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

Congratulations to the Winter 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 $98,239. They include a range of locally-initiated public humanities projects, from a teen-focused writing workshop series that will share speculative writing and reading techniques and help catalyze supportive and creative teen communities in the San Diego area, to a month-long presentation of multimedia arts celebrating Black empowerment and possibility in San Luis Obispo for Black History Month.

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 Winter 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: Arts & Humanities, Youth Voices, and, for the first time this grant round, Second Responders: The Humanities in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters.

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 “*”).


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 Winter 2020

In addition to continuing consideration of all eligible project applications on any topic, using any mode or format and reaching any public audience, California Humanities designated three specific funding focus areas for Humanities for All Quick Grants: Youth Voices (denoted by “*”), Arts & Humanities (denoted by “+”), and Second Responders: The Humanities in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters (denoted by “”). 

Veterans Empowerment Theatre+
CRE Outreach Foundation Inc., Los Angeles
Project Director: Greg Shane
All veterans have memories from their time of service—everything from boot camp to returning to civilian life—and these stories are sometimes poignant, sometimes painful. Starting in September 2020, Veterans Empowerment Theatre will provide 20 veterans with the opportunity to work with creative writing instructors to draw on their personal experiences to create short stories. This program will assist participants in independently creating a short story and hone their writing skills. After concluding the writing workshops, program participants will present a series of five public performances around Veterans Day 2020 at the Blue Door in Culver City. After the performance, the short stories will be made available to the public via the CRE Outreach website. $5,000

Connecting Cultures: Barona Band of Mission Indians
The New Children’s Museum
, San Diego
Project Director: Lynn Basquez
In fall 2020, The New Children’s Museum (NCM) of San Diego will present Connecting Cultures: Barona Band of Mission Indians, a series of “culture talks” presented in collaboration with the Barona Cultural Center & Museum meant to foster awareness around Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It will include a “culture talk,” creative activities, and a performance that will share the history and stories of local native peoples, celebrating their cultures, contributions, and traditions in family friendly and accessible ways. In October 2020, Barona will also participate in NCM’s Educators’ Night Out, presenting at the resource fair and leading a professional development session. $5,000

Revelation & Rebirth: The History & Practice of Collecting African American Art+
Richmond Art Center, Richmond
Project Director: Amy Spencer
Revelation & Rebirth, presented on February 1, 2020 by the Richmond Art Center, will feature a lecture and community discussion given by arts educator Nashormeh Lindo. In this lecture Lindo will examine the history of African American artists overlooked by major institutions. Revelation & Rebirth will also highlight important public and private collections of African American art, as well as discuss contemporary collecting practices that are shifting the status quo. This conversation will be held in conjunction with The Art of Living Black, an annual exhibition presenting work from 100 artists of African descent, on view January through March, 2020. $3,410

Califas Relatos Revelados: Stories Revealed*
Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Santa Cruz
Project Director: Susan Nilsson
Califas Relatos Revelados: Stories Revealed will comprise of a suite of public programs that seek to unite local artists, arts- and literacy-based organizations, along with children, teens, families, and community members to view, write, discuss, and express themselves through art. Programming will take place at Santa Cruz and Watsonville branch libraries and will run from June through October 2020. Califas Relatos Revelados: Stories Revealed will include the debut of the Califas Moveable Mural with an artist-led panel discussion, a teen writing activity coordinated by the Hablamos Juntos Young Writers Project, teen zine-making events led by Zine Fronteras co-organizer Lorena López Rivera, and bilingual interactive art activities for children and their families with printmaker and local artist Enrique López. $5,000

From Suffrage to #MeToo—Capturing the Stories of Groundbreaking Women in Sonoma County
Museum of Sonoma County, Sonoma
Project Director: Eric Stanley
Commemorating the centennary of the women’s constitutional right to vote, the Museum of Sonoma County will present a series of public programs complementing the exhibition From Suffrage to #MeToo, which explores the changing expectations, challenges, and obstacles to inclusion that women have faced over the past century—and the people who broke through those barriers. This series will run from February through May 2020, and will include an author lecture, community discussion, panel discussion, and family day presented at the Museum of Sonoma County, at the Sonoma County Library in Santa Rosa, and at the Rohnert Park Library. The programs are presented in collaboration with the Sonoma County Library, the National Women’s History Alliance, and the Sonoma County 2020 Suffrage Project. $5,000

Black is Beautiful: Black Power & Jazz Film Series
Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco
Project Director: Elizabeth Gessel
Throughout February 2020 the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) is will present Black Power & Jazz, a film series presented in conjunction with the exhibit Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Braithwaite, focusing on the Black Pride movement in fashion and jazz in the 1960s. Black Power & Jazz will consist of a four-week screening and discussion series exploring representative and still-influential jazz icons of the era that will include the films ABBEY LINCOLN IS (1998), HORACE TAPSCOTT: MUSICAL GRIOT (2017), and PASSING THROUGH (1977), and another film to be announced soon. MoAD’s exhibition and related public programming is part of a cross-institutional collaboration between the de Young Museum and SFMOMA celebrating Black art in San Francisco. $5,000

The Story of South Asians in Southern California+
South Asian Network, Artesia
Project Director: Shikha Bhatnagar

The Story of South Asians in Southern California is an archival project that will highlight the South Asian American story in Southern California, assembled through a combination of interviews and images from organization founders, community leaders, and individuals. Together these artifacts, images, and testimonies will develop a visual narrative of the collective story of South Asian Americans from their first arrival in the early 19th century to present day. This visual narrative will be used for a special exhibit that will debut in Los Angeles on Friday, September 11, 2020. Physical materials will be provided in English and various South Asian languages, and video clips will either be dubbed or subtitled. $5,000

Philippine National Day Association LahiARTS 2020 Season*
Philippine National Day Association, Sacramento
Project Director: Vince Sales
Beginning in May 2020, 1810 Gallery in Sacramento will host Kapwa, a multi-disciplinary exhibit featuring art created by Filipinx American women visual artists. This exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public programs that will include performances, author’s talks, and community workshops that explore themes of identity, movement, and migration, reclaiming space, community-building, civic engagement, intersectionality, and the role of women in cultural progress and equity. This program will also include a summer writing workshop for youth led by young adult fiction writer Randy Ribay, who will introduce youth participants to the arts as a career, as well as assist participants with a creative project. $5,000

BELONGING: Expressions of Black Empowerment and Possibility in San Luis Obispo+
R.A.C.E. Matters, San Luis Obispo
Project Director: Courtney Haile
BELONGING: Expressions of Black Empowerment and Possibility in San Luis Obispo presented by R.A.C.E. Matters, is a month-long, multi-location, multimedia arts experience in San Luis Obispo (SLO) that will take place during Black History Month in February 2020. Programs will include an evening of live storytelling performances by local Black community members, the premiere of a new documentary film about a black-owned SLO barbershop KUT TO BE THE BEST, and a photographic exhibit featuring portraits of Black community members at the SLO Library. All month, residents of can view a window exhibit at the Downtown SLO Office, exploring the work of underrecognized local Black heroes. $5,000

Taiko Swing Humboldt+
Humboldt Folklife Society, Humboldt
Project Director: Amy Uyeki

In January 2020, Taiko Swing Humboldt, a collaboration between San Jose Taiko and the the Humboldt State University Jazz Orchestra, will host Swingposium on the Road. Swingposium will consist of a four-day series of living history events set in a mess hall at a WWII Japanese American concentration camp. This program will use music and immersive theatre to tell the story of the big bands in the Japanese American incarceration camps to explore the injustices inflicted by an unconstitutional executive order against an entire group of people, two thirds of them American citizens. A shortened version of this program will be paired with student discussion about the immigrant experience presented for two high school performances and one at Humboldt State University. $5,000

SDFutures Collective: Teen Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshops*
Regents of the University of California; University of California San Diego
Project Director: Patrick Coleman
The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego presents SDFutures Collective: Teen Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshops, a teen-focused writing workshop series that will share speculative writing and reading techniques, help catalyze supportive and creative teen communities, and be an exciting, dynamic, fun, and challenging experience for students to work with established writers from the San Diego area who can understand their experiences. Workshops will begin in June 2020, presented across East County and South San Diego at public library partner sites in Chula Vista, National City, downtown San Diego, Ramona, and Vista. This program will conclude with a public reading and celebration at the UC San Diego campus in October 2020. $5,000

Amplifying Community: Recording the History of the San Joaquin Valley Armenian Music Production
California State University, Fresno Foundation
Project Director: Barlow Der Mugrdechian
Amplifying Community: Recording the History of the San Joaquin Valley Armenian Music Production is a public memory event that will take place in March 2020 at California State University Fresno. Amplifying Community is dedicated to recovering the history of Armenian-American music production in the San Joaquin Valley during first half of the 20th century. Drawing upon the reminiscences and expertise of local musicians, this event will provide a forum for the community to contribute their own recollections, contextualizing and bringing to life the little-studied early musicians, recording labels, and venues in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The one-day event will include a round table discussion moderated by Dr. Turkyilmaz, Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian, and Mr. Richard Hagopian and other community members knowledgeable in the history of the early local record labels. Participants can also take part in a public scanning station to scan photographs and ephemera relating to Armenian music production that will become part of an existing archive of 78 RPM records housed at the university. This program will conclude with a free concert and reception. $4,829

Into the Underworld and Back—Women’s Stories of Making Their Way Back From Death and Darkness
Mindful Warrior Project, Los Angeles
Project Director: Gail Soffer

Into the Underworld and Back—Women’s Stories of Making Their Way Back From Death and Darkness presented by the Mindful Warrior Project in Los Angeles will include a 15-session workshop series inviting women of all ages and background to read, view, and discuss various reinterpretations of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Participants will craft prose poetry and art born from their own experiences as reponses to the retelling of this ancient myth. In February 2020, these workshops will be accompanied by a panel discussion at the Los Angeles Opera’s performance of Eurydice and a reading and discussion event at the Pasadena American Legion Post #13 that will feature a short reading of the classical myth, a reading of short stories written by program participants, and a guided panel discussion. To culminate the series, the reflections and art will be shared at Los Angeles County’s Department of Mental Health’s We Rise event in summer 2020. $5,000

Amendment 19: Votes for Women*
Museum of Ventura County, Ventura
Project Director: Denise Sindelar
Beginning in April 2020, the Museum of Ventura County (MVC) will join in the national centennial celebration of women’s voting rights through the presentation of the exhibition of Amendment 19: Votes for Women. This exhibition seeks to enrich public understanding of individual and community values, provide people of all ages the opportunity to reflect on their responsibilities to others in local, national, and global communities, and to encourage community engagement through voting. In spring 2020 the public will be invited to share their historic photos, anecdotes and objects related to the topic during three Days of Collecting to locate artifacts and personal anecdotes related to the topic of women’s voting rights. Appointments will be held at MVC’s main location, downtown Ventura, and in Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley. Public programs supporting this exhibition will also include an opening reception celebrating the debut of the exhibition, and the Ventura Suffragette March. Select items from the exhibition will be included in a new bilingual interactive exhibition at the museum, which will also travel to all Ventura county high schools and libraries. $5,000 

When We Hid in Plain Sight
J-Sei, Alameda
Project Director: Stan Yogi
When We Hid in Plain Sight, an exhibit on queer Japanese American or Nikkei history from the late 1880s through World War II, will illuminate how Japanese immigrant or Issei sexualities and gender presentations forged new ways of expression within the Japanese American community and the burgeoning white LGBTQ community. Programs associated with this exhibit will include a talk by Dr. Andrew Leong on Japanese immigrant literature as fundamentally queer, a presentation on male love and Orientalism by Dr. Amy Sueyoshi, screening and discussion of short films exploring LGBTQ Nikkei by artist and theorist Dr. Tina Takemoto, and an intergenerational panel discussion involving LGBTQ Japanese Americans. The exhibit and programs will take place between October and December 2020 at J-Sei, a multi-cultural, multi-generational organization with roots in the Nikkei community, located in Emeryville. $5,000

WordSpring Creative Writing Conference 2020
Butte College, Butte-Glenn Community College District, Butte
Project Director: Molly Emmons
The 2020 WordSpring Creative Writing Conference is a one-day creative writing conference held on April 25, 2020 in Oroville, California, hosted by the Butte College Main Campus, a designated wildlife refuge of 928 acres. WordSpring 2020 will feature a keynote speaker and 16 hands-on workshops led by experts in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. This year, organizers will bring in poetry and creative writing sessions to help heal communities devastated by the 2018 Camp Fire wildfire. Community members and students from high school through college are invited to join. $5,000

Sine Kuwento+
Bonita Historical Society, San Diego
Project Director: Wendy Wilson
In November 2020, The Bonita Historical Society will presents Sine Kuwento, which in Tagalog means Film and Stories, an exhibition exploring the history of Philippine cinema delving into the progressive creativity of Filipino nationals, Filipino immigrants, and first-and second-generation Filipino Americans. The exhibit will include curated film production props used in some of the films made by the global Filipino filmmakers. The month-long programming will also include film screenings of films created by global Filipino filmmakers, panel discussions with Filipino American filmmakers, musical performances, and spoken word poetry by San Diego Filipino American artists. $5,000

rasgos asiáticos+
California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles
Project Director: Marissa Chibas
Beginning in March 2020, California Institute of the Arts and the Center for New Performance will present the world premiere of rasgos asiáticos, a play by Virginia Grise and directed by Misha Chowdhury at Automata Arts in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. rasgos asiáticos traces one woman’s history back four generations to discover a cast of Mexican runaways, Chinese refugees, and fiercely independent women trying to break free of binding gender roles. The premiere and subsequent performances of the play will be accompanied by a series of community-focused conversations and activities beginning in February 2020, that will highlight the issues presented in Grise’s work, including the complex intersections of cultures that have shaped California’s history. $5,000

Your Carr Fire Story: Written and Heard
Shasta County Arts Council, Shasta
Project Director: Kimberly Carlson
Hosted by the Shasta Arts Council, Your Carr Fire Story: Written and Heard is a five month writing workshop beginning in January 2020 for those affected by the Carr Fire, including survivors, evacuees, and first responders. Considered to be the seventh most destructive fire in California history, the Carr Fire of Shasta and Trinity County burned 229,651 acres, 1077 homes, and took seven lives. Your Carr Fire Story participants will gain tools to brainstorm, pre-write, and craft their personal narratives. Completed drafts will be workshopped in a safe, healing, positive room. In summer of 2020 facilitators and participants will hold a reading for the public at the McConnell Foundation. $5,000

Retablos: Student Matinees and Discussions*
Z Space, San Francisco
Project Director: JoAnne Winter
From February 19 to March 15, 2020, Word for Word Performing Arts Company, a critically and audience acclaimed program of Z Space San Francisco, will stage 14 chapters from renowned American playwright Octavio Solis’ memoir, Retablos: Stories from a Life Lived Along the Border. Four student matinées at the Z Below theater will include facilitated post-show discussions with Octavio Solis and other culture bearers. To inspire further thought, each student will leave with a humanities-based study guide addressing the historical, cultural, and sociological contexts of Retablos. $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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