Governor Evers has proclaimed October 2020 Arts and Humanities Month in Wisconsin.
The proclamation states, in part:
"Whereas in 2020, we have needed the arts and humanities more than ever ⎯ to creatively deal with the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide cultural context for issues of racial equity and social justice, to foster cultural understanding and community healing, and to successfully reopen and sustain our local and state economies;
"Now, therefore, I, Tony Evers, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, do hereby proclaim October 2020 as Arts and Humanities Month throughout the State of Wisconsin and I commend this observance to all our state's residents."
What are 'the arts' and 'the humanities?'
It has been more than seven months since the pandemic began impacting our lives and economy. We believe the arts and humanities are always important, but we are especially committed to making them accessible now. For everyone in the state.
Over the summer, Wisconsin Humanities awarded $548,000 CARES Relief Grants to 82 nonprofit humanities and cultural organizations all over Wisconsin to help counter financial hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We know those grants could not fix all problems, but we also know they helped during tough times. Stories from some of the CARES Relief Grant recipients show just how hard people are working to keep our state's cultural treasures stable, safe, and useful. We share some of these stories here.
Why do the arts and humanities matter now?
When the governor issued his proclamation, we reached out to some of our colleagues working in the cultural sector around the state. We asked them to share why the arts and humanities are so important. We found inspiration in their very personal and timely responses, so we are sharing a few below.
We'd love to hear from you: Why do the arts and humanities matter?
“The arts and humanities matter today because they always matter. Nevertheless, during these tumultuous times their importance is thrown into greater relief. While the exact sciences are unrivaled in their ability to reveal objective facts about the universe, they are curiously silent when it comes to values and norms. This is the domain of the arts and humanities, arenas that celebrate the human experience, where the individual offers insight into the universal, where we come to understand ourselves through the experience of others.”
– J Tyler Friedman, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, 2020 Wisconsin Humanities Major Grant recipient
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the stay-at-home entertainment that has been getting many of us through this pandemic: books, films, tv shows. These are all forms of storytelling, a basic means to share our human experiences. The ways in which we have all turned to forms of storytelling in this time speaks to the real centrality of the humanities in our lives.”
– Beth Zinsli, Lawrence University Assistant Professor of Art History & Curator of the Wriston Art Center Galleries, 2018 Wisconsin Humanities Mini Grant recipient
"Poetry was a lifeline for me in my teens and twenties. The voices of Adrienne Rich, Maya Angelou, Gary Snyder, and so many others echoed and amplified the yearnings of my young heart, and helped me envision a path forward. As I grew older, I let the demands of work and family crowd out the quiet, private time needed to read, digest, and sit with a poem. I didn’t realize how I’d missed that experience until this summer, when I began tuning into the live poetry readings hosted online by the Wisconsin Academy. At first I was listening in to support my colleague, who has valiantly organized these readings amid the chaos of his work-at-home life. But I found myself looking forward to each week’s reading, drawn in by the poets’ humor, intelligence, and wisdom, and wanting more. In this tumultuous, traumatic year, carving out time for poetry has become, once again, both a great pleasure and a pure necessity."
– Jody Clowes, Director of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letter's James Watrous Gallery in Madison, 2019 Wisconsin Humanities Major Grant recipient
"Through learning about each other's cultures and sharing our traditions we are reminded that individuality is rooted in shared experiences that are firmly placed within the arts and humanities.
"One function of Latino Arts, Inc. is to create space for authentic cultural experiences for our own Hispanic communities so they can stay connected or reconnect to cultural traditions. We believe that enables us to engage in cultural bridge building for non-Hispanic communities to invite open and respectful conversation to dispel stereotypes and prevent cultural appropriation. While our celebrations are rooted in the cultural arts, they serve as a catalyst for shared human experience which is firmly placed in humanities studies.
"As we form diverse communities aiming to raise above hateful rhetoric and cartooned depictions that only serve to “other” and disenfranchise underserved communities, we are embolden by our cultural heritage that anchor us to something greater than uneducated opinions and stereotypes. I maintain as a personal and professional value that individuality is a plural concept that converges a variety of societal, cultural, and personal experiences along with ethnicity into a sense of self that is placed between how we are perceived by society at large and our personal understanding of who we are."
– Jacobo Lovo, Managing Artistic Director at Latino Arts, Inc. in Milwaukee, 2020 Wisconsin Humanities Major Grant recipient