Mass Humanities awards $140K to Valley cultural organizations

  • Patrons enter the Jones Library in Amherst on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/23/2021 10:18:35 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Mass Humanities, the nonprofit group based in the city, has awarded over $140,000 in grants to eight cultural organizations in the Valley, in particular for projects aimed at telling the stories of Indigenous peoples, Latinx populations and other historically marginalized groups.

What’s known as the “Expand Massachusetts Stories” initiative will fund audio tours, documentary films, oral histories, and other public events hosted by organizations in Amherst, Ashfield, Hadley, Holyoke, Northampton, Springfield and Turners Falls.

Statewide, Mass Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has awarded more than $360,000 to cultural and arts groups as part of what the organization calls a “three-year effort to reexamine and reimagine the story of Massachusetts.”

“There is a much needed reckoning with history unfolding in our nation, and these grants represent our investment in that movement,” Brian Boyles, executive director of Mass Humanities, said in a statement.

In Holyoke, for instance, the city’s public library has received $15,632 to create an audio tour of Puerto Rican and Latinx neighborhoods, using family photos, audio recordings, and historical images. In addition, Nueva Esperanza, which creates community-based programming in the city, has been awarded just under $7,000 to develop walking tours focused on Puerto Rican and Latinx narratives in Holyoke.

In Amherst, the Jones Library has been awarded $20,000 to host the podcast “The Slave is Gone,” in which Pulitzer-winner poet Jericho Brown responds to Apple TV’s “Dickinson,” a comedy series on Emily Dickinson. And in Hadley, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum has received $19,030 for exhibits exploring the lives of Indigenous, enslaved, indentured, and day laborers on the historic rural site.

Programs in Ashfield and Turners Falls, meantime, have each been awarded $20,000 for programs that will examine the Native American experience in the region, including the Turner’s Fall Massacre of 1676 and the issue of how modern Native peoples have been made to appear as though they no longer exist.

“In this time when we face so much misinformation and division, the humanities help us recognize our differences and make connections between neighbors and generations,” said Boyles. “We want these projects to be seen by audiences across Massachusetts because they tell a much more complicated, vibrant story of our state.”

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at
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