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Office of Public Art (OPA) in Pittsburgh was one of 47 statewide grantees for Pop-Up Grants for Cultural Producers. PHC created the program to provide rapid relief to cultural organizations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The funds supported arts organizations, museums, historical societies, and libraries as they began to shift their events and activities to online platforms. OPA engages with Pittsburgh-area artists in shaping the public realm and encouraging community-led change. Prior to the pandemic, all of their programming was in-person, which included walking tours, artist workshops, artist talks, and collaborating with other organizations. To foster connections and fill the void created by social distancing measures, OPA looked to social media for inspiration. After Dinner Conversations, supported by PHC’s Pop-Up Grants for Cultural Producers, connected residents from the Pittsburgh region to local and national dialogues about the role of cultural producers during the time of COVID-19 and beyond. The program involved a series of Instagram Live streams presented between July and October. Each session invited a cultural producer from Pittsburgh to engage in a half-hour long conversation with a peer of their choosing. Participants included: Sheila Cuellar-Shaffer and Madeline Gent Kilolo Luckett and Jessica Lynne D.S. Kinsel and Vatic Kuumba Njaimeh Njie and Hourglass Bekezela Mguni and Mi'Jan Celie Tho-Biaz The result was meaningful, relevant dialogue touching upon creative inspiration, working during the pandemic, and the impact that their relationship to one another has had on their work and lives. "This project increased OPA’s Instagram audience engagement, not only during the live sessions, but also in the post-session viewership,” said Rachel Klipa, Program Manager at OPA. “The Pop-Up grant assisted OPA with experimenting and developing a new online program during the pandemic and we are now considering incorporating After Dinner Conversations into our regular public programming.” At a time of social distancing, dynamic and engaging virtual programming and events by cultural organizations like OPA bring Pennsylvanians together to celebrate heritage and identity, build community and joy, create new virtual platforms, leverage assets like nature and place, and document our human stories. Learn more about OPA and how you can support their work at: opapgh.org. The Pop-Up Grants for Cultural Producers program is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, individual donors to PHC, and an anonymous donor who offered additional funds for Philadelphia-based projects serving artists and small arts organizations.
The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) was one of 47 statewide grantees for Pop-Up Grants for Cultural Producers. PHC created the program to provide rapid relief to cultural organizations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The funds supported arts organizations, museums, historical societies, and libraries as they began to shift their events and activities to online platforms. AAMP is the first institution built by a major United States city to house and interpret the life and work of African Americans. PHC’s Pop-Up Grants for Cultural Producers supported their collaboration with The Escape Artist Initiative to create Parable of Coronas, a zine inspired by Parable of the Sower, the prophetic novel by Octavia E. Butler. Escape Artist Mixtape zines explore the art of survival through myth, media and music, D.I.Y and pop culture, afrofuturism and speculative fiction. Parable of Coronas included micro-interviews and an interactive playlist with contributions from local and national escape artists and radical visionaries of change. The free live zine release event was held on August 7th, hosted by lead artist and founder of the Escape Artist Initiative, Li Sumpter. At a time of social distancing, dynamic and engaging virtual programming and events by cultural organizations like AAMP bring Pennsylvanians together to celebrate heritage and identity, build community and joy, create new virtual platforms, leverage assets like nature and place, and document our human stories. Learn more about The African American Museum in Philadelphia and how you can support their work at: aampmuseum.org. The Pop-Up Grants for Cultural Producers program is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, individual donors to PHC, and an anonymous donor who offered additional funds for Philadelphia-based projects serving artists and small arts organizations.
As the national spotlight shined on Pennsylvania during the presidential election, young people at Sayre Public Library’s new Teen Reading Lounge used their virtual meetings as a space to make sense of the divisiveness they were seeing on the news and in social media. Teen Reading Lounge is an award-winning, nontraditional book club created by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. With the support of trained facilitators, participants co-create a reading list and participate in conversations and civic engagement projects that connect to themes in their books. The teens at Sayre centered their dialogues on books related to the election process, including The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert and The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson. During this polarized time, it can sometimes be difficult for young people to speak up and be heard, but Teen Reading Lounge cultivates an environment where they feel safe to share their ideas and opinions. “We all really enjoyed discussing The State of Us,” said Linda Zhang, a teen participant in the group. “It illustrates how a lot of us are feeling... We don’t have much longer until we vote ourselves.” Emma White, a ninth grader, appreciated learning more about the election process. “It's really important to discuss why your vote matters, and how you should educate yourself on each of the candidates,” she said. The program is co-facilitated by Heather Manchester, director of Sayre Public Library, and Kayla Eberth, a local healthcare worker. They emphasized that they get as much out of the program as the teens do -- and their conversations and fun creative projects make them more optimistic about the future. "It's great to talk to the generation that's coming up,” said Manchester. “They might be the ones to actually do something to take action to change things. That makes me feel good about the world." “It gives me hope,” agreed Eberth. At a time of social distancing, Teen Reading Lounge has been a lifeline for young people eager for more social interaction and provides a unique opportunity for engaging conversations about issues that are important to them. “I’ve gotten to meet new people,” said Zhang. “I don't really get to have these discussions with my friends or family, so it's really nice to have a chance to do it.” *** Teen Reading Lounge at Sayre Public Library meets biweekly on Mondays at 5PM. Contact TRLSayre@Gmail.com for more information. Teen Reading Lounge is made possible by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services administered by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, Department of Education, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, generous individuals, foundations, and corporations.
The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) invites communities in the Erie Arts & Culture and PA Route 6 Alliance service areas to apply to become a PA Heart & Soul Community. Selected communities will receive up to $25,000 over a two year period from PHC. Selected communities may also be eligible for a $25,000 matching grant from our funding partners at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). (Note: requesting funding from DCED requires a separate application process which must be submitted by the local municipality.) In addition, selected communities will be matched with a Heart & Soul Coach who will deliver training and provide technical assistance valued at over $50,000 per year. Community Heart & Soul® Community Heart & Soul® is a humanities-based, resident-driven community planning process that cultivates a shared sense of belonging among residents, engages them in thinking critically and creatively about community life and involves them in decision-making and development - all as a way to strengthen a town’s social, cultural and economic vibrancy. PHC believes people can shape the future of their communities through the power of stories and strong relationships. Key to the process is learning what matters most by gathering hopes and ideas from residents. Story gathering can take many forms, from notes on a chalkboard to in-depth interviews. It all comes together to paint a picture of what matters most to residents. This becomes the basis for building a community’s shared desires, which informs a community’s unique action plan. As a result, communities become more connected, resourceful and resilient. Eligibility Requirements This opportunity is only open to counties in the Erie Arts & Culture and PA Route 6 Alliance network. Eligible counties include: Crawford, Erie, Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Wayne, Pike, Venango, Mercer, and Lawrence. This opportunity is for small towns with populations of 50,000 or under. We are inviting proposals from communities that want to enhance planning and development efforts using the humanities-based Community Heart & Soul® process. Attending or watching at least one of the following Community Heart & Soul® informational webinars is required: October 6th (Meadville partners) and October 8th (Williamsport partners). PHC will support projects at municipal scale, meaning that applicants must demonstrate commitment from a municipality (city, township or borough) and at least two local partners. PHC can only accept one application per municipality. Either a municipality or non-profit partner must be prepared to act as the fiscal sponsor of grant funds. Local partners will vary widely depending on the community and could include (but are not limited to): local nonprofits, economic development or planning agencies, grassroots community groups, arts and culture organizations, and school districts. Partners must be committed to providing robust resources (human, financial) to the process over a two-year period and demonstrate the capacity to work collaboratively. Important Dates: Applications due: November 18, 2020 Shortlisted communities selected for virtual community conversations with selection committee: December 4, 2020 Virtual community conversations take place: early January 2021 Selected communities notified: by January 22, 2021 PA Community Heart & Soul® communities launch work: February 2021 How To Apply Communities must apply using PHC’s online system. To learn more about how to prepare your application, watch our recent webinar. Communities should first download the below PDF of the guidelines and application questions and prepare their answers in advance of submitting through the online system. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on November 18, 2020. Applicants must submit letters of support from the local municipality and any additional partners to demonstrate commitment to the process. Letters of support cannot be submitted using the online system and must be emailed to PHC by the deadline at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Heart & Soul [Community Name].” For inquiries about the Community Heart & Soul® program and completing your application, please contact Jen Danifo at email@example.com. For assistance with technical challenges regarding the online application submission process, contact Brandon Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Felicia Mycyk, Ambridge Heart & Soul We did it -- four events in one weekend! It was a challenge but we organized four Community Heart & Soul picnics in local parks throughout Ambridge. We followed CDC recommended guidelines which allowed residents to have a low-pressure experience meeting our leadership team and learning about how Ambridge Heart & Soul will become the basis for building our community's shared values and unique action plan. I can honestly say, I love where we are at in this journey. Community Heart & Soul is about storytelling and how it can help communities build brighter futures together. The goal is to involve as many residents as possible, including those who are underrepresented and have not typically had a voice in their community's planning processes. During our picnics, residents were welcomed and encouraged to visit five stations to help set the stage for meaningful and transformative action plans. Each station had a different experience: Station one: Learn more about Ambridge Heart & Soul's upcoming events and put a pin on where you live on the large map. Station two: Traveling Chalkboard of Public Wishing. Also, take-home bags of chalk with a note to go home and share you wishes on the sidewalks to post. Station three: We all need to eat—free hotdogs, chips, and drinks. Station four: Create your custom banner by finishing the sentence, "I want Ambridge to be ..." Station five: Let's help Ambridge Heat & Soul go viral with a resident-led video project. It will be an uphill battle to earn people's trust in a town where it wasn't always easy to be heard. Fortunately, there is training and support from the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the folks at Community Heart & Soul that will help everyone join together and collectively make a lasting impact. This is not new terrain for me as a longtime advocate for civic engagement in Ambridge. The Community Heart & Soul program builds on my own work of making meaningful change through conversations and storytelling. We are on our way to greater inclusivity and shared decision-making with these recent picnics, which engaged those missing voices and helped us learn more about what is important to our community. The next step is identifying shared values, called Heart & Soul Statements. We are setting the stage for meaningful and transformative plans for action! I can already envision us doing the strategic group events -- that we have yet to plan but will be coming in the future -- because we laid the foundation and started the conversation. I see our Community Heart & Soul events allowing safe discussions where residents want to connect, converse, and answer real questions about their community in places like the library, parks, and more. Resident-driven starts with residents seeing themselves in positions to be heard! Kudos to our team for being exactly what this community needs to make Ambridge what we all know it can be! Relish the process because we will see results in each event moving forward. I'm pumped! Related Content Pennsylvania Heart & Soul Communities Community Heart & Soul (Orton Family Foundation) Pennsylvania Humanities Council And Partners Bring $450,000 In Funding, Training And Technical Support To Three Beaver County Towns Building Community While Social Distancing
On Oct. 14th, 2020, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) and Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) gathered a panel of seasoned professionals for a conversation about the logistics and legal issues around creating and presenting virtual content. Together they discussed producing, promoting, and presenting relevant content, intellectual property and copyright, and cybersecurity. The 185 webinar attendees heard about technical requirements for livestream programming, marketing tips for virtual offerings, the impact of relatable content, how to secure themselves against cyber attacks, and the importance of copyright laws. Attendees from all across the arts and humanities sector tuned in from every corner of the state to heighten their skills in creating valuable virtual content. Please enjoy the full recording of the webinar below. Webinar attendees heard from: Emmai Alaquiva, Emmy Award-winning film director, photographer, and composer, and Council Member, PCA, about creating and producing relevant virtual content, and artivism and digital allyship. Adam Riggar, Director of Production, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, about how to pivot your programming and the technical aspects and considerations of virtual content. LaNeshe Miller-White, Executive Director, Theatre Philadelphia, about marketing and monetizing your virtual content. Sandy Garfinkel, Member, Eckert Seamans Attorneys at Law & Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, about cybersecurity for digital and virtual content. Shane Valenzi, Associate, Eckert Seamans Attorneys at Law & Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, about intellectual property and copyright issues for digital and virtual content. The speakers showed how arts and cultural organizations across the commonwealth have opportunities to pivot and to reimagine themselves in a virtual environment. They explained how to seek out and adapt to new technologies and demands through new approaches and practice. The session closed with an engaging round of panelists answering questions from the audience. Related Content Reopening The Arts And Humanities Safely
Williamsport artists and residents recently gathered on a bright Saturday morning for Factory Works’ official unveiling of the Lady of Light mosaic pillars at the Pajama Factory, an historic building renovated to provide space for artists and local organizations. The pillars were designed by local artist Dai En and created in collaboration with fellow Pajama Factory artists and the broader Williamsport community, guided by the storytelling work of Heart of Williamsport. Orchestrating the project was Factory Works, a nonprofit organization within the Pajama Factory complex that strives to ensure a collaborative and educational environment for artists, woodworkers, and the bicycling community. “For Factory Works, this project represents our community – a community that embraces the values highlighted through the storytelling process,” said Jeannette Carter, president of Factory Works’ board of directors. “These core values express gratitude for our community’s culture and its supportive environment for creativity, inclusion, and growth.” The two pillars are a striking 11 feet tall and 18 inches in diameter with kaleidoscopic patterns of dazzling glass and stone tiles that, upon closer examination, reveal curiosities like dice, bottle caps, and toy cars. The objects were donated as part of the Share Your Heart Project, which brought people together to share their experiences of the Pajama Factory and Factory Works. This deep engagement with the community’s stories provided the inspiration for Dai En’s beautiful mosaic work. “I can’t say it belongs to me any longer. It has a life of its own,” said Dai En. “Bringing the ‘treasures’ into it… allowed more community interaction and building of the story and meaning.” Heart of Williamsport lent its extensive story-gathering experience to the process, having dedicated the last few years to the citywide implementation of Community Heart & Soul®, a Pennsylvania Humanities Council supported approach to community development that uses the tools of the humanities to creatively engage residents in planning and decision-making processes as a way to strengthen a town’s social, cultural, and economic vibrancy. “The process of storytelling was robust and Heart of Williamsport supported us all the way,” said Carter. “Their guidance and assistance impacted the project’s strength and the representation of community values in the mosaic design and creation.” Alice Trowbridge, coordinator for Heart of Williamsport, said that the collaborative approach to creating the Lady of Light mosaic has been especially important during the pandemic, when people yearn for greater human connection and to tell their story. “Everyone needs a chance to speak their truth and feel heard,” said Trowbridge. “Seeing something this beautiful coming from a collection of personal stories and experiences connects people, evokes pride, and instills a sense of belonging.” After a series of speakers, the Lady of Light celebration concluded with courtyard music by the Susquehanna Jamcrackers and tours of an exhibit by Chad Andrews in the Factory Works gallery. Support for the Lady of Light mosaic pillars was provided by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
The Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC), in partnership with Erie Arts & Culture and the PA Route 6 Alliance, invites you to a free virtual workshop to learn about Community Heart & Soul™, an innovative community development process that uses the tools of the humanities to engage residents in planning for the future. Participants will also learn about a special grant opportunity, available to select counties, offered by PHC and statewide funding partners to become the next Heart & Soul community. What is Community Heart & Soul™? Community Heart & Soul™, originally developed by the Orton Family Foundation, is a process that cultivates a shared sense of belonging among residents, engages them in thinking critically and creatively about community life and involves them in planning and decision-making - all as a way to strengthen a town’s social, cultural and economic vibrancy. Key to the process is learning what matters most by gathering stories, hopes and ideas from residents. This becomes the basis for building a community’s shared values, which informs a community’s unique action plan. As a result, communities become more connected, resourceful and resilient. During this webinar, participants will: Learn about the four-phase Community Heart & Soul™ model. Learn how the humanities can be used to engage residents in visioning and planning for a community’s future. Hear from Pennsylvania Heart & Soul communities about how the model has been used to spark growth in their towns. Since 2015, PHC has been the only statewide organization partnering with the Orton Family Foundation to bring Community Heart & Soul™ to towns across Pennsylvania. Click here to learn more about our current H&S towns. “Through this process, the humanities are helping residents to revitalize their communities. By sharing stories, residents are opening pathways for learning and sparking dialogue that will result in the actions needed to transform their communities and public processes.” - Laurie Zierer, Executive Director of PHC Who Should Attend This workshop and grant opportunity is only open to the following counties: Crawford, Erie, Warren, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Bradford, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Wayne, Pike, Venango, Mercer, and Lawrence. Arts and culture organizations, local municipalities, community-based organizations, civic and economic development groups, downtown revitalization and preservation groups - and any resident or organization interested in increasing resident engagement and cross-sector collaboration for more robust community planning are encouraged to register. How To Participate Registration is required. PHC is offering two opportunities to learn about Community Heart & Soul™ and PHC’s special grant opportunity. Sign up below for the webinar that best fits your schedule. Tuesday, October 6 from 10:00 - 12:00 p.m. Register here: https://pahumanities.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EgNuenUvSOKDY7HYzc5aAw Thursday, October 8 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Register here: https://pahumanities.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_aiFXVrzJTxO6uy6xuQYRGQ Note: Application materials will be made available in October. Questions? Contact Jen Danifo at email@example.com or visit www.pahumanities.org for more information.
by Tammy Blount Teen Services Librarian, Erie County Public Library The Teen Reading Lounge (TRL) of the Erie County Public Library hosted a chalk art competition this summer. The teens were given the opportunity to “imagine their own story” through chalk art. They transformed the concrete around the library into vibrant colors and works of art that demonstrate the power of youth and their connection to the community. TRL, an award-winning program created by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, is in its 7th year at the Blasco Library. Participants have an opportunity to engage with literature and art with other teens in a safe learning space. They pick the books, the activities, and have deep discussions about serious issues that matter the most to them. Each year, the group also develops a social impact project to connect with the community. The recent project was inspired through their reading and the ongoing racial unrest in the nation. The group was meeting weekly at the start of 2020. The meetings and a trip to attend a Young Adult book conference in Pittsburgh were cancelled abruptly at the start of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. In June, the teens were finally able to pick up their books when the library was open for curbside pick-up. Each teen said how much they missed the library, the Teen Space and their friends! The TRL program resumed in July and began meeting virtually via Zoom. This summer, the club read Color Outside the Lines, edited by Sangu Mandanna. It is a collection of short stories about diverse teens (multiracial, intercultural, LGBTQ+) and how they love despite their differences. They wanted to encourage teens to promote awareness of teen issues while also building on the library’s summer reading challenge theme of "Imagine Your Own Story." The chalk art was an opportunity to tell their story about what it means to be a teen today in a positive way. The event was also the first time they were able to meet in person since March. They were given everything they needed to create their chalk art design. The chalk spaces were socially distant and the teens were required to wear masks. A dozen teens spent most of a very hot day sharing their art and their stories. They even tried frozen pickle juice pops! Many of the book discussions this session centered around how we can help people without a voice feel seen and heard. Clara Tupitza, age 16, created her chalk design with this thought in mind. She used a favorite quote: “Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place." She chose to make the people with the colors of the different LGBTQ+ flags. The teens had a great day full of fun and with a positive message. It was a very successful program and they would like to do it again soon. They hope that the people who take the chalk walk will see the beauty in diversity and the power of love in Erie. Teen Reading Lounge is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor. Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
PHILADELPHIA, PA (August, 4, 2020) -- Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC) today announced $780,500 in emergency relief grants to 140 Pennsylvania cultural nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Called PHC CARES, the goal of this fund is to assist in sustaining the state’s cultural infrastructure by advancing humanities programs, helping organizations adapt to site closures and the cancellation of in-person events that bring people together and support local economies. PHC assembled a diverse team of 44 cultural professionals who reviewed a total of 313 applications. Award amounts ranged from $3,000 to $10,000, scaled to each organization’s average annual operating budget. The recipients represent museums, historical societies, libraries, and other vital cultural institutions in 57 counties across Pennsylvania. They were carefully selected with an emphasis on equity and geographic diversity. The applicants to PHC CARES reported losses totaling $44.6 million, highlighting the deep and persistent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Despite facing unprecedented hardship, Pennsylvania’s resilient and creative cultural organizations continue to provide important services and programs to our communities,” said Laurie Zierer, PHC’s executive director. “PHC CARES will help sustain this vital cultural infrastructure at a time when it is needed most.” PHC CARES is funded by the national Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which became law on March 27, 2020. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) received funding allocated to the 56 humanities councils in the United States, including PHC, to distribute to humanities-based nonprofits financially impacted by the coronavirus. PHC CARES complements the $2.4 million in CARES Act funding previously provided to Pennsylvania by the NEH. The 140 PHC CARES awards will help organizations continue to serve their communities by retaining staff, shifting to online formats, and making resources available to those who depend on them for education, connection, and inspiration. “The collective impact of the hundreds of small cultural and heritage organizations across Pennsylvania is often overlooked. But the work we do is vital to the economic and social well-being of the communities we serve, and so we are honored to be among the recipients of this CARES Act funding,” said Michael L. Norris, executive director of The Carpenters’ Company. “This grant will help to keep Carpenters’ Hall financially sound and flexible as we continue to adapt to the systemic changes COVID-19 has wrought and find new, creative ways to fulfill our mission.” Related Content PHC CARES: Emergency Relief Grants NEH Offers Emergency Relief Funding to Cultural Institutions Affected by Coronavirus