Iowa City’s newly reopened Hancher Auditorium announced today that it is one of four recipients of a Building Bridges: Arts, Culture and Identity Individual Grant. The Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) awarded five Building Bridges grants earlier this year: four to individual organizations and one to a consortium. The Building Bridges program, co-funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA), aims to “deepen the relationships between diverse Muslim and non-Muslim communities,” according to an APAP press release.
The Hancher project, Embracing Complexity, will receive $204,000 in funding. All projects funded this round will span 2016-2019. Embracing Complexity will explore these topics in a multidisciplinary effort. Hancher will bring in several artists-in-residence, both visual and performing, over the course of the two years. The project will also, according to a press release from Hancher, “document and explore the experiences of Muslims in Eastern Iowa through sharing of local stories and oral histories.”
“Our goal is to build textured knowledge of Islamic cultures, while creating a greater sense of empathy for the experiences of peoples of diverse racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds,” Jacob Yarrow, Hancher’s director of programming, said in the release. “We believe this is an urgent program at this moment.”
The Building Bridges program has a particular focus on young people. According to their website, “The overarching goal of this program is to increase cross-cultural knowledge and understanding by engaging young people and other audiences in performances and interdisciplinary activities that focus on arts and culture that has roots in contemporary Muslim-majority regions of the world.” The grantees’ primary focus is expected to be millennials, which they define as those born after 1980.
Hancher is joined in this endeavor by fellow grant recipients Fine & Performing Arts Center, Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL; Moss Arts Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA; and Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College, Easton, PA. A consortium grant was awarded to Midnimo (Somali for “unity”), a joint program of the Cedar Cultural Center with Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN; Department of Music Performance Series, Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN; and Paramount Center for the Arts with St. Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, MN.