FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
City of Asylum Awarded $100,000 Humanities Access Challenge Grant from NEH
City of Asylum’s Global Literary Programming Recognized by National Endowment for the Humanities
PITTSBURGH, PA —The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced that City of Asylum will be one of 34 organizations to receive an award in the NEH’s first-ever Humanities Access Grant program. This award of $100,000 will provide City of Asylum with two years of match-based funding and will support City of Asylum’s core multi-cultural literary and humanities programming as well as its community outreach.
Humanities Access Grants help support humanities programs that benefit youth, communities of color, and economically disadvantaged populations. City of Asylum was among the few non-academic institutions to receive this prestigious award, a testament to both of the quality of City of Asylum’s programs and the effectiveness of its outreach to the diverse residents of its community.
THe NEH award supports programs that bring community members together to engage directly with authors, journalists, and public intellectuals in extensive Q & A and moderated public discussions to create “a vision of a possible future.” All City of Asylum programs are free to the public.
“NEH Humanities Access grants were mainly awarded to universities and museums,” said Silvia Duarte, City of Asylum’s Assistant Director. “The offer of this grant speaks to the high caliber of our literary-based humanities programs, as well as the access we provide to the diverse communities of Pittsburgh.“
Three of the thirty-four NEH awards were for Western Pennsylvania organizations, which recognizes the variety and strength of local humanities programs and their commitment to outreach. Other Western Pennsylvania recipients of NEH funding this cycle include Chatham University and Slippery Rock University.
The NEH Humanities Access Grant and will provide City of Asylum the opportunity to:
- Increase existing humanities programming to 24 programs per year.
- Add 12 new annual programs focused on specific topics of cultural importance.
- Continue to attract writers and literary thought-leaders from all over the world.
- Further its mission to build a community in which creative free expression is exercised, celebrated and defended as a basic human right in a democratic society.
The timing of this award coincides with the opening of City of Asylum’s new facility, City of Asylum @ Alphabet City. Formerly the site of the historic Masonic Building, it is located on the Garden Theater block of Pittsburgh’s Northside. The $12.5 million project culminates eight years of work by City of Asylum to establish the Northside and Pittsburgh as a global cultural hub and expand appreciation of other cultures.
For more information, contact:
City Of Asylum
ABOUT CITY OF ASYLUM
Since 2004, City of Asylum has provided sanctuary for exiled writers endangered in their native lands. In a row of Northside homes, whose facades are covered with texts in many languages, City of Asylum provides the writers with stipends and the support to become self-sustaining and engaged members of the community. Building on that mission, City of Asylum has grown into a dynamic arts organization that has showcased over 300 writers, artists and musicians from 63 different countries. In 2016 it presented over 70 programs to diverse audiences of over 5,000 people. City of Asylum’s hallmark is accessibility and diversity, and all performances were free to the public. City of Asylum is also the U.S. headquarters for the International Cities of Refuge Network.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2016 – Alexandria, VA – National Arts Strategies is pleased to announce the participation of 50 exceptional leaders in the fourth and final class of The Chief Executive Program. The Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture brings together an international cohort of 50 CEOs who are working to lead change in their organizations, communities and in the cultural field.
The selected executives come from outstanding institutions of all sizes and disciplines. They are united by the presence of deep community roots. They are working on initiatives such as creating new narratives on rural culture and supporting, advancing and developing Pacific Island media content – and so much more.
Over the next year, these executives will be supported in their work through the introduction of different approaches from outside their sector, a range of analytical frameworks and an international, cross-disciplinary network of allies and collaborators. They will travel to Harvard Business School and University of Michigan, Ross School of Business where they’ll be introduced to tools they can use year after year to help put their great ideas into action. They will work with and learn from each other, forming a community of practice as they join The Chief Executive Program alumni network of nearly 200. They will continuously explore, reflect upon, apply and share all that they are learning.
Participants in The Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture were selected through a highly competitive recruitment process to identify 50 top cultural leaders from around the world whose organizations work closely with communities – as defined by the applicant. The leaders chosen to participate in The Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture were selected from a wide range of cultural forms, locations, perspectives and experience levels. These executives have proven themselves to be effective, innovative, collaborative and curious and were chosen from a pool of over 150 open applications from 34 states and 18 countries.
The program’s director, Sunny Widmann says, “We were overwhelmed by both the quality and quantity of applications to this fourth and final cycle of the Chief Executive Program. Our aim was to create a cohort in a way that maximizes learning opportunities — so that each leader benefits from a new international, cross-disciplinary network. Together with our partners at Harvard Business School and University of Michigan, Ross School of Business, we’re thrilled to share knowledge with and learn from this incredible group of change agents in the cultural sector.”
The Chief Executive Program: Community & Culture Participants
Abdullah Alkafri, Ettijahat – Independent Culture (Beirut, Lebanon) Phillip Bahar, Chicago Humanities Festival (Chicago, Illinois) Neil Beddow, ACTA Community Theatre (Bristol, United Kingdom) Becky Bell Ballard, Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children (Phoenix, Arizona) Jenny Bilfield, Washington Performing Arts (Washington, DC) Priscilla Block, St. Louis ArtWorks (St. Louis, Missouri) Lynn Clements, Virginia Aquarium (Virginia Beach, Virginia) Julie Decker, Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska) Laurie de Koch, Seattle JazzED (Seattle, Washington) Ruth Dickey, Seattle Arts & Lectures (Seattle, Washington) Erika Dilday, Maysles Documentary Center (New York, New York) Zenetta Drew, Dallas Black Dance Theatre (Dallas, Texas) Silvia Duarte, City of Asylum (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Neenah Ellis, WYSO Public Radio (Yellow Springs, Ohio) Leanne Ferrer, Pacific Islanders in Communications (Honolulu, Hawai’i) Matthew Fluharty, Art of the Rural (Winona, Minnesota) Peggy Fogelman, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, Massachusetts) Alexander Gibson, Appalshop (Whitesburg, Kentucky) Steven Raider-Ginsburg, Autorino Center for the Arts and Humanities (New Haven, Connecticut) Mina Girgis, The Nile Project (San Francisco, California) Esther Grisham Grimm, 3Arts (Chicago, Illinois) Scott Harrison, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (Los Angeles, California) Lane Harwell, Dance/NYC (New York, New York) Ro Nita Hawes-Saunders, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (Dayton, Ohio) Anjee Helstrup-Alvarez, Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (San Jose, California) Rachel Jacobson, Film Streams (Omaha, Nebraska) Suzan Jenkins, Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (Silver Spring, Maryland) Shahina Johnson, Create Studios Digital Media (Swindon, United Kingdom) Sally Kane, National Federation of Community Broadcasters (Hotchkiss, Colorado) Lisa Lucas, National Book Foundation (New York, New York) Julia Marciari-Alexander, Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, Maryland) Jennifer McEwen, True Colors Theatre Company (Atlanta, Georgia) Ayisha Morgan-Lee, Hill Dance Academy Theatre (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) Adrienne Nakashima, South Coast Botanic Garden Foundation (Palos Verdes Peninsula, California) Alissa Novoselick, Tamarack Foundation for the Arts (Charleston, West Virginia) Drew Ogle, Rose Center Council for the Arts (Morristown, Tennessee) Maria Claudia Parias, Fundación Nacional Batuta (Bogota, Colombia) Vandana Ram, Bankstown Arts Centre (Sydney, Australia) Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Elisa Monte Dance (New York, New York) Lynn Scarff, Science Gallery Dublin (Dublin, Ireland) J. Deacon Stone, Coalfield Development (Huntington, West Virginia) Kelli Strickland, The Hypocrites (Chicago, Illinois) Beth Takekawa, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (Seattle, Washington) Teal Thibaud, Glass House Collective (Chattanooga, Tennessee) Britt Udesen, The Loft Literary Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Jonna Ward, The Seattle Public Library Foundation (Seattle, Washington) Matthew Wilson, MASSCreative (Boston, Massachusetts) Sylvia Wolf, Henry Art Gallery (Seattle, Washington) Jenni Wolfson, Chicken & Egg Pictures (Brooklyn, New York) Angel Ysaguirre, Illinois Humanities (Chicago, Illinois)
This program is the result of the incredible support from The Kresge Foundation, The Educational Foundation of America and The Chief Executive Fellowship Fund Honoring Ken Fischer. The partnerships of Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business make this work possible. Additional information about The Chief Executive Program: Community & Culture is available at www.artstrategies.org.
About National Arts Strategies National Arts Strategies
(NAS) strengthens the arts and culture sector by creating meaningful and useful educational experiences for leaders at all levels of the ecosystem – from boards and CEOs to entrepreneurs and artists – giving them the tools, connections and support to transform their leadership, their organizations and their communities.
Over our 30-year history, we have worked with thousands of people to build management and leadership capacities. Our model is to build connections that have a high level of trust and that are both deep and broad: we work closely with individual communities and connect local leaders with a broad and diverse network of likely and unlikely allies from across the globe.
Our approach brings concepts and frameworks from outside the sector to bear on the seemingly intractable problems that arts leaders face every day. We partner with faculty from top-tier universities who excel in both researching and teaching to deliver programs such as the Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture, Creative Community Fellows, the Senior Management Institute and the Executive Program in Arts and Culture Strategy. Learn more at www.artstrategies.org.
Program & Engagement Manager
Silvia Duarte, Assistant Director/ City of Asylum Pittsburgh
Tel: 412-323-0278 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Caitlyn Christensen, Associate Editor/ SampsoniaWay.org
Tel: 412-323-0278| Email: email@example.com
Sampsonia Way Magazine, the publishing arm of City of Asylum and a platform for persecuted writers and artists around the world since 2009, starts a new partnership with the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN). More than 100 writers and artists supported by this network based in Norway will have access to sampsoniaway.org.
Pittsburgh, PA, April 1, 2016— SampsoniaWay.org, the publishing arm of City of Asylum (COA), announces its partnership with ICORN and its new services and sections as an international platform for persecuted writers and artists around the world.
“We aim to provide writers with the tools they may need once they are in exile. One step towards fulfilling this commitment is inviting more than one hundred writers and artists who have been supported by the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN)—based in Stavanger, Norway since 2005—to collaborate with us,” said Silvia Duarte, Assistant Director at City of Asylum in Pittsburgh. She and Caitlyn Christensen, the Associate Editor of SampsoniaWay.org, were in attendance at the ICORN General Assembly in Paris from March 30 to April 2, meeting with ICORN writers in order to work towards a platform that fits best for them.
Helge Lunde, director of ICORN, emphasizes that this is the beginning of a new exchange between COA and the organization he represents. “SampsoniaWay.org and the ICORN website will interact with each other. The goal of this exchange is to provide writers with a tool that helps them build a bigger audience. However, writers will decide how they will use this site.”
￼“Out of sight usually means out of mind, and this is the case for many writers who find themselves suddenly living in another country where their writings may not be well known. SampsoniaWay.org has proven to be invested in such writers and their writings and has become an important platform. As an ICORN ambassador, I am thrilled with the collaboration between SampsoniaWay.org and ICORN,” said Jude Dibia, ICORN’s writer representative.
￼Duarte adds that this new collaboration “aims to provide writers and artists with new
￼audiences and readerships, as well as help them connect to the networks they lost due to their exiled status; offer them safety by publishing them anonymously or by bringing their cases to international attention (whichever they prefer); publish their work in their original language and translate their work into English.”
“This choice is a great fit for most of the writers and artists in exile: City of Asylum in Pittsburgh is one of the more than fifty ICORN cities members; SampsoniaWay.org, COA’s publishing arm, now with seven years of experience, has a staff and an advisory committee formed not only by writers and journalists but also by individuals in exile,” stated Henry Reese, President and Founder of City of Asylum, and a new board member of ICORN.
Among the services SampsoniaWay.org offers to endangered writers and artists are:
• Comprehensive interviews and profiles. Many of the author and artist interviews published by SampsoniaWay.org have been a reference for major publications such as The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Huffington Post and The Guardian.
• Excerpts and samples. of the contributors’ works are published in their original language and translated into English. SampsoniaWay.org has published excerpts and samples of any length, ranging from poetry, fiction and nonfiction to other artistic disciplines, including cartoons and music videos.
• Monthly columns. SampsoniaWay.org publishes columns on topics related to freedom of speech by writers in exile. Each column is a window to a reality that is generally ignored by the mainstream media. Some of the columnists have won awards in the United States and have been recognized by international publications.
• Anthologies and compilations of banned work. One of the goals of SampsoniaWay.org is to publish work that has been banned in other countries. For example, SampsoniaWay.org’s Cuban columnist Orlando Luis Pardo picked short stories by 16 writers living in Havana for an anthology of Cuban fiction. SampsoniaWay.org provided translators and then published each story in English and Spanish on SampsoniaWay.org and in a printed anthology.
• Virtual performances. SampsoniaWay.org broadcasts talks, readings, concerts, panels, and public interviews through technologies such as Google Hangouts, Skype, and Livestream.
• Promotion and Networking though social media. SampsoniaWay.org’s social media platforms have not only expanded the international audience of the affiliated writers and artists, but have also reconnected them to their original audience (followers from their home countries). For example, SampsoniaWay.org served as the only platform for an Ethiopian writer, garnering an Ethiopian following of 3,500.
An online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that celebrates freedom of expression through literature and supports persecuted writers worldwide.
The magazine’s key staff includes exiled writers living on Sampsonia Way, a street in Pittsburgh that embodies a variety of cultures and languages through murals and texts
￼on the writers’ houses, designs which were conceived of and inspired by their own experience of exile and repression.
Just as the physical Sampsonia Way provides a home for exiled writers in a revitalized community, SampsoniaWay.org aims to be a virtual home that mobilizes a widely dispersed international public to protect writers and writing by engaging writers and non-writers in a virtual community and by becoming a source for research and dialogue.
SampsoniaWay.org seeks to advocate for and protect writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of everyday life. By “community” SampsoniaWay.org includes the Pittsburgh community, international readers and writers, and those concerned with advancing free expression where it is endangered—whether they live in freedom or in countries that censor and persecute literary writers.
￼City of Asylum (COA)
Founded in 2004 and located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, COA is one of the fifty ICORN member cities. COA creates a thriving community for writers, readers, and neighbors. COA provides sanctuary to endangered literary writers, so that they can continue to write and their voices are not silenced. COA offers a broad range of literary programs in a variety of community settings to encourage cross-cultural exchange. COA anchors neighborhood economic development by transforming blighted properties into homes for these programs and energizing public spaces through public art with text-based components.
￼The centerpiece of COA’s programs is a long-term residency for literary writers who are in exile from their home countries and under threat of persecution because of their writing. The goal of a City of AsylumTM Exiled Writer Residency is to enable a writer to continue to write while transitioning to a stable, independent life in exile. This program
￼provides a stipend and health care for two years and housing for up to four years.
• Huang Xiang (2004-06)
• Horacio Castellanos Moya (2006-11)
• Khet Mar (2009-12)
• Israel Centeno (2010 – present)
• Yaghoub Yadali (2013 – 15)
The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN)
ICORN is an independent organization of cities and regions offering shelter to writers
and artists at risk, advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values and promoting international solidarity.
￼￼￼￼￼￼ICORN member cities offer long term, but temporary, shelter to those at risk as a direct consequence of their creative activities. Their aim is to be able to host as many persecuted writers and artists as possible in ICORN cities and together with their sister networks and organizations, to form a dynamic and sustainable global network for freedom of expression.
Since 2006, more than 50 cities around the globe have joined the network, and no less than 140 writers and artists have found shelter in an ICORN member city. The commitment by these cities is both very concrete and deeply symbolic: the agent for change (the writer/artist) escapes from imminent threat and persecution; the host city offers sanctuary; and the values of hospitality, solidarity and freedom of expression become further enshrined in the ethos of that city.
ICORN protects and promotes an increasingly wide range of writers, artists and human rights defenders, including bloggers, novelists, playwrights, journalists, musicians, poets, non-fiction writers, visual artists, cartoonists, singer/songwriters, translators, screenwriters and publishers. ICORN enables them to continue to express themselves freely in a place where they are safe, but not silent. Through digital media, they can reach audiences to whom they were denied access before leaving. And through local￼ ICORN networks, their voices can also be heard by new audiences in their host cities and beyond.