The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced $40.3 million in new CARES Act economic stabilization grants to support essential operations at more than 300 cultural institutions across the country, including six organizations in Alaska.
NEH CARES grants, awarded across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, will help cultural organizations to retain staff to preserve and curate humanities collections, advance humanities research, and maintain buildings and core operations. A complete list of all 317 new NEH CARES grants is available here.
In Alaska, recipients include the Anchorage Museum Association, the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Museum of the North, the Haines Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center, the Pratt Museum in Homer, the Kodiak Historical Society, and the Unalaska Museum of the Aleutians.
“Over the past few months we have witnessed tremendous financial distress at cultural organizations across the country, which have been compelled to furlough staff, cancel programs, and reduce operations to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “NEH is pleased to provide $40 million to preserve thousands of jobs at museums, archives, historic sites, and colleges and universities that are vital to our nation’s cultural life and economy.”
In March, NEH received $75 million in supplemental grant funding through the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The agency already distributed $30 million of that funding to the 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils to support local cultural nonprofits and educational programming. Alaska's share of that funding was approximately $480,000; the Alaska Humanities Forum has managed and distributed those funds to 72 organizations across the state.
“The Forum is honored to be able to play a role in supporting organizations dedicated to preserving and sharing Alaska’s unique cultures and history and to engaging people in civic dialogue and meaningful conversation,” reflected the Forum’s President and CEO Kameron Perez-Verdia. “Together, we form a powerful network of libraries, museums, theaters, historical associations, media outlets, councils, and educational and tribal organizations. Our archives and exhibitions, resources, and public programming support access, education, and connection among people in communities across Alaska.”
Grantees have expressed overwhelming gratitude and relief for this funding, some able to piece together grants from a number of supporting agencies and sources, and others finding it difficult to find support available to arts and humanities organizations.
Jennifer Gibbins, Executive Director of the Pratt Museum in Homer, wrote, “On behalf of the Pratt Museum, we are delighted and so very appreciative of the COVID19 Emergency Relief grant. Like many museums, humanities and cultural organizations across the state, we are experiencing both serious challenges and new opportunities as a result of the pandemic. We are well positioned to succeed and your support is essential to helping us in these efforts.”
KUAC in Fairbanks, a media outlet that creates thought-provoking, trustworthy and life changing radio and television programming – “connecting Alaska to the world and the world to Alaska” - wrote, “This generous funding will help KUAC continue its essential, valuable news coverage and insightful, original local FM programming. Thank you for believing in and supporting public broadcasting!”
Robert Barr, Director of the Juneau Public Libraries, wrote to us about the Amazing Bookstore that provides the primary source of revenue for the Friends of the Library. This revenue stream has been eliminated with the bookstore being closed during the Covid-19 shut down for the safety and protection of its customers and volunteers, many of whom are older or in vulnerable groups. The bookstore has had no income during the shutdown, but still has monthly rent payments due which will impact the Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries’ ability to support library programs.
NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede reflected on the vitality of the funding in a statement in late March: “To the extent that healing is to come during and after this pandemic, it will be through humanities fields from philosophy to literature to history to religious studies—through the act of documenting, preserving, sharing, and reflecting— that our communities will move toward a greater sense of wholeness.”
Forum COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grantees:
49 Writers, Inc.
Alaska Aviation Museum
Alaska Children's Institute for the Performing Arts
Alaska Jewish Museum
Alaska Law Enforcement Museum
Alaska Native Heritage Center
Alaska Veterans Museum
Alaska Women Speak
Alutiiq Heritage Foundation
Anchorage Community Theatre
Anchorage Museum Association
Athabascan Fiddlers Association
Bethel Broadcasting, Inc. (KYUK)
Bethel Council on the Arts
Bristol Bay Historical Society
Bunnell Street Arts Center
Cape Decision Lighthouse Society
Capital Community Broadcasting (KTOO Public Media)
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies
Chapter 100 of Veterans for Peace
Clausen Memorial Museum
Cyrano's Theatre Company
Dena' Nena' Henash - Tanana Chiefs Conference
Denali Arts Council
Fairbanks Children's Museum First Alaskans Institute
Friends of the Homer Public Library
Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries
Haines Sheldon Museum
Hollis Public Library
Igiugig Tribal Library
JAMM (Juneau Alaska Music Matters)
Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center
Juneau Arts and Humanities Council
Juneau-Douglas City Museum
Kake Tribal Heritage Foundation
Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council
Koahnic Broadcast Corporation
Kodiak Historical Society
Kodiak Maritime Museum
KUAC Friends Group
Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center
Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry
Museum of the Aleutians
Perseverance Theatre, Inc.
Pioneer Air Museum
Sealaska Heritage Institute
Sitka Historical Society, Inc.
Spirit of Youth
Story Works Alaska
Talkeetna Historical Society
Terminal Radio Inc (KCHU)
The Arete Project
University of Alaska Museum of the North
University of Alaska Press
Valdez Museum & Historical Archive
Wrangell Cooperative Association
Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association