Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

Announcing 20 New Humanities for All Quick Grant Awardees

Congratulations to 20 new public humanities grantees who received funding through the Humanities for All Quick Grant program. These projects invite thoughtful reflection and consideration of topics important to people in California. From a youth-focused suicide prevention storytelling project in San Diego, to a literary exploration of the desert in Hesperia, a city in San Bernardino County, to a film series dedicated to raising awareness about genocide in Humboldt, there are many incredible projects that make up this cohort. The richness and diversity of our state is represented through the regions, communities, and modalities of these projects, including film screenings, exhibits, community book discussions, and more. Check out our calendar here and subscribe to our eNews to stay tuned for updates about events in your region.

Our Quick Grant program, a branch of our Humanities for All grants, offers funding (between $1,000 and $5,000) for small-scale local public humanities activities that take place within a year. These grants are offered three times annually. All projects address the needs and interests of Californians, encourage greater public participation in humanities programming, particularly by new and/or underserved audiences, and promote understanding and empathy among all our state’s peoples in order to cultivate a thriving democracy. The range of public humanities projects supported can include interpretive exhibits, community dialogue and discussion series, workshops and participatory activities, presentations and lectures, conversations and forums, and interactive and experiential activities.

In the Fall 2019 round of Humanities for All Quick Grant awards, in addition to continuing consideration of all eligible project applications relating to the histories, experiences and/or contemporary issues of concern to the people of California, using any mode or format and reaching any public audience, California Humanities designated two specific funding focus areas:

California Humanities recognizes the strong interconnections between the arts and humanities. These projects provide humanities learning experiences primarily through the medium of visual or performing arts programming (denoted by “+”).

California Humanities has a strong interest in humanities programming that will reach and engage the next generation. These projects involve teens as primary program participants or audiences, and address topics or subjects of interest to them (denoted by “*”).

Grants Awarded in Fall 2019

100 Years of the Women’s Vote

California State University, Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles, CA
Project Director: Jennifer Brandt
The exhibit, 100 Years of the Women’s Vote, will open in April of 2020 at the Faculty Development Center at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) in Carson. The project will be a joint effort of the CSUDH Women’s Studies Program and the CSUDH Donald R. & Beverly J. Gerth Archives & Special Collections, who has lent materials to the exhibit. Public programming will include a screening of the film Knock Down the House, which highlights the primary campaigns of four working-class women who ran for Congress in the 2018 midterm election. Congressional candidate Amy Vilela will be present for dialogue. $5,000

A People’s History of Southern California Foodways

Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA
Project Directors: John Lang, Jaletta White-Griego
A People’s History of Southern California Foodways, a two-day symposium at The Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, will consist of a public exploration of the contributions that immigrants and people of color have made and continue to make in the development of California cuisine. Understanding the ways that people of color and immigrants have actively participated in the evolution of the state’s foodways can provide a better understanding of the ways in which these communities continue to impact California’s culture. On Friday, October 11, 2019, the symposium will include a screening and discussion of the film City of Gold, followed by a reception held in the Autry’s Gathering Circle. Saturday, October 12, 2019 will include a full day of presentations and conversations in The Autry’s Wells Fargo Theater, including lunch inside The Autry’s Heritage Court and a concluding banquet held in the Autry’s Gathering Circle. $5,000

Bird Songs—Native American Stories that Connect to Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday +

Flights of Fantasy Media Company, Los Angeles, CA
Project Director: Lorrie Oshatz
Bird Songs—Native American Stories that Connect to Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday, will bring interactive theater presentations for children and families drawing on the stories and beliefs of the Gabrielino, Cahuilla, and Juaneño people. Bird Songs will be presented at five Pasadena public libraries in celebration of Native American Heritage Month throughout November 2019. Audience members will participate in an in-depth hour-long conversation with the storytellers after the performances that will delve into the content of the show, the social lessons and cultural beliefs illustrated in the stories, and the inherent similarities between these folktales and those from other parts of the world, connecting us all within the human experience. $5,000

Called to Rise: Chinese Americans’ Involvement in World War II

Chinese Historical Society of America, San Francisco, CA
Project Director: Pam Wong
Called to Rise: Chinese Americans’ Involvement in World War II will be a two-day symposium in November 2019, hosted by the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA), in San Francisco. The symposium will explore Chinese Americans’ extensive involvement in the war effort during World War II. Military historians and veterans will share topics of service before 1941, during WWII, community activism at home, and the legacies of service. CHSA will display a travelling exhibit, screen WWII films, and rededicate the War Memorial at Chinatown’s St. Mary’s Square. The event will offer different learning opportunities for audiences to engage with World War II history. $5,000

Creative + Cultural Podcast Series—Japanese Internment Past & Present +

Eighteen Eighty Eight, Orange, CA
Project Director: Jose Arriola
The 2019 Creative + Cultural Podcast will consist of a series of live conversations that will bring together community activists, scholars, and survivors to provide testimony and insight regarding the exclusion, forced removal, and internment of Japanese Americans. This program will draw connections between Japanese American internment to recent legislation such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in order to consider the lasting impact of these executive orders. Five live performances will take place between September of 2019 and May of 2020 throughout Orange County: Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, Wintersburg Japanese Mission in Huntington Beach, University of California Irvine in Irvine, the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center in Anaheim, and the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton. $5,000

Cultural Legacies and Speculative Futures: LGBTQ+ and / or Latinx History as Survival Strategies

The Santa Cruz Hub for Sustainable Living, Santa Cruz, CA
Project Director: Kyle McKinley
In March 2020, The Hub for Sustainable Living will offer three public workshops at the Bike Church, Fabricá, and Sanctuary Santa Cruz, all located in Santa Cruz. These workshops will uncover the regional and transnational legacies of craft and creativity as tools for cultural survival in the face of climate change and political intolerance. Participants will create crafts while exploring LGBTQ+ and Latinx histories on the themes of women and trans folks in the early history of bicycling, embroidery and fabric-arts in story-telling and legacy-making among Chicanas/Mexican American women, and rasquache, or the practice of children’s handcrafted kites of the Puebla region of central Mexico. $5,000

Exploring the Literature of the California Desert

Wordsmith Productions, San Bernardino, CA
Project Director: Davida Siwisa James
Exploring the Literature of the California Desert is a series of prose and poetry readings and discussions that will be presented at the October 2019 High Desert Book Festival at Hesperia Civic Plaza Park in Hesperia. Programs will include a featured presentation and writing workshop led by desert scholar Ruth Nolan, who will survey some of the 80 literary works featured in the anthology, No Place for a Puritan: the Literature of California’s Deserts. This programming will also include a panel of High Desert writers and journalists who will encourage community discussions about the lore, mystique, and history surrounding the literature of the California Desert. $5,000

Genocide Awareness Film Series +

Humboldt State University, Humboldt, CA
Project Directors: Erika Wright, Kacie Flynn
The Genocide Awareness Film Series at Humboldt State University in Arcata will consist of a film and discussion series that will run from September 2019 through April 2020. The films selected for this series will range in topics from the origins of the word “genocide” to the local and global implications of genocide. Each film featured in this series will speak to a segment of the demographics of the population of California, a state that has become home to survivors of genocidal events from the Holocaust to the Genocide of the Tutsis. Film screenings will be followed by discussions moderated by faculty who work and teach in the field of Genocide Studies. $4,946

Geography Meets Humanities: A Focus on Social Justice

California State University, Stanislaus, CA
Project Director: Dr. Jose Diaz-Garayua
Geography Meets Humanities: A Focus on Social Justice presented at Cal State University Stanislaus in Turlock will celebrate the annual Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day, from November 11 through 15 of 2019. This world-wide annual event will bring together four geography scholars who will share their work and explore its application to social justice and the humanities. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the historical, social, economic, and cultural influences that shape their views on social and environmental equity to recognize themselves as active agents of change. The speakers will draw on a wide range of topics including film, fair trade, the role of big data and GIS in activism in disadvantaged communities, and climatology and inequalities. $5,000

L;ve To Tell Your Story*

Get Empowered Today, San Diego, CA
Project Director: Julie Kendig
L;ive To Tell Your Story is a humanities and art initiative located in San Diego, that will engage teens and transitional-age youth in a series of public programs that will unfold during National Suicide Prevention Week in September 8 through 14, 2019. This project will use the power of the arts and humanities to address a disturbing rise in San Diego County’s youth suicide rate. Project programming will include a week-long series of gatherings, performances, and discussions that will be presented at Fair@44 in San Diego led by professional artists and highly trained and licensed clinical social workers. This program is designed for intergenerational groups of youth and elders who are encouraged to share their art and stories as a mechanism for healing and hope. $5,000

My Sad Captains: A Thom Gunn Poetry Film Series & Community Retrospective +

Fiscally Sponsored by Film Independent, San Francisco, CA
Project Director: Ted Gioia
My Sad Captains is a multimedia retrospective on the life of Thom Gunn, one of the early chroniclers of San Francisco’s gay counterculture in the 60s and 70s that will include a series of two public facing events scheduled for June 2020. This program will include three short film adaptions of Thom Gunn’s poems “My Sad Captains”, “The Hug,” and “The Man with Nights Sweats” that will be screened at a community panel event at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. These screening and discussion events will feature local LGBT writers, colleagues of Thom Gunn, Bay Area historians, witnesses of the AIDS epidemic, and poetry fans who will celebrate Gunn’s lasting legacy on gay counterculture. $5,000

One County, One Book Community Reading Program

Ventura County Library, Ventura, CA
Project Director: Ron Solórzano
Throughout the month of October 2019, The Ventura County Library system will host One County, One Book, a series of free public lectures, workshops, and film screenings related to The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Events will take place in all twelve branches of the Ventura County Library system in Ventura. Participants will have access to copies of the book that will be available to check out in multiple languages. As a capstone to the fall program, author Susan Orlean will speak at California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo on November 2.  $5,000

Oral History Initiative: Sacramento Movimiento Chicano and Mexican American Education Project +

La Familia Counseling Center, Sacramento, CA
Project Director: Rhonda Rios Kravitz
Oral History Initiative: Sacramento Movimiento Chicano and Mexican American Education Project will present a one-day symposium on November 25, 2019 at the California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) Alumni Center. This program will include four panel presentations that will honor 99 voices of Chicana/o activists that were interviewed and videotaped from 2014 to 2016. This program will highlight four topics: developing, implementing, and sustaining effective partnerships between academics and communities to give genuine voices to the historical past, the interview process, making of the documentary, and hearing the audiotaped recordings of selected interviewees. Attendees will have the opportunity to speak directly with the activists during the lunch hour. In addition, there will be a formal transfer of the Audio/Video Recordings to the Special Collections/Archives at CSUS. $5,000

Recoding CripTech +

SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA
Project Director: Vanessa Chang
Recoding CripTech will consist of a month-long arts exhibit and three-part series of community events presented at SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco. This exhibition and programming will explore how disability and technology can help us think through access, communication, and the politics of representation in different ways. Working with a broad understanding of technology, from prosthetic tools to the built environment, Recoding CripTech examines how disability—and artists who identify as disabled—can redefine design, aesthetics, and the relationship between user and interface. This exhibition and related public programs will include works of visual art, installation, and multimedia projects that will feature ten artists with disabilities who use creative technologies in unexpected and transgressive ways. Programming is scheduled from January 24 through February 25, 2020. $5,000

The Blue Hour +

Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts and Education, Los Angeles, CA
Project Director: Claudia Mercado
The Blue Hour will consist of a documentary film and discussion series that will take place from September to November 2019 at Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts and Education in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles. The monthly film screenings featured in this program will provide a communal space to see compelling, award-winning documentaries that will examine the theme of immigration ranging from local to global perspectives. Films will be followed by moderated discussions that will include filmmakers, professionals in the field of immigration work, and the individuals featured in these films. $5,000


Asian Story Theater, San Diego, CA
Project Director: Kent Brisby
Asian Story Theater in San Diego will present THE GOLDEN RULE, a new theatrical production that seeks to personalize the Gold Rush period of California history from the perspective of individuals who lived through it. THE GOLDEN RULE will explore the lives of three individuals ranging from the first Chinatown madam, a runaway slave, and a Sandwich Islander (Hawaiian) who arrived in California before the discovery of gold, in addition to the presence of a fourth character who will represent mercurial role of the law in 19th century California. Each performance will be accompanied by live music. San Diego-based organizations such as the Chinese Historical Museum, San Diego Chinese Center, San Diego Black Ensemble Theater, African Museum del Rey Moro, Hui O Hawaii, and Healii Polynesian Revue will provide research for this project. Programming will begin in June 2020. $5,000


dramaworks, Plumas, CA
Project Director: Edie O’Connor
The I ACCEPT YOU PROJECT asks Plumas County youth: What would Plumas County be like if everyone accepted people of differing socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations and identities, ethnicities, and age groups? Participating youth will work with a cadre of artists, youth counselors and health educators who will use a range of visual, written and performing art techniques to explore participants’ experiences with bias, promote empathy, and empower youth become change agents. Programming will start in January 2020. The resulting products will become part of the initial installation presented at Sierra West End Educational Theatre in Quincy, which uses a drama-based, peer-mentoring program to create visual, written and performing arts responses which will be shared in a free community celebration in summer 2020. $5,000

Veterans Write Their Poetic Myth

Returning Soldiers Speak, Los Angeles, CA
Project Director: Leilani Squire
Debuting in September 2019, Veterans Write Their Poetic Myth will include a series of poetry writing workshops for Los Angeles-area veterans. Based on their military experiences and return to civilian life, the participants will explore, discover, and write their personal myth in eight weekly workshops. Veteran poets will explore the questions: How does my poetic myth shape my relationship to myself and others? What does “come home” mean for the individual, the family, and society? Handmade booklets exploring the participants’ poetic myths will be distributed during a culminating public performance and discussion event at the North Hollywood Library on November 23. $5,000

Visual Sovereignty: A Symposium on Contemporary Native American Art and Activism +

The Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
Project Director: Lial Jones
The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento will present Visual Sovereignty: A Symposium on Contemporary Native American Art and Activism scheduled for October of 2019. This program will consist of a one-day symposium that will include a series of lectures and panel talks designed to explore the powerful role art plays in keeping Native traditions and culture alive and thriving after generations of attempted colonialist erasure and genocide. The symposium is part of the educational humanities programming developed in conjunction with an exhibition of contemporary Native American art, When I Remember, I See Red: American Indian Art and Activism in California, which will be on view at the time of the symposium. $4,998

Writing Workshops for Communities of Color

California State University, Fresno Foundation, Fresno, CA
Project Directors: Venita Blackburn & Doug Carey
California State University Fresno will present Writing Workshops for Communities of Color, comprised of a series of free writing workshops that will be presented at a public library in Fresno starting in October 2019 through Spring 2020. The workshops will delve into a variety of literary genres ranging from poetry to fiction, as well as creative non-fiction and memoir. Each workshop will be presented by a guest expert followed by small group reading of the participants’ work and onsite critique and evaluation. In addition to the intensive instructional writing workshops, these programs will also include a reading and discussion session led by a professional author of color. Participants will explore literary technique, form, publishing norms, historical contexts, and speculation about industry projections. $5,000

Click here to see the list of Humanities for All Quick Grant projects funded to date. Visit the Humanities for All Funding webpage for more information.


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