As more cultural and humanities organizations across the state return to or strengthen their operations, Wyoming Humanities is proud to share that it has provided thousands of dollars in Spark Grants to a number of these organizations since March.
“This funding really can provide fantastic opportunities for both the humanities and the state,” said Shawn Reese, executive director of Wyoming Humanities. “The innovation behind these projects is exactly the reason we provide Spark Grants to Wyoming communities and non-profits.”
Projects are selected based on communities’ needs and programs designed to spark new insights and perspectives. Funding is provided through the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources. Grantees, who receive up to $2,000 with this opportunity, provide equal or greater matching funds and in-kind contributions. WYH grants generate significant social and economic impact five times greater than state funding.
The newest recipients are:
· Caldera Productions: Looking Through the Mirror – In the 1920s and ‘30s, the New Deal's Works Progress Administration hired out-of-work writers to create travel guides to all states. That Guide to Wyoming still rides on dashboards and desktops, but it needs an update to explore and reflect the old, the new, and the particular of today's Wyoming. The grant will fund the beginning logistics and coordination for this tremendous undertaking.
· Fort Laramie Virtual Writing Festival: Digital Experience with the Overland Trails – This collaboration from Fort Laramie National Historic Site and the Nebraska Writing Project will create a virtual writing festival in April. This project brings together educators and students from fifth grade through high school in Wyoming, Nebraska, and other states. It also features innovative language-arts activities tied to historic Fort Laramie and other locations along the Great Platte River Road.
· Haub School of Environmental & Natural Resources: Imagining Wyoming’s Future, A Youth Vision of 2030 – Youth often remain under-represented in discussions about Wyoming’s future. Because the humanities are critical to navigating present challenges and imagining livable, equitable futures, this project will help incentivize participation in a narrative contest for Wyoming high school students, who will be asked to imagine and describe life in Wyoming in the year 2030, elevating youth voices from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
· Queens Player Theatre Troupe: “Every Brilliant Thing” – This Laramie organization seeks to expand the Wyoming narrative by focusing on the theme of Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe’s play about a healthy viewpoint of suicide prevention. This play’s timely message of encouragement and is riddled with the purpose of discussion, and audiences may actively participate in the talk-back sessions with a humanities scholar, which also serve as an incubator for ideas from audience members. The production is scheduled for May.
· Relative Theatrics: Read, Rant Relate – Relative Theatrics of Laramie will continue its free play-reading series to ignite conversation through theatre. Following each play, a humanities scholar leads a discussion on the play’s themes and how they relate to Wyoming communities. The four productions tackle topics such as race relations, diversity, feminism, American values, heteronormativity, politics, culture, social justice, and, ultimately, voices that often go unheard. The first production takes place this month and continues through 2022.
· Sheridan Cultural Land Trust: The History of Dude Ranching – The project will help in the creation and installation of signage exploring dude ranching history in Sheridan County from 1900 to 2020. The signs will be presented at the SCLT Trailfest scheduled for June. The signage will provide information to the community on an important part of Wyoming and Sheridan County history, including the impact on tourism and the role women played in this history.
For more information about Wyoming Humanities and its grant programs, visit thinkwy.org.
About Wyoming Humanities
Wyoming Humanities is the Wyoming affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and is one of 55 state humanities councils. Conceived by a group of University of Wyoming leaders in 1970 and approved by the NEH in 1971. Its mission is to use the public humanities to strengthen Wyoming’s democracy, expand the Wyoming narrative, and promote engaged communities. Wyoming Humanities is an independent nonprofit funded by the NEH, a state legislative appropriation, corporate and foundation grants, and private donations.