Wyoming Humanities awards more Spark Grants this summer

In July and August, Wyoming Humanities awarded thousands of dollars in Spark Grants to six applicants.

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.

According to the Shawn Reese, the executive director of the organization, this funding provides opportunities for both the humanities and the state, particularly for innovative projects from non-profit organizations across Wyoming.

The newest recipients are:

Laramie Public Art Coalition: John McAmis’ animated short film, “Chaser,” demonstrates the animator’s belief that big stories do not have to be set in big cities. Upon completion, a film screening will take place in Laramie so residents can see their home in a new light, as a complex city in which big stories happen every day. It will be a space not only for the film to be screened, but for other stories to be told within the grand lineage of great Wyoming stories.

Queen’s Players Theatre Troupe: Using Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s work “White Rabbit/Red Rabbit,” the event will feature talk-back sessions on xenophobia in Wyoming with moderator Dr. Daniel Galbreath. Taking place in Albany County in October, this play asks the question of “Why do we continue to repeat the same behaviors without ever questioning past behaviors of our elders or institutions that want to control us?”   This is achieved by the audience’s interaction with emails and clips sent to the playwright.   This in-real-time-reflection serves as a reminder of the transformative power of theatre.  

Riverton Peace Mission: Focusing on the killing of Andy Antelope, a Northern Arapaho who was intoxicated and mentally ill, by a police officer at the Riverton Walmart last September, the “people’s theatre inquest” will be read before a live audience, using a script built from the investigation, written reports, and statements from humanities scholars Rodger McDaniel and L’Dawn Olsen.  The audience will be invited to give feedback through a facilitated discussion from various perspectives, such as religious, cultural, law enforcement, and mental health.

Rockpile Museum Association: The Dakota Daughters will present “Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890” in Gillette. This one-time Living History Performance uses the voices of three culturally diverse women who experience the same event, the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre, from different perspectives. This unique telling of historic events gives the audience the opportunity to hear from voices not often heard in American History – as women with stories through the lens of their respective cultures.  Donovin Sprague will moderate an audience talkback session that will allow guests to further contextualize the performance and these historical events.

Sankofa American Heritage Awareness: The 10th Annual Africa MAAFA Remembrance Day will take place in Cheyenne this October. The event reaches local, regional and statewide constituencies to help commemorate the remembrance and historical struggles of Africa and Africans descendants throughout the diaspora (MAAFA). Participants gather to explore the vast array of historical and current issues relating to the African and African American experience and their pioneer involvement with specific attention given to Wyoming and the region.

University of Wyoming:  Created by Dr. Jeff Lockwood and designed for children from 4 to 10 years old, the Critter Chronicles podcast is a new series of musically enrichened children’s stories to introduce the principles of environmental and social justice, through perspectives relevant to young lives. Available in Wyoming and anywhere podcasts can be accessed, these engaging stories are infused with original music and featuring a cast of diverse creatures must find ways to live together in community.

For more information about Wyoming Humanities and its grant programs, visit thinkwy.org.