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September 2013

the latest from Suite 603

September 24, 2013

The Generosity of Numbers

A portion of the Kansas Humanities Council's infographic about the impact of THE WAY WE WORKED exhibition in Kansas. For the complete infographic, click on the image.
 
Numbers by Mary Cornish
In Mississippi "success comes in different measures"
Cultural Data Project: using data and research for the public humanities
Knowing the numbers, the Wisconsin Humanities Council fine-tunes its programming
The way TWWW worked in Kansas
Mass Humanities studies its work
"How can we model the behavior we seek to inspire?" State humanities councils, age, gender, and race

* The 2013 Humanities Report Card uses numbers to show the value of the humanities, signs of sector health, and challenges.
* Check out councils' numbers. Review the 2013 compliance plan reports.
* The North Dakota Humanities Council is holding writing workshops in the western oil fields.
* The Guam Humanities Council received $10,000 from The Cultural Conservancy to present I Tano yan I Tasi, Land and Sea—Ecological Literacy on the US Pacific Island of Guam at the Bioneers Conference.
* Read David McCullough's stirring Nebraska Governor's Lecture in the Humanities, delivered just nine days after the 9/11 attacks.

Numbers by Mary Cornish

"I like the generosity of numbers. / The way, for example, / they are willing to count / anything or anyone:" —from Numbers by Mary Cornish (click on the image for a video of Numbers)

In Mississippi "success comes in different measures"

A MHC minigrant for a program on dogs in ancient Greece helped a classics department gain a third classicist. British Museum number 1843,1103.62
A MHC minigrant for a program on dogs in ancient Greece helped a classics department gain a third classicist. British Museum number 1843,1103.62

Barbara Carpenter, Executive Director of the Mississippi Humanities Council, writes that, "Every year the MHC Compliance Report gives statistics about attendance and outreach. Every year when it is submitted, the staff gets a message back from Federal/State Partnership questioning the statistics, which are indeed astounding. The figures are, however, well documented. The numbers are boosted enormously by MHC’s affiliation with Mississippi Public Broadcasting, as our "Mississippi Moments" and other radio spots reach thousands weekly. Traveling exhibits also add thousands, as do festivals and conferences.

MHC also consciously supports programs unlikely to draw large crowds. In a small Delta town with only a couple hundred residents, the dozen people who show up need meaningful programs. Sometimes impact cannot be anticipated: the project director of a recent minigrant to Mississippi State University for a classics department program on dogs in ancient Greece told us that the widespread attention it drew was essential to the department’s ability to persuade the university to fund a third classics position—making MSU one of the few universities in the country to have three classicists. Recently a project director of a Museum on Main Street exhibition called to ask what degrees MHC staff members held because her college-bound granddaughter wanted to study what would allow her to work for a humanities council. Success comes in different measures."

Cultural Data Project: using data and research for the public humanities

by Mimi Ijimama, Pennsylvania Humanities Council; Lauren Kushnick, New York Council for the Humanities; and Flo Gardner, Cultural Data Project. Read the full article. The Cultural Data Project offers a powerful online management tool that strengthens the arts and cultural sector with sophisticated reporting tools while gathering reliable and comprehensive data that grantmakers, researchers, and advocates can use to support the sector. The councils in California, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island participate in CDP as grantmakers.

The New York Council for the Humanities uses CDP reports to gauge its grant applicants’ programming capacity and financial health. The applicant pool data is then used to advocate for the NYCH's impact in New York's broader cultural sector. The council is now able to showcase the diversity of its grants by geography, operating budget, and organization type. In addition, NYCH funded six Arts & Research grants that use the CDP as a primary source, an initiative made possible by an NEH Chairman's Grant. Jane McNamara, Director of Grants and Programs, calls this grant "an important vote of confidence" that allowed for a focus on "data related to humanities based impacts (not just arts)."

Partnering with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council is putting figures on the scope and contributions of the state’s humanities sector to make a case for wider public support. With GPCA’s know-how, the PHC will define what humanities organizations are, count them, and pinpoint where they are. Using data gathered by means of CDP, it will then examine their economic impact. The data will then be mapped by federal legislative district.

In conjunction with the Federation conference, on November 7 the PA and NY councils along with the CDP are hosting a workshop on how data and research can advance the public humanities. Interested in attending? Please contact Lauren or Mimi.

Knowing the numbers, the Wisconsin Humanities Council fine-tunes its programming

Image courtesy of the Wisconsin Humanities Council
Image courtesy of the Wisconsin Humanities Council

by Dena Wortzel, Executive Director,Wisconsin Humanities Council.
The Wisconsin Humanities Council devoted considerable staff time to in-depth analysis of where its service has been located. We collated a decade of data from multiple sources about every WHC-funded program down to the event level, and worked with the University of Wisconsin Applied Population Lab to produce maps and tables representing every event for the years 2000-2009. We appended data from the U.S. Census in order to examine such things as the sizes and incomes of the communities served.

The maps and associated information were used to perform a gap analysis of WHC's statewide service and to identify counties meriting additional attention. We confirmed our belief that Madison was "overserved" because of the Wisconsin Book Festival there. As the result, the WHC made the major decision to hand it off to the Madison Public Library. Gap analysis also showed that, at one time, our Speakers Bureau reached the state in ways that no other program did. It had also served as an entry point for organizations that became grant applicants in far greater numbers than we ever suspected. Read more >>

The way TWWW worked in Kansas

Over 450 Kansans volunteered for THE WAY WE WORKED
Over 450 Kansans volunteered for THE WAY WE WORKED

"This one little project created $4,284 [of] economic impact in Eureka." —Greenwood Preservation Society

The Way We Worked in Kansas, a statewide initiative from the Kansas Humanities Council, reached Kansans through programs and projects highlighting the diversity of the American workforce. It featured The Way We Worked exhibition from the Museum on Main Street. Audio tours from the six host towns are online.

In addition to the exhibition sites, fifteen organizations focused on the theme of work. The Kansas Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau highlighted workers and work through free presentations. The 2013 selection for All Kansas Reads featured Then We Came to the End, a novel about office life by new author Joshua Ferris.

The Way We Worked initiative also helped preserve a town's work history ... read more >>

Mass Humanities studies its work

Graduation time for a Mass Humanities' Clemente Course. Photo courtesy of Mass Humanities
Graduation time for a Mass Humanities' Clemente Course. Photo courtesy of Mass Humanities
Mass Humanities has carried out two major analyses of its work. In 2010 the outcomes-based evaluation of its grant program. Among other areas examined, this study analyzed where MH had made its grants and the kinds of funds and in-kind services the grants had leveraged. It found that grants achieve reach, breadth, and diversity not possible through council-conducted programs.

A longitudinal evaluation of the Clemente Course covered those taught from 2006-2011 in three cities. This study was largely responsible for Mass Humanities' success in securing a $425,000 NEH Challenge Grant.

In his book Riches for the Poor, Earl Shorris, founder of the Clemente course, wondered whether graduates "would ... become a part of the public world? Citizens? Would they exercise their legitimate power? Would they continue to live reflectively rather than reactively?" Mass Humanities' study provides a "definitive 'Yes.'" Three or more years after graduating, alumni "gave examples of how they had continued to improve their own lives and the quality of life for their families, friends and communities." A second five-year assessment will begin in 2014.

"How can we model the behavior we seek to inspire?" State humanities councils, age, gender, and race

Four generations of an Irish, Catholic, straight, Italian, African-Caribbean, agnostic, lesbian, African-American, European, Jewish, Episcopal, Philadelphia-based family. Photo courtesy of the family of Dr. Margaretta Tyre Bigley
Four generations of an Irish, Catholic, straight, Italian, African-Caribbean, agnostic, lesbian, African-American, European, Jewish, Episcopal, Philadelphia-based family. Photo courtesy of the family of Dr. Margaretta Tyre Bigley
 

The largest age sector of the U.S. population is the 18-44 cohort and the fastest growing is 45-64. The median age is 37.2 and the male to female ratio is 96.7 men to every 100 women.The United States is 63 percent White, 17 percent Hispanic, 12 percent Black, and 8 percent "other," a category that includes Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Aleutians, Eskimos, and persons of two or more races. The youngest state is Utah and the oldest is Maine.

With the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, and nine other western states, the country is predominantly female, although only slightly. Of those states, one has heard say that, from a woman’s perspective, "while the odds are good, the goods are odd." The male to female ratio of the United States is 96.7 men to every 100 women.

State humanities councils, along with most nonprofits and other organizations, contend with issues of race, age, and gender. Faced with the task of serving the population of a state or jurisdiction, councils are sometimes hard-pressed to define their audiences.

The reality is that the majority of councils have been most successful reaching audiences of educated, economically stable older women. Reaching men, at least those of ages commensurate with councils' women audiences, will be important for the future because the 2010 census revealed that the longevity of men aged 60-74 has increased significantly. Young people—children, tweens, and teenagers—seem to prove easier to reach than young adults. In general, unless those in their 20s and 30s have low reading skills, they are quite likely to be the demographic least served by state humanities councils. This is especially true for parents.

The full article of which this is a synopsis includes national and state demographic information and is available from the Federal/State Partnership Resource Library. It includes specific demographic information that nine humanities councils encounter. These states and the District of Columbia have been somewhat randomly selected but represent most parts of the country. The summaries are organized from the District, which has the youngest median age of this group, to West Virginia, which has the oldest. Of some interest is the fact that three adjoining states have been included: Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The fact that they are neighbors makes for interesting comparisons. The other states are Arizona, Alabama, Iowa, and Oregon.

Read more >>
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This series is based on the Federation of State Humanities Councils' 2013 conference theme of inclusion. It surveys the challenges the 56 councils face as they confront such issues as geography, educational and cultural resources, audiences, and philanthropy in their work.

 

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