Today PA Humanities announced $1.4 million in recovery funds to 92 Pennsylvania organizations. Called PA SHARP (Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan), the initiative provides up to $20,000 in funding to strengthen and grow the humanities across the state. Grantees join the new PA SHARP Learning Network, a statewide learning group that fosters resource sharing, networking, professional development, and mutual support.
“The humanities are on the ground, putting people first, by making spaces for new voices, supporting meaningful learning experiences, and fostering healing and resiliency in communities of all sizes,” said Laurie Zierer, executive director of PA Humanities. “PA SHARP further strengthens this essential work through network building, financial support, and reimagining the possibilities of the humanities across the state.”
PA Humanities assembled a diverse team of 46 cultural professionals who reviewed a total of 337 applications — 41 percent of which were new applicants. The recipients represent museums, historical societies, libraries, and other vital cultural institutions in 30 counties across Pennsylvania. They were carefully selected with an emphasis on equity and geographic diversity. BIPOC-serving organizations represented 24 percent of the total grantees and 23 percent of grants were to recipients in rural counties.
“This PA SHARP grant will allow us to continue providing free programs to in-person and online audiences across Pittsburgh and the state. At a time of isolation and polarization, the humanities have been instrumental in helping communities stay connected and in dialogue,” said Andrés Franco, executive director of City of Asylum.
Applicants to PA SHARP reported losses totaling $176 million, revealing the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector. Funds from PA SHARP will help address this challenge by supporting engaging programming, capacity building, and general operations. In addition to funding, the PA SHARP Learning Network will build a statewide community of people passionate about creating inclusive, engaged communities that are ready to lead the statewide recovery alongside PA Humanities.
“Support from the PA Humanities will enhance our strategic priority to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in our humanities mission. This grant will provide us with the digital tools to ensure our collections and resources represent the communities we serve and provide perspectives from diverse groups and cultures,” said Robert F. Lambert, President of York County Libraries.
PA SHARP is an expansion of PA Humanities’ previous recovery work, beginning when the pandemic first affected business operations. In 2020, PA Humanities rapidly responded by reallocating its program funding for emergency support through Pop-Up Grants for Cultural Producers and then later distributed an additional $780,500 through PHC CARES, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. In finding the most effective ways to meet the emerging and continuing needs of the humanities in Pennsylvania, PA Humanities developed relevant and accessible webinars, educational programs, and learning networks.
Funding for PA SHARP comes from PA Humanities’ federal partner, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Recognizing the financial realities of the pandemic and the vital importance of the humanities to economic and civic life, this legislation allocated to the NEH funds to “prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the coronavirus.”
Additional funding comes from Spring Point Partners to support 16 organizations that serve Philadelphia’s BIPOC and new immigrant communities.