Humanities NY (HNY) is the state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The mission of Humanities New York is to strengthen civil society and the bonds of community, using the humanities to foster engaged inquiry and dialogue around social and cultural concerns. HNY achieves their mission through grants, programs, signature events, and podcasts. To implement humanities projects across New York State, HNY offers three types of grant opportunities: Action, Quick, and Vision grants.
Action grants offer up to $5,000 to implement humanities projects that encourage public audiences to reflect on their values, explore new ideas, and engage with others in their community. Action Grants have two deadlines per year; October 1 for projects startings January 1 or later the following year, and April 1 for projects starting July 1 or later. Applicants are notified of the Grant Review Committee’s decision approximately 10 weeks after the submission deadline. These grants aim to connect audiences more deeply to their communities where they live and work, solidify community partnerships and diversify audiences, and creatively employ the tools of the humanities to respond to issues and ideas capturing the imagination and passion of New Yorkers today. In 2021, HNY will continue to prioritize women’s history projects.
Accepted on a rolling basis, Quick Grants are $500 implementation grants for in-person public humanities projects that encourage audiences to reflect on their values, explore new ideas, and engage with others in their community. These grants are available to organizations whose annual operating expenses are $250,000 or less. Quick Grants aim to support smaller organizations in offering engaging public programming and promote equity in access to the humanities. They help ensure that New Yorkers of all backgrounds and from all regions may engage in cultural programming. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, requests in 2021 related to the U.S. Women’s Suffrage Centennial in 2020 are welcome.
Also accepted on a rolling basis, Vision Grants offer up to $1,500 in support of brainstorming, researching, and professional development for organizations working collaboratively to develop new ideas and strategies for public-facing humanities projects. These grants aim to support emerging and established partnerships between different organizations on a shared project that may develop into public-facing activities, infuse program design with humanities themes and methodologies from the start, encourage experimentation and build community input into program design.
“Applicants should submit their proposal at least two months before their project start date,” said Scarlett Rebman, HNY Director of Grants. The HNY Grant Review Committee meets once a month to evaluate applications. “Applicants can preview the application on our website,” said Rebman. “We don’t require a Letter of Intent, and a phone appointment is encouraged but not required.
HNY works closely with applicants throughout the application process. Applicants can request a phone appointment using the calendar on the HNY website to schedule an appointment to speak directly with a staff member. “Either I or one of my colleagues will call at the requested time, and we are happy to go over the opportunities and/or provide feedback on specific proposal ideas,” said Rebman. “We will also read draft materials. We strive to be transparent and supportive as possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out!”
Advice for Prospective Applicants?
“Have someone else read your project narrative for clarity and understanding,” said Rebman. “A proposal doesn’t have to be perfectly polished in order to get funded, but it does have to convey what your project will accomplish and why it is important.” Rebman also advises applicants to be sure to explain why the project’s topic or theme is significant to the audience you serve and why the humanities are central to the project.
Preservation Long Island’s Action Grant
Preservation Long Island with the NYS Museums hosted a Zoom conversation with “Indigenous History & Art at Good Little Water Place” curators Jeremy Dennis and Dr. Gwendolyn Saul
Last year, Preservation Long Island received an Action Grant for “Indigenous History & Art at Good Little Water Place.” The exhibition features artwork from nine contemporary Indigenous artists as well as collection objects from Preservation Long Island, the New York State Museum, and the Southold Indian Museum. The exhibit places contemporary Indigenous art alongside history objects “offering an inquisitive look at the history and on-going relations between Indigenous people and land, and reminding viewers of the responsibility that we all share to know our common histories with each other and their impact on our connections to place.” It’s a grant project that stands out for Rebman.
“The first thing that stood out is the importance of the topic,” said Rebman. “In the past Indigenous voices have often been absent from museums and exhibits that depict Indigenous history. There’s a lot of painful history there, and a lot of distrust. Preservation Long Island and other museums around the state are doing important work engaging communities in thoughtful conversations about the interpretation, and re-interpretation of Indigenous history and culture.” Rebman said that the key to the success of these initiatives is bringing in the right expertise and partnerships. This exhibit is curated by Jeremy Dennis, and Shinnecock Indian Nation artist and Dr. Gwendolyn Saul, Curator of Ethnography at the New York State Museum. “It was clear that they had assembled the right team to approach this topic with sensitivity and care.”
In September 2020, Preservation Long Island launched “Indigenous History & Art at Good Little Water Place” as a virtual exhibition.
In 2021, HNY is committed to supporting humanities projects that are timely, relevant, and engaging. “We also recognize that cultural organizations are responding to rapidly changing public health recommendations, and we welcome projects whether they are designed to be virtual, in-person, or a combination of both,” said Rebman. “We will continue to offer our partners flexibility in adapting projects to meet the evolving needs and comfort levels of their audiences.”
Grants are just one way to stay involved with HNY. “I invite MANY members to get to know us better,” said Rebman. “We have a lot going on virtually right now, including an ongoing series of virtual community conversations and the Amended podcast, which you can stream on our website or download with a podcast app.”
On Tuesday, February 16 at 2 PM, HNY staff is hosting a Grants information Webinar to review 2021 funding opportunities, eligibility, and the application process. Staff will provide tips for preparing successful applications and include time to answer questions. Learn more and register for this free webinar here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/grants-information-webinar-tickets-137818182895
Learn more about Humanities New York at humanitiesny.org