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APAP|365 > Knowledge > Grant Programs > Building Bridges

​Building Bridges

Funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art

Building Bridges​: Arts, Culture and Identity

APAP's Building Bridges: Arts, Culture and Identity grants program has awarded four individual organizations and a consortium of three organizations with funding ranging from $125,000-$335,000 to support 30-month long projects. Grantees are expected to plan and maximize resources collaboratively with campus-wide and external community partners in order to engage targeted populations – with a primary focus on young people born after 1980 (the “millennial” population). The overarching goal of this program is to increase cross-cultural knowledge and understanding by engaging young people and other audiences in performances and interdisciplinary activities that focus on arts and culture that has roots in contemporary Muslim-majority regions of the world. This is to be accomplished by engaging with artists who, through their work, exemplify the layered and diverse cultural identities of Muslims living in the U.S. and around the world.

Photo from Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grantee:
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, University of Houston - Houston, TX​

Individual Grantees

Fine & Performing Arts Center, Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL

Mosaics will explore the breadth of American culture through the lens of Muslim artists living and practicing in the United States, with a focus on personal narrative. This project envisions a mosaic of stories to celebrate the diversity of Muslims in America. The Fine and Performing Arts Center will engage the Moraine Valley Community College campus and surrounding communities in multidisciplinary performances and interdisciplinary activities in order to transform their perceptions of Islam.

Hancher Auditorium, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Embracing Complexity: Contemporary Islamic Expressions will take a multidisciplinary approach to building understanding of contemporary Islamic cultures. Performing and visual artists will be in residence over the course of two years and work with partners both on and off campus through performances, classes, exhibits and discussions. The project will also explore the experiences of Muslims in Eastern Iowa through sharing of local stories.​

Moss Arts Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

SALAAM: Exploring Muslim Cultures (Salaam means "Peace") will engage communities in southwest Virginia with a diversity of Muslim cultures through an exploration of stories, images, sounds and perspectives. The Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech—a global land-grant university, driven by the motto Ut Prosim (“That I May Serve”) and committed to cultural exchange—joins a network of campus and community partners to integrate arts, dialogue, service-learning, academic inquiry and the production of new work. A multi-year process of story-sharing, performing, and visual arts will culminate in an original production created by a cohort of students and community members in collaboration with guest artists.​

Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College, Easton, PA

Recognizing the vibrant diversity of Muslim arts, cultures, and identities throughout the world and at home in the United States, Lafayette College and Williams Center for the Arts' Performance Series will explore a variety of contemporary Muslim artistic expressions by hosting three semester-long festivals through Tapestries: Voices Within Contemporary Muslim Cultures. Each festival will feature one or two mainstage performances while further engaging communities through extended interdisciplinary activities throughout the campus. In collaborative experiences between artists and campus and local communities, the project seeks to build new audiences, deepen understanding and awareness, and cultivate broad-minded citizens of the world.

Consortium Grantee​

The Cedar Cultural Center with Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN

Midnimo, Somali for “unity,” was launched in 2014 as a program of The Cedar and Augsburg College that features Somali artists from Minnesota and around the world in residencies that increase understanding of Muslim culture through Somali music. With five partners in three cities - The Cedar and Augsburg College; Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music Performance Series; and The Paramount Center for the Arts with St. Cloud State University - this consortium is forming statewide touring network to expand the program’s geographical reach, educational impact, and community building opportunities to areas of Greater Minnesota with rapidly growing Somali populations. 

Department of Music Performance Series, Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN

As part of a consortium led by The Cedar, Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music Performance Series will present and host multiple residencies over two and a half years featuring acclaimed Somali artists from Minnesota and around the world. The program aims to increase understanding of Somali culture through a variety of activities and events, including new curricular designs in various academic departments who will work together across disciplines to incorporate music and artists into academic work. The Midnimo expansion into Mankato will facilitate the building of bridges between the University campus, Mankato’s rapidly growing Somali community, and the larger community.

Paramount Center for the Arts with St. Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, MN

As part of a consortium led by The Cedar and Augsburg College, Paramount Center for the Arts and St. Cloud State University will present and host multiple residencies over two and a half years featuring acclaimed Somali artists from Minnesota and around the world. The program, named Midnimo after the Somali word for “unity,” will increase understanding of Somali culture by exposing diverse audiences to the music, stories, and background of Somali artists through activities such as performances, workshops, panel discussions, and student projects. This is a timely and fitting project for our changing community.

APAP's Cultural Exchange Laboratory

Growing out of APAP's Building Bridges grant program, CXL is the place to explore, share and get context and resources about innovative programming and educational activities by international artists and outstanding presenters. It is a timely hub of information and ideas that foster understanding and help change perceptions about Muslim societies and other cultures with roots outside of the United States.

Cultural Exchange Lab Virtual Festival on Thursday, November 17 at 8 p.m. (EST)
The CXL Virtual Festival will be a one hour, one-time-only, live-streamed celebration of performing arts with roots in Muslim-majority countries and cultures. This free webcast will feature live performances by artists selected by leading U.S. presenters of Muslim art forms. This virtual showcase is your chance to see artists who rarely travel to the U.S. to perform.

Enter the Cultural Exchange Lab

Building Bridges: Campus Community Engag​ement

APAP's Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement grants program follows upon the accomplishments and lessons learned from the Creative Campus Innovations grants program established in January 2006. Building Bridges supports U.S.-based performing arts presenting organizations interested in building interdisciplinary cross-campus and community collaborations that expand awareness, knowledge and understanding of Muslim societies. Grantees plan and maximize resources collaboratively with campus-based and external community partners in order to engage targeted populations, with a primary focus on young people born after 1980 (the “millennial” population).

Six campus presenting organizations were awarded in December 2013 for their ability to engage student and community populations and to increase knowledge and understanding of Muslim cultures through the performing arts. Projects will take place from January 2014 through April 2017. Hear directly from grantees​ to find out more by listening to an audio recording of the APAP|NYC 2015 session, Building Bridges Grants: Arts, Culture and Muslim Societies​. Also, explore the different projects and websites here to learn more about their dynamic programming.​

Photo of a living room performance from the Midnimo program at the Cedar and Augsburg College.

Inside Arts article on the Building Bridges grant program

Ever since the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, an idea had been brewing in the mind of Ping Chong, the New York-based writer-director. He wanted to make a theater piece about Muslims in America. Steven Hitt, the performing arts center's artistic producing director, has a longtime interest in theater for social change. To Hitt, who commissioned Beyond Sacred (funded by APAP's Building Bridges grant), the simplicity and directness of "undesirable elements" makes it a powerful tool for breaking down prejudice - even more than other theater pieces that have been part of the initiative.


Learn more about how the Building Bridges grant program helps challenge stereotypes in this Inside Arts article.

APAP|NYC Conference