violence in Milwaukee 

We’re proud to help fund an important collaborative effort to map the human experiences of gun violence in Wisconsin, beginning with the Milwaukee area. Using a digital platform, this evolving resource will share the audio stories, images, and interactive maps to help engage the community understanding the realities of gun violence at its aftermath.

$5,525 to First Stage Milwaukee | Courage in Storytelling: Workshops inspired by regional premiere GRETEL! 

We’re pleased to again support First Stage’s Foundry Stage Series production and workshops. The musical theater production reinterprets and combines the folktales of “Vasilisa the Beautiful” and “Hansel and Gretel,” relating how a girl overcomes life’s obstacles with courage, perseverance, determination and kindness. The reach of this project includes extended programming for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.

$9,175 to Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS) | Conversations About Immigration in Marathon County 

WHC funds support a three-part series designed to lay out facts, bust myths, provide local perspective and make space for conversations on how the issue of immigration affects central Wisconsin communities. This project is part of our focus on race and ethnicity.

$10,000 to Music Theatre of Madison | INDECENT: A Tony-winning play with extensive significance 

We’re pleased to support this ambitious presentation of “Indecent,” a play the explores themes of anti-semitism, censorship, sexuality, and love of art. In association with this production, MTM will work in collaboration with numerous community partners to provide supporting educational materials.