Wyoming Humanities’ Cultural CARES Grants provide operating expense and salary support to Wyoming nonprofit organizations that support humanities and cultural projects and have suffered financial losses due to COVID-19. These grants provide immediate funds to libraries, museums, historical and cultural organizations, and other nonprofits that comprise Wyoming’s cultural and creative economy to help stabilize this sector. This funding enables these organizations to maintain essential functions and retain core personnel during this public health crisis with the goal of ensuring their future success. These important organizations allow our communities to thrive and engage with public history, cultural heritage, and civic learning during this unprecedented time.
“We knew the cultural sector would have a great demand for these funds,” said Shannon Smith, Executive Director and CEO of Wyoming Humanities, “but we were stunned when we received $590,000 in requests in five business days. Conversations with these organizations revealed stress and apprehension about the important summer months coming up and we are concerned that the funding we provided will barely scratch the surface of this sector’s financial issues.”
These grants are the first grant line of the Wyoming Crossroads Fund, an initiative to help Wyoming explore solutions to its imminent social and economic challenges resulting from the energy sector contraction—challenges that have been compounded by the pandemic. According to Wyoming Humanities COO, Shawn Reese, there is an urgent need to stabilize the institutions that tell our state’s stories, “To protect and preserve the cultural network that will help us diversify our economy and form grass-roots conversations about our current and future issues, we must shore up those organizations that are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Funding for these grants was provided by the NEH as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act national economic stabilization plan. Wyoming Humanities invested 100% of this federal funding into these grants going straight to communities in all parts of the state. “Like the funding we receive from the State of Wyoming, we charge no administration expenses and invest the entirety into the creative and cultural sector,” said CEO Smith, “we believe the cultural arts should be brought to Wyomingites through a carefully arranged blend of public and private resources. As a statewide nonprofit, we are able to leverage public funds—both state and federal—to raise private funds in order to serve Wyoming. As we continue to face the challenges ahead, we will work with our state’s leaders to ensure the creative economy can be a major part of Wyoming’s future.”
Wyoming Humanities is the Wyoming affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) 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, Wyoming Humanities is the oldest state humanities council. Their 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. Wyoming Humanities is headquartered in Laramie, WY with an office in the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts.