National Endowment for the Humanities announces $33.17 million in grants

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National Endowment for the Humanities announces $33.17 million in grants
Outside the Tenement Museum in New York, Dec. 15, 2020. The Tenement Museum is receiving $400,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support guided tours exploring the lives of African Americans and Irish immigrants in 19th-century New York City. Karsten Moran/The New York Times.

by Laura Zornosa

NEW YORK, NY.- A book about Motown Productions, the film and television arm of the legendary Motown Records; preservation of the traditional language and lifestyle of Yup’ik and Cup’ik Alaskan Native people; and research on how communities — and insurance companies — in Bermuda understand risk caused by rising sea levels and climate change are among the 245 projects across the country that are receiving new grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The grants, which total $33.17 million, support historic collections, exhibitions and documentaries, humanities infrastructure, scholarly research and curriculum projects.

Among the 13 categories in which the grants were awarded, the most money — $11 million — went toward 23 infrastructure and capacity building challenge grants, which leverage federal funds to spur nonfederal support for cultural institutions.

Included in those were awards to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, to make collections documenting Hawaiian and Pacific history and culture more accessible, and to the First Peoples Fund in Rapid City, South Dakota, to create outdoor classroom spaces for education programs about the Lakota cultural traditions at the Pine Ridge Reservation’s Oglala Lakota Artspace.

Thirty projects in New York state will receive $4.4 million in total funding, with $3.76 million going to 16 groups and individuals in New York City.

In Brooklyn, UnionDocs will get $644,525 for the production of a film about the First Amendment and the balance between free speech principles and other core values. (The project is titled “Speaking Freely: The First Amendment and the Work of Preeminent Attorney Floyd Abrams” and will be directed by Yael Melamede.)

In Long Island City, LaGuardia Community College will see $34,991 to create a liberal arts health humanities option with an interdisciplinary curriculum for undergraduates that focuses on the social, cultural and historical contexts of medical ethics, health and medicine.

And in Manhattan, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum will receive $400,000 to support guided tours exploring the lives of African Americans and Irish immigrants in 19th-century New York City. Women Make Movies, also in Manhattan, will receive $500,000 toward the production of a film that explores the life and work of Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid. The movie, “Jamaica Kincaid: Liberating the Daffodil,” will be directed by Stephanie Black.

This crop of grants is the first round of funding from the agency under Shelly C. Lowe, the first Native American to lead the agency.

“NEH is proud to support these exemplary education, media, preservation, research and infrastructure projects,” Lowe said in a statement. “These 245 projects will expand the horizons of our knowledge of culture and history, lift up humanities organizations working to preserve and tell the stories of local and global communities, and bring high-quality public programs and educational resources directly to the American public.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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