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Notes from the 2012 Compliance Report

January 24, 2013 | By Federal/State Partnership Staff

Each year, every state humanities council is required to submit data and information to meet certain requirements contained in NEH’s legislation and to provide an overview of the year’s programs and statistics. This submission is very important to NEH, giving each state humanities council’s assurance that it complies with legislative requirements.

The yearly submission of compliance materials also provides Federal/State Partnership with critical statistical information that is used in a variety of reports and in annual congressional budget submissions. We are able to learn about the wide range of activities undertaken by the councils, as well as important information such as the extent of participation of humanities scholars and board composition and governance.

Compliance by the numbers:

This year, we saw an increased number of events reported by councils, 92,984, compared to 2011’s 80,923; however the councils’ total audience reached did decrease from 890,911,000 in 2011 to 793,335,412 in 2012. Councils also saw an increase to the number of applications for funding received: 5,373 in 2012 compared to 2011’s 5,246, which is not surprising considering available funding opportunities are more scarce in the current economic climate. The overall percentage of applications that were able to be funded decreased slightly this year to 62.83% over 63.59% from 2011. However, the total number of applications funded increased slightly in 2012 to a total of 3,376 funded over 2011’s 3,336.

Highlights of the reports:

Use of social media in daily operations

In last year’s compliance report, we noted a large increase in the number of councils who reported using various social media tools in interacting/working with their constituencies. That remains true this year. 50 councils reported using at least one social media tool in their compliance report. 42 councils reported social media usage in 2011.

These 50 councils reported using at least one or more methods of social networking to increase contact and communication with the communities they serve. Facebook still has the largest number of state council users, although more councils are starting to see Twitter as an effective way to reach their constituents, and many use it to help satisfy the legislative requirement for public meetings.

Social media anecdotally has also proven helpful in reaching greater numbers of people, especially in underserved areas in states, and has also proved helpful at increasing the participation of younger audiences who, in general tend to be more technologically adept and responsive to social networking.

Program decline and growth

Overall, the total number of events and programs sponsored or funded by councils rose from 80,923 in 2011 to 92,984 in 2012. However, total audience members reached decreased slightly.

Program numbers rise and fall each year, showing subtle shifts in focus for the councils. Last year, we noted the growth of discussion programs, in part based on the national focus, at NEH and in other outlets, that was given to civility and civil discourse. This year there was not necessarily one driving theme that gathers council programming together. The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War was one important focus, with many councils participating in the NEH sponsored program Making Sense of the Civil War, a scholar-led reading and discussion program. There was also more of a focus on localized, community or state-based projects seen in the rise of program numbers for library programs, preservation & access programs, and local history projects.

  • One great example of the kind of community based and driven project can be seen from the council in Indiana who was able to incorporate humanities programming in to this year's Super Bowl celebration and achieved high visibility for their council, while still maintaining a state-centric approach with programs.
  • Another good example is Minnesota American Indian Treaties project from the Minnesota Humanities Center. The project includes a traveling exhibit, website, and videos on the Dakota and Ojibwe treaties signed in the 1800’s that continue to affect Minnesota’s native population today.

Exhibits this year is the only program type with 100% across the board council participation in all 56 councils, a change from the 54 participating in 2011. Other program types that experienced growth were: technology, publications, library programs, conferences, preservation and access programs, and local history.

Awards of Note:

There were a total of 89 Awards reported from 35 of the councils, evenly mixed between national/international awards and regional awards.

Some of the National/International awards of note include:

Some of the Regional awards of note include:

  • The Arizona Humanities Council’s special initiative, Project Civil Discourse, received the Be More…Knowledgeable Award from EIGHT Arizona PBS. AHC was also a runner-up for EIGHT’s non-profit of the year.
  • Louisiana Cultural Vistas, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities' quarterly magazine, received four first place honors at the 53rd Annual Press Club of New Orleans Award Ceremony.
  • The Colonial Meetinghouses of New England, a book funded in part by Mass Humanities, received the Best Photography/Art Book of 2010 from the New England Book Festival.
  • The Michigan Humanities Council funded documentary Star By Star: the Poetry of Naomi Long Madgett received the 2011 Outstanding Documentary Award from the Historical Society of Michigan.
  • The New Hampshire Business and Industry Association awarded the New Hampshire Humanities Council's program Humanities To Go its 2011 New Hampshire Advantage Award to recognize its unique contributions to New Hampshire's cultural life through quality humanities programs.
  • Humanities Texas’ website redesign was awarded two Mitchell A. Wilder for Excellence in Publication and Media Design awards from the Texas Association of Museums.