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

Muralist Alliance's Dangerbeez with community members participating in site-specific durational mural on LA_Portal.

Congratulations to the Spring 2020 Humanities For All Quick Grant Awardees

Twenty new public humanities grantees will receive funding through the Humanities for All Quick Grant program. The projects will receive a total of $97,964. They include a range of locally-initiated public humanities projects, from a project at Mercado La Paloma in Los Angeles that features experiential Skype calls with people on around the world, to a community dialogue and guided walking tours San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood where participants will learn about the tradition of fishing in the African American community.

Apply here for our next round of Humanities for all Quick Grants; applications due on June 15. 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 grant line, 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 Spring 2020 round of Humanities for All Quick Grant awards, in addition to continuing consideration of all eligible project applications, California Humanities designated three specific funding focus areas: Youth Voices, Arts + Humanities, and Second Responders: The Humanities in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters.

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 “‡”).

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 “+”).


The special designation Second Responders: The Humanities in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters, supported by an NEH Chairman’s Award, is intended to assist California communities in recovering and healing as well as to raise awareness about natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, and mudslides (denoted by “*”).

Grants Awarded in Spring 2020

World on Fire: A Public Panel and Dialogue Program*
Eagle Rock Community Cultural Association, Los Angeles
Project Director: Melinda Ann Farrell

The Center for the Arts Eagle Rock will present World on Fire, a public panel presented in conjunction with a visual art exhibition. This panel will feature a conversation between interdisciplinary artists and scholars who will discuss the impact of fire and the destruction on our habitat. World on Fire, will explore the experience of fires in California to help audiences understand these overwhelming catastrophes and explore a science and humanities-based path forward. Programming is scheduled to begin in spring, 2021.

Conference on the American Short Story: A Diamond Jubilee for Postwar Short Fiction
Chapman University, Orange
Project Director: Anna Leahy

Chapman University will present the Conference on the American Short Story: A Diamond Jubilee for Postwar Short Fiction, which will examine and celebrate the reading and writing of short fiction in the United States. This gathering will bring together readers, scholars, students, and writers of all backgrounds into lively conversation to discuss how stories make sense of the world around us and explore the future of the short story form. This conference will work with the Literacies Partnership with Orange High School, Orange County School of the Arts, and Orange Public Library to provide young writers and the community the opportunity to work with California writers. Programming is scheduled for 2021-2022.

Memento: Archiving Memory+                                                                                                          Larry Spring Museum, Fort Bragg
Project Director: Anne Maureen McKeating

Memento: Archiving Memory, organized in collaboration between the Larry Spring Museum and indigenous filmmaker Jennifer Dysart will consist of a rich community-centered hands-on workshop series designed to acknowledge and foster awareness of the community’s multiple histories, experiences, and diverse social locations. Through hands-on art making activities, research and community dialogue, Memento: Archiving Memory participants will work with workshop facilitators to examine personal and public archives to consider the effect of archiving on memory. Programming is scheduled for 2020-2021.

 Black Roses: A Trans History of Black California
Gender Health Center, Sacramento
Project Director: Blu Buchanan

Black Roses: A Trans History of Black California organized by Gender Health Center will consist of a digital pilot project focused on archiving and amplifying the voices of Black trans Californians. Black Roses seeks to celebrate and commemorate both the life and death of Black trans people, to trace the contours of the Black trans community in California through digital life course histories. These histories will then be freely accessible to the wider public through the Digital Transgender Archives, alongside a curated online audio-visual exhibition. Programming will begin in September 2020.

Santa Barbara Reads 2020: Create!
Santa Barbara Public Library, Santa Barbara
Project Director: Lisa Neubert

Santa Barbara Reads 2020: Create is the Santa Barbara Public Library’s annual community read program. Santa Barbara Reads 2020 will explore the creative process and will feature several books including: Questlove’s Creative Quest; Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic; Nnedi Okorafor’s  Broken Places & Outer Spaces; Felicia Day’s Embrace Your Weird, by; and other titles in English and Spanish. Programming for Santa Barbara Reads 2020 may include interactive events, book discussions, and workshops, slated to begin in fall 2020. The goal of these events is to engage the community with local artists and writers to explore creativity and hands-on creative production in formal and informal ways.

Voices of Hope: Holocaust Survivors Share Their Stories Lecture Series+
New Americans Museum, San Diego
Project Director: Polly Toledo

Voices of Hope: Holocaust Survivors Share Their Stories is a digital lecture series organized by the New Americans Museum. Throughout the year four Holocaust survivors will share their stories of loss, resilience, and survival during the Holocaust. The lectures will be presented on a digital platform and will be followed by an open dialogue. Programming will begin in June 2020, with a lecture with Dr. Edith Eger. Future events will include a combination of digital and in person programming.

Cruising Nikkei: Japanese American Car Culture in Southern California
YOMYOMF Foundation, South Pasadena
Project Director: Philip Chung

Cruising Nikkei: Japanese American Car Culture in Southern California organized by YOMYOMF Foundation will consist of a panel discussion and oral history project examining the social history of Japanese American car culture in Southern California, from the 1930s to the present. By drawing attention to the first-hand experiences of Nikkei car enthusiasts, this project will include customizers, designers, and racers, this project to enrich the public understanding of both American automobile history and Asian American cultural history over the past century. Programming is scheduled to begin in spring, 2021.

Portraits in Their Own Words+
Kern Community College District, Bakersfield
Project Director: Andrew Bond

Portraits in Their Own Words, is a visual art and writing project developed by select Bakersfield College faculty and students. Faculty mentors will work closely with formerly incarcerated student writers and art students to create an exhibit of portraits and autobiographical narratives. This project seeks to challenge the stigma associated with past imprisonment while empowering and lifting student voices in the arts, humanities, and broader public dialogue. Programming is scheduled to begin spring 2021, and will include public readings and exhibitions at the Levan Center for the Humanities, Stiles Hall at UC Berkeley, and the Bakersfield Museum of Art. The exhibit will be digitally archived for posterity and patron accessibility.

BACKBONE: The Uncelebrated Stories of Asian American Mothers & Daughters+
Family Bridges Inc, Oakland
Project Director: Lailan Huen

BACKBONE: The Uncelebrated Stories of Asian American Mothers & Daughters organized by the Backbone Collective, will bring together Asian American women from across Northern California to explore the relationships between mothers and daughters. BACKBONE will document the complex stories, diverse families, and the real relationships of mothering, nourishment, survival, and healing across generations and migrations. This program will include a convening of sister circles to share stories and pieces, and a digital zine of writing and visual art, which will be presented at a culminating exhibit of photography of mother-daughter portraits and multi-media art to spur community dialogue and interactive reflection inviting participants to share and document their own stories. Programming is scheduled to begin in spring, 2021.

Kronos Lab: At War With Ourselves — 400 Years of You ‡
Kronos Performing Arts Association, San Francisco
Project Director: Janet Cowperthwaite

Kronos Lab: At War With Ourselves — 400 Years of You, presented by artists from At War With Ourselves will consist of a free public discussion exploring race relations in 21st-century America. Youth and at-risk transition-age participants from community organizations such as 826 Valencia, Sunset Youth Services, and others will share original written works and music created during community partnership programs and workshops with the lead artists of At War With Ourselves. Discussions will include online digital engagement activities, and in-person programming. Programming is scheduled to begin fall, 2020.

The Stories Behind the Games: Exploring the Power of Narrative through the D4 Creative Conference: Discover, Discuss, Develop & Design Tabletop Gaming
Comic-Con International, San Diego
Project Director: Eddie Ibrahim

The Stories Behind the Games: Exploring the Power of Narrative through the D4 Creative Conference: Discover, Discuss, Develop & Design Tabletop Gaming organized by the Comic-Con Museum will examine the importance of narrative in today’s multimedia communication avenues through an innovative partnership with one of pop culture’s stealthy utilizers of story craft – tabletop Game designers. Using tabletop gaming as a starting point, this program will explore big questions such as how storytellers influencing us? Who controls the story? Whose stories are included or excluded? Which details are provided to the audience to produce what effect? How is good storytelling creating pathways for careers and education? Programming is scheduled to begin in summer, 2021.

Art of Resilience+
Mil-Tree Veteran Project, Joshua Tree
Project Director: Cheryl Montelle

The Art of Resilience organized by the Mil-Tree Veteran Project will use Joseph Campbell’s template of the hero’s journey as a structural framework to sanctify the veteran’s journeys through dialogue, art, and ritual. The Art of Resilience virtual retreat will bring together veterans transitioning from military service to civilian life with other community members. Facilitators will use a transformative approach combining various humanities-based learning modalities with rituals and psychological modes to engage individuals and encouraging them to explore, create and share their stories in a safe space. Programing will include dialogue, writing, performative storytelling, drumming, and singing. A community performance will be held on the final day of retreat. Programming will begin summer, 202o.

Wonderland Radio Hour: Jenner-by-the-Sea and Beyond+
Rural California Broadcasting Corporation / Northern California Public Media, Rohnert Park
Project Director: Rhian Miller

Begun in 2018, The Wonderland Radio Hour is an on-going series focused on the West Sonoma communities within the Russian River watershed that includes a variety of visual and performing arts including music, video, audio stories, audience participation, oral history, and a radio broadcast. In 2020, Wonderland Radio Hour: Jenner-by-the-Sea and Beyond will focus on the communities of Cazadero, Duncans Mills, and Jenner by the Sea. This project will highlight the history and contemporary life of the local Kashia Band of Pomo Indians. The story of these traditions intersects with and informs contemporary coastal environmental concerns, such as restoration of kelp beds and over population of purple sea urchin. Programming is scheduled to begin in 2021.

Bayview Foodways & Waterways: A Community Walk, Dialogue, & Dinner +
California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco
Project Director: Deirdre Visser

The Arts at California Institute of Integral Studies will present Bayview Foodways & Waterways: A Community Walk, Dialogue, & Dinner, a multidisciplinary experience centered around the social history, ecology, and foodways of the diverse African American and Asian American communities of San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood. Programming will include a guided walk around Heron’s Head Park and will culminate in a shared community dinner and dialogue. This free event will unfold in conjunction with a solo exhibition of artist Tia-Simone Gardner’s work, which explores the complex role that waterways play in African American culture and history and the uneven impacts of climate change and rising sea levels on Bay Area communities. Programming will begin in spring, 2021.

Reading By Moonrise
Clockshop, Los Angeles
Project Director: Julia Meltzer

Reading By Moonrise organized by Clockshop, will present a series of reading and discussion programs that will feature humanities experts reading from their work and in dialogue. Writers, journalists, and public intellectuals are invited to read original and favorite texts at Los Angeles State Historic Park. Each reading will feature two California-based or born humanities experts whose work speaks to questions of the environment, land use, race, and belonging. Through carefully curated public storytelling, Reading By Moonrise will invite local communities to take part in conversations around the site’s future development to increase community investment, pushing audiences to reflect on the land itself and what it might become. Programming is scheduled to begin in fall, 2020.

BEING WELL/ESTAR BIEN AND LA Portal at Mercado La Paloma+
Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, Los Angeles
Project Director: Aparna Bakhle

BEING WELL/ESTAR BIEN AND LA Portal at Mercado La Paloma organized by Shared Studios will install immersive audio-visual environments called Portals to connect cities, universities, and cultural spaces around the world through cross-cultural dialogues, shared meals, and discussion on a variety of topics. Using high-end audio, video, and projection technology to connect people around the world, Portals create life-size, natural connections between people who would not otherwise meet to inspire place-keeping, community building and revitalization. Programming will begin fall, 2020.

The Suffrage Project: Contextualizing the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment Through Dance+
Litvak Dance Arts Foundation, Encinitas
Project Director: Sadie Weinberg

The Suffrage Project: Contextualizing the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment Through Dance, is organized in collaboration between LITVAKdance and Mojalet Dance Collective. The Suffrage Project will consist of six free shows at county libraries throughout San Diego and one full length performance. Using stories of local and national historical figures, this program seeks to expand the idea of suffrage to consider prohibitions associated with not only gender, but also race, class, faith, sexual orientation, and gender identity and how those prohibitions continue to shape our society today opening dialogue about what it means to have a democratic society. Programming is scheduled to run from November 2020 through February 2021.

Zines to the Future! (Re)Making SoCal Futures+
CSU Fullerton Auxiliary Services Corporation, Fullerton
Project Director: David Sandner

Zines to the Future! will consist of a series of public and virtual events on science fiction zine making. This project will feature an exhibit at CSU Fullerton’s Atrium Gallery of the Pollak Library that will display the history of science fiction zines, original art, as well as new zines drawn from the work of participants. Drawing on the theme of “Imagining Diverse Futures,” this project will include both public and virtual zine-making workshops from the library’s new “Makerspace,” a presentation of new zines by participants, panels with local community creators/makers, and a reception. Programming will begin in fall, 2020.

American Indian Culture and Art as Pedagogy: A Teaching and Learning Exhibit+
California State University, Fresno, Fresno
Project Director: Leece Lee-Oliver

American Indian Culture and Art as Pedagogy: A Teaching and Learning Exhibit, will celebrate the unique contributions of American Indian artists, filmmakers, and cultural practitioners whose works explore and comment on the histories and contemporary realities of California American Indians, their homelands, ongoing cultural practices, and efforts towards self-determination. American Indian Culture and Art as Pedagogy will consist of a virtual exhibit that aims to reflect California tribal experiences as the peoples navigate and survive challenges in relationship to western expansion and California state formation explored through diverse topics. This project is the keystone event for the California Indian Conference, the only conference in the U.S. that centers California Indians and California state formation and development. The virtual exhibit will debut in October 2020, with continued programming in spring, 2021.

New Voices ‡
Santa Cruz Art League, Santa Cruz
Project Director: Angela Ciandro

New Voices, organized by West Creative Performing Arts is new-work theatre incubation program for LGBTQ+ youth that will produce a public storytelling showcase on themes relevant to young, queer audiences. The program is designed and implemented by and for LGBTQ+ next-generation artists, centering on personal stories and topics relevant to young, underrepresented queer artists and audiences. Through workshops in writing and storytelling and a culminating public performance, New Voices acts as a springboard to develop artistic voice and a platform in connecting the community through shared experience and addresses current cultural challenges as well as reflects upon their diverse culture. Programming will begin in fall, 2020.

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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