NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — Mass Humanities has announced it has awarded $713,876 in Expand Massachusetts Stories (EMS) grants to 42 cultural nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth, including to the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) and the Armenians of Whitinsville. The funded projects will surface new narratives about the people and ideas that shape Massachusetts.
NAASR was awarded $9,570 for its project, Exploring Hybrid Identities of Armenian-Americans in Mass. The project will support a series of public programs on Armenian-American identities and how they interact with the diverse community of Massachusetts.
The project will expand Massachusetts stories by encouraging and inviting members of the Armenian-American community in Massachusetts to share their voices and perspectives on the multiple facets of their identities and how they have been shaped through interactions with the broader, diverse Massachusetts community. Exploring hybrid Identities of Armenian-Americans in Massachusetts will encourage fruitful conversations and reflections on the importance of the diversity within the Armenian-American community and the overall Massachusetts population.
Armenians of Whitinsville was awarded $7,500 for its project Whitinsville Armenians, Stories Past to Present. The project will produce 10 to 15 oral history recordings from Armenians with ties to Whitinsville. The recordings will sit on the Armenians of Whitinsville project website alongside recently translated and subtitled recordings of Armenian Genocide survivors done in the 1970’s. They will also reside with the University of Southern California Center for Armenian Studies for research purposes.
The project will expand Massachusetts stories through oral histories that will explore issues around the diaspora, the transformation of the Armenian community of Whitinsville, and how their identity has changed over the last 130 years. If interested in contributing your story, please contact the project through email@example.com.
Rooted in Mass Humanities’ mission to create opportunities for the people of Massachusetts to transform their lives and build a more equitable Commonwealth, the new EMS initiative kicked off last year with support to projects across the state that included audio tours, documentary films, oral histories and public events. The new grant program will strive to promote an equitable and inclusive society that recognizes all people’s perspectives, especially those that have been marginalized and underrepresented.
This latest round of funding will continue to focus on projects that surface and share the histories and experiences of traditionally overlooked communities. “At this critical juncture in the history of our state, we see these projects as the sparks for a needed reimagining of our past and a new vision for our future,” said Brian Boyles, executive director of Mass Humanities. “We believe Massachusetts can only truly thrive when all residents participate in creating, learning and sharing the stories of Massachusetts.”
A non-profit based in Northampton, Mass Humanities provides grants to more than 200 organizations across the state each year. The EMS initiative provides up to $20,000 to nonprofit organizations.
The grants are made possible through Mass Humanities’ partnership with Mass Cultural Council, the state’s cultural agency, as well as a two-year, $700,000 partnership with the Barr Foundation that was announced in August.
In addition, Mass Humanities strived to fund projects led by members of the communities where the stories originate, and projects based in smaller organizations. Of the 42 grants, 62-percent have people who identify as BIPOC among their project leadership; 60-percent of the organizations funded have operating budgets under $500,000 and 48-percent have operating budgets under $350,000.
“To make lasting change, we need to respect and support the storytellers and storytelling spaces where traditions and narratives take root,” said Boyles. “We hope that these important voices and community-based organizations can lead the way in reckoning with our history.”