SouthArts Announces the In These Mountains: Infrastructure Grant Recipients!

From SouthArts –

Three organizations have been awarded $30,000 each to support the continuity of the folk arts and traditional culture of Central Appalachia.

South Arts is pleased to announce the inaugural recipients of the In These Mountains: Infrastructure Grants. Three organizations—The Southeast Kentucky African-American Museum and Cultural Center in Hazard, KY; Quilt Alliance in Asheville, NC; and The Appalachian Rekindling Project in Knoxville, TN—are receiving $30,000 grants to advance their work in supporting the folk arts and traditional culture of Central Appalachia.

“These Infrastructure Grants are a unique opportunity to support projects normally outside the purview of funders,” said Teresa Hollingsworth, South Arts’ Director of Traditional Arts. “These three organizations are stewards of the traditions and communities they serve, and we are proud to help them increase their capacity with these grants.”

Established in 2018, the In These Mountains initiative supports the work of traditional artists and culture bearers as well as organizations located in the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) counties of Kentucky, North Carolina, or Tennessee with a wide series of programming and opportunities. Designed to support the continuity of the folk arts and traditional culture among the region, the Infrastructure Grants aim to supplement non-programming expenses that are often not fundable by most grants or are financially out of reach for organizations.

This year’s grant recipients will use their Infrastructure Grants in numerous ways, aligning with the mission of the program by enriching, preserving and propelling the traditional arts and culture of the region. From telling the untold stories of African Americans in Southeast Kentucky, to building communications through the North Carolinian quilting communities, and fostering cultural preservation stewarded by Indigenous and First Nations communities with Indigenous-led cultural exchanges across the US and Canada, the three organizations offer unique approaches to their projects with a united focus on healing and restoring Indigenous arts and traditions among their communities.

The supported projects are:

Appalachian Community Fund on behalf of the Appalachian Rekindling Project

Knoxville, TN

The Project will utilize ITM Infrastructure funds to invest in infrastructure to support cultural exchange through Indigenous-led site visits to successful land rematriation and cultural preservation spaces stewarded by Indigenous and First Nations communities across the US and Canada. These resources would facilitate participatory research activities including co-creating conceptual frameworks connecting renewed reciprocal relationships to lands and waters while redressing cultural losses and equity gaps facing dispossessed groups. Additional funds would support gathering qualitative data through hosting virtual and in-person talking circles, focus groups and arts-based inquiry with intergenerational knowledge holders in Appalachian Indigenous communities to validate framework themes addressing cultural losses. Investments would also build communications infrastructure to responsibly disseminate insights, including online interactive storytelling spaces curating community narratives, hosting public webinars with movement leaders advancing structural transformations, coordinating meetings with funders and other institutions to compel investment shifts, and designing participatory monitoring tools tracking future shifts in policy and perception.

Southeast Kentucky African-American Museum and Cultural Center

Hazard, KY

SEKYAAMCC will use ITM Infrastructure funds to visit museums to meet with staff and learn about their operation processes and techniques including: The Speed Museum (Louisville, Ky), the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (Cincinnati, OH); National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, DC); Museum of African American Music (Nashville, TN). SEKYAAMCC will also travel and meet with archivists at Appalshop, Berea College, Western Kentucky University, and others. The funds will support publication of brochures and marketing items; QuickBooks and Microsoft Office software, and website maintenance and IT support. In addition ITM support will be used for staff and board professional development for fundraising, archiving, media production, exhibit planning; and planning support of the first History Speaks Summer Camp during June and July 2024. With this award, they will help preserve African-American heritage in Southeast Kentucky, telling untold stories and reinserting them into local history.

Quilt Alliance

Asheville, NC

With this award, QA will improve communication with quilters and non-quilters through print and online materials, educational booths at community events, and oral history documentation. The grant will also support professional development and conference and registration for board and staff to increase skills in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and current oral history best practice. Staff fieldwork is also included in the budget to allow for follow-up research in the Appalachian communities served in 2023. Emergency readiness and accessibility tools and services round out the much-needed infrastructure support provided by the grant. This grassroots effort celebrates quiltmakers’ stories and preserves their work in an archive.

Read more aboout the In These Mountains Infrastructure Grant Recipiants here: