The Alaska Humanities Forum is in a unique position as a recipient of grants, donations, and federal funding and also as a funder of public humanities programs and projects across Alaska.  In both roles, the statewide nonprofit organization is experiencing the impact of COVID-related closures and cancellations firsthand, seeking ways to adapt and innovate its own programming and also looking for ways to support partners across the state by providing essential funding.

A portion of the $75 million received by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the CARES Act economic stabilization plan will go directly to the 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils to assist affected cultural institutions and organizations.  As Alaska’s state humanities council, the Alaska Humanities Forum is honored to distribute and administer Alaska’s share of funding for emergency-relief grants for local cultural nonprofits to be used for sustaining operational expenses.

“The Alaska Humanities Forum’s vision is a culturally diverse, economically vibrant, and equitable Alaska where people are engaged, informed, and connected,” explains its President and CEO Kameron Perez-Verdia. “During times of uncertainty and crisis, our immediate priorities may shift, but our prevailing vision remains steadfast. The Forum is honored to be able to play a role in ensuring that organizations across the state dedicated to preserving and sharing our unique cultures and history and to engaging people in civic dialogue and meaningful conversation remain solvent.”

The Forum is grateful to Alaska’s congressional delegation for its support of this funding and also to the NEH for working to ensure that these vital funds reach “large and small cultural organizations, as well as educators, curators, scholars, filmmakers, and other humanists” through its partnership with the state humanities councils and also through its own direct grants “to help sustain the $878-billion arts and cultural economic sector, which accounts for 4.5 percent of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).” (https://www.neh.gov/news/neh-receives-75-million-distribute-cultural-institutions-affected-coronavirus)

NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede said in a statement released at neh.gov: “It is through the humanities that we rediscover generation after generation ‘the better angels of our nature,’ to quote President Lincoln from another time of turmoil. Indeed, it is through the humanities that we preserve such words—and, on our best days, embody them. 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.”

The Forum has been working to review statewide survey data from the Foraker Group and Alaska State Museums, along with descriptions provided by individual organizations, to determine where the need is greatest and what type of support will make the greatest impact.  Early results indicate significant loss from cancellations that have impacted ticket sales, tours, workshops, educational programs, venue rentals, events, fee for service work, and camps. 

Applications for the Forum’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grants are now open for those organizations with a demonstrated commitment to public humanities and/or cultural or civic programming – including, but not limited to, historical societies, libraries, cultural centers, literary groups, museums, educational organizations, historical preservation groups, and media groups that report on culture. 

Grants of up to $10,000 will be available to cover operational costs and financial duress caused by COVID-19 closures and cancellations, and the resulting loss of earned revenue.  Eligible applicants include Alaska nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and federally recognized tribal organizations. 

For details about the application process and to apply online, please visit akhf.org/grants

For questions, please contact Jann Mylet, Director of Development and Communications at jmylet@akhf.org.

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