Two Faculty Projects Awarded President’s Creative Economy Initiatives Grants

Two Amherst campus faculty projects are among eight across the UMass system sharing $270,000 in grants from the President’s Creative Economy Initiatives Fund.

Announced July 8 by President Robert L. Caret, the grants support faculty-led projects in the arts, humanities and social sciences that will bring new creative resources to Massachusetts communities.

A $32,000 grant to Judyie Al-Bilali, Gilbert McCauley and Priscilla Page of the theater department will support “Art, Legacy & Community,” where faculty and students will work with community groups in the greater Springfield area to produce an original theater production and develop Du Bois Performance Workshops for education in multicultural theater. 

“A LGBTQI Community Archives and Education Center,” a project to support the Sexual Minorities Archives (SMA) in Northampton, was awarded $29,334. Led by Mitch Boucher, University Without Walls, Julio Capo Jr., history and Commonwealth Honors College, and Jessica Johnson, history, the initiative will help SMA preserve, build and provide wider access to its resources, develop regional walking tours and other interactive programs, and establish greater national and international community links for these unique and valuable historical materials.

“The Creative Economy Initiatives Fund provides us with a unique opportunity to contribute the talent and resources of the University of Massachusetts to communities and organizations across the state that are helping to enrich the quality of life in the Commonwealth,” said Caret. “These projects—and the partnerships with nonprofits and creative industries that stem from them—are foundational to our role as an institution that is committed to making a difference wherever and whenever we can.’’

The fund was created in 2007 to complement the President’s Science and Technology Initiatives Fund. In its eight years of operation, the Creative Economy Initiatives Fund has made 73 awards totaling more than $2 million. It has supported preservation of the W.E.B Du Bois boyhood home in Great Barrington, established the Lowell Youth Orchestra and a permanent Jack Kerouac education and tourism site in Lowell. It has brought UMass Dartmouth students together with Durfee High School students to create a photographic history of Fall River’s neighborhoods, helped establish a women artisans’ cooperative in New Bedford, developed a workers’ upholstery coop in Springfield, and sponsored numerous music, dance and theatre performances in Boston, Amherst and Lowell.