IllinoisHumanities

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Over the next three years (2020-2022), Illinois Humanities will commission local artists and humanists to create new work that responds to and grapples with mass incarceration in impacted communities and will develop an interactive digital tool that people throughout the state can use to spark conversation, exploration, and action within their own communities.

Grantmaking is a critical component of Envisioning Justice. Through the Envisioning Justice grants program, Illinois Humanities plans to partner with groups throughout the state to use the arts and humanities to spark statewide conversations about the impact of mass incarceration as well as to envision a truly just society.

ENVISIONING JUSTICE GRANTS will support projects that:

  • spark dialogue about the impacts of mass incarceration on Illinois communities
  • offer public programming with a particular focus on the experiences and points of view of system-impacted individuals and communities
  • aim to shift the narrative around mass incarceration by connecting the arts and humanities with public policy
  • aid in network-building and nurturing partnerships amongst groups and individuals working to envision and actualize a truly just society.

The three grant categories support work happening at the local, grassroots level in the arts, humanities, and related areas, as well as by policy and other groups that harness the arts and humanities to explore fresh ideas. We look forward to seeing proposals from organizations of any size.

Additionally, Illinois Humanities will commission eight (8) Illinois artists and twelve (12) Illinois humanists.

ENVISIONING JUSTICE ARTIST & HUMANIST COMMISSIONS support work that:

  • sparks dialogue about the impacts of mass incarceration on Illinois communities
  • portrays or otherwise renders visions of a world without prisons
  • is driven by a particular focus on the experiences and points of view of system-impacted individuals and communities
  • aims to shift the narrative around mass incarceration by connecting the arts and humanities with public policy
  • aids in the network-building and partnerships amongst groups and individuals working to envision and actualize a truly just society.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For Grants:

What is the grant application process?

The process is relatively straightforward. Simply submit an application using the form for the Envisioning Justice grant category you are interested in applying for. You will be asked to describes who you are, what you plan to do, how you plan to carry it out, and how support from Illinois Humanities would help make it possible. We encourage you to contact us with questions or ideas well before the stated grant deadlines.

How long will projects be given?

Illinois Humanities is flexible about this. In general, Illinois Humanities grants are paid out in one payment, and are active for one year. However, we are happy to discuss possibilities with you if an extension is required.

Is this a one-time grants program?

These are one-time grants. Illinois Humanities intends to offer Envisioning Justice grants again in 2021, and applicants are welcome to submit additional or repeat proposals again at that time.

Can we apply to more than one of the Envisioning Justice grant categories?

Yes, you can apply to more than one category, however, you will only be awarded one grant. Also, please be sure to pay attention to the geographic requirements for the Envisioning Justice Place-Based Grants and Justice Dialogue Grants. However, organizations from the specific communities for these grants are encouraged to apply for Envisioning Justice Action Grants for larger projects requiring more than $2,500 in funding support.

For Artist and Humanist Commissions:

What is the application process to become a Commissioned Artist or a Commissioned Humanist through Envisioning Justice?

Submit an application that describes who you are, what you plan to do, how you plan to carry it out, and how support from Illinois Humanities would help make it possible. Additionally, submit relevant work samples and other requested materials.

How long will Commissioned Artist and Humanist projects be given to be completed?

Projects and affiliated instructional prompts should be completed by the end of June 2021. Please bear this in mind as you create your proposal.

How will commissioned works be shared or displayed?

Commissioned works will be shared on the Illinois Humanities/Envisioning Justice websites and other platforms, including a digital “Activation Kit” designed to spark reflection, conversation, and action around the injustices and impacts of mass incarceration. Each commissioned work will be accompanied by an instructional prompt that viewers can carry out in order to engage critically and creatively with the conversation around ending mass incarceration. Additionally, commissioned works may be displayed in physical locations throughout Illinois in 2022.

This commission includes a request for the artist or humanist to create an “instructional prompt.” What does this mean and what is it for?

Over the course of the past 3-4 years, Illinois Humanities staff has met with, collaborated with, listened to, and learned from dozens of organizations and thousands of individuals impacted by mass incarceration to understand the strategies, actions, and visions being manifested in local communities that respond to what Illinoisans overwhelmingly agree is a broken and biased system. We’ve been awed by the imagination, resilience, compassion, and courage people are showing to confront deep injustice and to propose strategies toward liberation. It is one of Illinois Humanities’ greatest goals to uplift and share the word and work of our partners, grantees, collaborators, and commissioned artists and humanists so that all can behold the landscape of activity across the state in pursuit of a truly just society for all Illinoisans. It is also our goal to inspire Illinoisans to dig deeper on their own.

The Envisioning Justice Activation Kit, which will be curated and compiled by Illinois Humanities, will be composed of “prompts” created by artists, humanists, and organizers based off of their own projects and practices. Viewers will select a prompt and follow its instructions in order to spark dialogue, reflection, or action around the impacts of mass incarceration and visions of true justice in their own communities. Once completed, participants can upload the results of their experience back to the digital platform so that viewers can see the ripple effect of each instructional prompt.

What can commissioning funds be used to support?

A portion of funds should directly support the Commissioned Artist or Humanist. Remaining funds can support materials, equipment, rentals, collaborator fees, and/or fabrication costs.

How will Commissioned Artists & Humanists be selected?

Illinois Humanities is overseeing this commissioning process, and an advisory committee has been assembled to assess proposals and applications.

What are the humanities?

The humanities are the examination of what it means to be human through the interpretation and discussion of all forms of thought, interest, and expression. Illinois Humanities values traditional humanities disciplines, such as art history, literature, history, and philosophy. However, our emphasis on the public humanities means that we look at the humanities as more than a set of academic disciplines. For us, the public humanities are a mode of inquiry and conversation that aims to engage, support, or challenge the ideas, beliefs, tensions, and prejudices of the communities in which we live. We believe that important thought can and does happen outside the academy — in neighborhood institutions, schools, churches, and at kitchen tables across the country. We are also especially interested in instances of the public humanities that promote civic engagement.

Does your organization have a working definition of the public humanities? Share it with us– we’re eager to explore how others are addressing this complex question.

What do we mean by “humanist”?

By this definition, the term “humanist” refers to applicants with a background in humanities disciplines, whether through professional experience or formal/academic training. More specifically, we are looking for those whose work utilizes humanists methods of inquiry to address questions related to the injustices of mass incarceration. At Illinois Humanities we say that while a scientist is charged with asking, “Is this scientific advancement possible? a humanist’s task is to ask, “Is it a wise pursuit for humankind?” Similarly, Envisioning Justice seeks applicants who see the potential in the public humanities as a forum for exploration, conversation, and active engagement toward a just society, and whose work to date demonstrates a commitment to the humanities as an important component in this pursuit.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the grants categories, commission opportunities, the type of work that will be funded, and completing an application reach out to Tyreece Williams, Project Manager, Envisioning Justice, at tyreece.williams@ilhumanities.org.

Please sign-up for the Envisioning Justice Digest and the Illinois Humanities newsletter to get the latest updates about Envisioning Justice and our other programs and grant opportunities.

You can see past Envisioning Justice grantee projects here.