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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: Muslim Voices in America

This project envisions a mosaic of stories creating a rich pattern to celebrate the diversity of Muslims in America. Through spoken word, dance, music, visual art and interdisciplinary activities, the project will explore the work of Muslim-American artists and scholars with a focus on personal narrative. The project will both educate participants about the diversity of cultures in the Muslim world and empower them to transform the societal narratives around Muslims in America.

Hancher Auditorium, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA - Embracing Complexity: Contemporary Islamic Expressions from around the Globe

This project will take a multifaceted approach to building understanding of contemporary Muslim cultures. A variety of artists will be in residence over the course of two years and work with partners both on and off campus. The project will explore what it means to be Muslim in Iowa and increase awareness of Muslim societies around the world by making connections between current, local efforts and fostering interdisciplinary engagement with students, faculty and the community.

Moss Arts Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA - Jusūr: Exploring Muslim Identities

Jusūr (“Bridges”) will engage communities in southwest Virginia with the diversity of Muslim identities and cultures through an arts-based 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 creating opportunities for cultural exchange—joins an extensive network of campus and community partners to integrate arts participation, dialogue, service-learning, academic inquiry and the production of new creative work. A multi-year process of story-sharing and engagement through music, theatre, literary and visual arts will culminate in an original production created by a cross-cultural cohort of students and community members in collaboration with renowned guest artists.

Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College, Easton, PA - ‘I Am Muslim’: Experiencing the Arts of Contemporary Muslim Societies

Recognizing the vibrant diversity of Muslim art, culture and identity throughout the world, Lafayette and the College’s community partners will explore a variety of contemporary Muslim artistic expressions by hosting three festivals focusing on the cultures grounded in Africa, in the Arab world and Asia, and in the United States. Each of the festivals will build upon one or two core performances (including premieres of commissioned work) with self-identified Muslim artists, as part of the Williams Center for the Arts’ Performance Series. The project seeks to challenge assumptions and prejudices, build new audiences, and break down barriers among young people.

Consortium Grantee​

The Cedar Cultural Center with Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN - Midnimo

Midnimo, the Somali word 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 and events that increase understanding of Somali culture through music. Through this consortium project, The Cedar and Augsburg College in Minneapolis; the Department of Music Performance Series at Minnesota State University, Mankato; and The Paramount Center for the Arts with St. Cloud State University are forming a statewide Midnimo touring network that will expand the program’s geographical reach and impact to areas of Greater Minnesota with growing Somali populations.

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

Through the Midnimo program, the Department of Music Performance Series at Minnesota State University, Mankato will focus on increasing understanding and awareness of Muslim cultures through the performing arts through five or six community musical performances in Mankato over the next three years by internationally renowned Somali artists. The project aims to increase understanding of Muslim culture through support activities including new curricular designs in various University academic departments (participants include English, art, history and music departments), panel discussions, workshops, Q&As and campus and community performances for Somali and non-Somali audiences of all ages, with a focus on millennials.

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

Through the Midnimo program, Paramount Center for the Arts in St. Cloud, Minnesota will partner with St. Cloud State University to present residencies and performances over a thirty-month period with professional Somali music artists from around the world. Exposing audiences, especially millennials, to these artists, their music and their stories will serve to provide opportunities for the community to increase awareness and deepen understanding of Muslim culture through the performing arts. This is a timely and fitting project for our changing community.​ 

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