NEWS & stories

#MH50 Storytelling Sponsorship Grants Announced

Photo of Susi Ryan gesturing toward a quilt.
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We’re thrilled to announce that 15 organizations across the Commonwealth have been awarded $2,000 Storytelling Sponsorship grants. These grantswhich fund public storytelling programs—reinforce the centrality of storytelling for the cultural nonprofit sector. The #MH50 Storytelling Sponsorships are also a special initiative rolled out in 2024 to recognize Mass Humanities’ 50th anniversary. 

 

Vietnamese American Community of Massachusetts

Roxbury-Dorchester

“Stories of Vietnam”

Stories of Vietnam is a project dedicated to providing opportunities for young Vietnamese American individuals to share their stories and celebrate the power of language, culture, and community. Attendees will have the chance to listen to captivating narratives from individuals who have embarked on the journey of learning Vietnamese language and embracing their cultural heritage. We will be providing free bilingual books for children to learn Vietnamese and explore our rich culture through engaging picture books. With low reading scores and a growing need for diverse literature, our initiative aims to bridge this gap by nurturing connections to cultural roots and empowering children to embrace their bicultural identities. With this grant, we come together to inspire a love for Vietnamese culture and contribute to the strength of the Vietnamese community for generations to come.

https://www.vacmass.org/

 

Boston Preservation Alliance Board of Young Advisors

Roxbury Dorchester

Preserving Stories: Celebrating the Heritage of Boston’s AAPI Communities

This event will be hosted in Little Saigon (Dorchester), home to one of Massachusetts’ largest Vietnamese populations. We will spotlight the rich tapestry of stories, places, and cultures that define the AAPI experience in Boston through a series of concise, image-rich presentations. Each talk will delve into the history, art, architecture, or lived experiences of AAPI community members in Boston.

By inviting speakers from local AAPI organizations to join us, we will provide a platform for underrepresented voices in preservation. Through engaging presentations, participants will grapple with the challenges and triumphs of preserving AAPI heritage in a rapidly changing urban landscape. We hope to inspire collective action toward the continued preservation and recognition of Boston’s AAPI communities by celebrating their unique contributions and cultural legacy.

https://www.bostonpreservation.org/page/young-advisors-board

 

Worcester Writers’ Collective

Worcester

“From Page to Stage: Worcester Writers’ Collective Summer Showcase”

The WWC is pursuing a grant to fund a summer showcase in the BrickBox Theater, featuring 10-12 different poets, playwrights, and short story writers presenting their work aloud before an audience in an hour-long production. This writing displays the diversity of Worcester County, spanning a number of topics including immigration and life in the diaspora, parenting, socioeconomic adversity, love, loss, and perseverance, to name only a few. Our multimedia performance will produce pieces of poetry, scenes, and flash fiction, which have already been workshopped at the JMAC, realizing each story with spoken-word slams, visual mediums such as projections or sets, and movement to imagine the world and narrative of each piece. With access to the BrickBox’s facilities, our diverse collection of writers and creatives will enhance their storytelling, moving beyond our workshop setting to work with theatremakers, visual artists, musicians, and choreographers to present writing for an audience.

 

Lawrence History Center

Lawrence

“We Are Story Weavers: Final Reading & Open House”

This free event will take place on the final day of our intensive three-week place-based summer program — The Rising Loaves: Andover Bread Loaf at Lawrence History Center. The program is in its 10th summer and the theme this year is, “We Are Story Weavers.” Designed to help Lawrence middle school students learn to write more expressively and discover the joys of writing in all its forms, students participate in multimedia projects that involve art, music, theatre, photography, and more. As part of an enthusiastic community of writers, they work individually and in groups with writing leaders and guest presenters to learn and engage in various forms of writing, including poetry, narrative, and memoirs. At the public reading, students host an open house at which they showcase personal creative works as well as share their stories, writing and art pieces, from a student anthology. The event will be open to student/staff families and the public.

https://lawrencehistory.org/

 

Madison Park Development Corporation

Roxbury-Dorchester

“Roxbury Roots”

Roxbury Roots is an ongoing series dedicated to celebrating Roxbury’s African American storytelling traditions. Since 2022, it has become a cultural cornerstone, providing a platform for voices such as City Councilor Julia Mejia and others, reflecting deep community ties. Each session features 10-minute personal stories from diverse community members, enhancing engagement and cultural expression. Events include refreshments and free entry to all, with any donations supporting local charities. The 2024 event, marking the series’ second anniversary, will bring back influential figures like CEO Kurt Faustin and Civil Rights Attorney Chetan Tiwari, further solidifying its role in Roxbury’s cultural identity. By continuously engaging underrepresented voices and preserving these stories, Hibernian Hall catalyzes community impact and broadens appreciation for Roxbury’s diversity, ensuring the program’s alignment with MassHumanities’ goals for cultural enrichment and community dialogue.

https://www.madison-park.org/

 

Tunefoolery Music

Brockton; Roxbury-Dorchester

“Recovery Stories by Tunefoolery Musicians”

An event to honor Tunefoolery’s 30th anniversary, featuring recovery stories and musical performances by three Tunefoolery Musicians (three 15 minute sets) of color, and pay tribute to Solomon Carter Fuller, America’s 1st Black Psychiatrist and a trailblazer in advancing mental health equity for people of color. Free and open to the public.

https://www.tunefoolery.org/

Pride Worcester

Worcester

“Arts and Clacks: Design Your own Pride Fan”

In preparation for the annual Pride Worcester festival held on September 7th, 2024, Pride Worcester and Guardians of Tradition co-host an intergenerational fan-making workshop which will be offered to the Greater Worcester community. We will also partner with the Rainbow Elders from the Worcester LGBTQ+ Elders Network (WLEN); LGBTQ+ seniors will be paired with partners in the workshop and will be given guided questions focused on LGBTQ+ history to begin storytelling and sharing amongst partners and groups. Takeaways from the conversations will inspire creative messages on each fan. The fans will be made for the Pride festival and will later be collected for an opening art exhibit for Pride 2025.

https://www.prideworcester.org/

 

Haley House

Roxbury-Dorchester

“Youth Read Mel King Poetry”

Students will rehearse and practice poems in the Mel King Academy school garden, and perform them live at Thornton Street Farm. In conversation with Mel King’s poetry, students will share words of their own that speak to the themes Mel insisted upon in his work: gentrification, living in a changing Boston, and wanting more for it. Their poems will be created during the learning/practice workshops and bring student voices into conversation with Mel’s. “For this event, theater students at Mel King will perform a series of poems written by Mel King, primarily from his collection Streets, to community members at Thornton Street Farm, Haley House’s community farm based in the Roxbury Neighborhood. Haley House manages the school garden at Mel King South End Academy, running arts and nature-based programs for their youth K-12, and partnering with other enrichment programs at the school to make our education services interdisciplinary and collaborative across the school community. This is an opportunity for student leadership & performance practice while educating the students and the broader Roxbury/Mel King South End Academy community about Mel King’s vast offerings to the Boston community throughout his life & honor his legacy and how they can use their own voices.

https://haleyhouse.org/

 

John Morello – Storyteller

Worcester

The Music That Got Me Through – Stories of Survival & Inspiration

People of all ages, backgrounds, and neighborhoods are invited to come together to tell and hear stories about that certain song, album, or melody that inspired, helped them through tough times, or changed their life. There will be a lineup that is more formal with 8 designated slots and there will also be an open mic freestyle event that follows. Storytellers are encouraged not to sing or perform the actual music but rather talk about what the song meant to them and the circumstances in their life at the time. This creates an environment of inclusion as one does not have to be a musician to participate. There will also be a time for the storyteller to play a recording of the song and have the audience and group listen together not as background but with intention. This will broaden the world view and appreciation of music of all. Care will be taken to include encourage and recruit stories from minority, non-English speaking, or traditionally under represented groups in our city.

https://www.johnmorello.com/

 

Afrimerican Culture Initiative

Roxbury-Dorchester

“Roadmap to a Beloved Community”

Roadmap to a Beloved Community: Interwoven Histories of African American & Jewish American communities in Boston. This event, set against the backdrop of Boston’s Boston Bank Urban Renewal Group (BBURG) designation, aims to share the intertwined narratives of African American and Jewish communities in Boston. Through storytelling, dialogue, and shared experiences, we delve into historical challenges due to redlining & urban renewal and celebrate the resilience and cultural contributions of these groups. Our goal is to foster understanding, promote justice, and pave the way for communal healing and solidarity.

https://afrimericanone.org/

 

Berkshire County Historical Society

Pittsfield

“Story Circle at Arrowhead”

The Berkshire County Historical Society will host the first of two storytelling events in Pittsfield. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, we will commemorate the occasion by collecting stories of grandparents and grandchildren. Billy Budd was discovered and published by Herman Melville’s granddaughter, Eleanor, who shared a special relationship with her grandfather. We plan to record and collect special stories of grandparents and grandchildren, told in Herman Melville’s parlor. We will invite the local community to sign up to participate and create a story circle so that the telling of stories becomes a group activity and a shared experience for two family generations. We will partner with the Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College for organizational assistance, using their expertise as moderators of oral history interviews. We will archive the recordings and share them with the families.

https://berkshirehistory.org/

 

#ARTSTAYSHERE

Roxbury-Dorchester

“I TESTIFY: CLAIM MY SPACE”

On November 19, known as #ARTSTAYSHERE Day in Boston, we will host “I TESTIFY: CLAIM MY SPACE,” artist storytelling about the value their art workspace has and the impact of its impending loss on their creativity, art practice, livelihood, and general wellbeing. Five artists will “give testimony,” sharing their own, unique stories and experiences. After the story telling, there will be a Q&A where attendees can ask questions of artists, organizers, and experts. The event will be video recorded and shared on our website, YouTube channel, and shared via social media/email newsletter.

https://www.artstayshere.org/

 

Valley Arts Mentors

Holyoke

“Stories of Mentorship: Artists Tell The Tale of Their Work”

The culminating event of our 2024 Mentorship program, this program will be both an opening reception and storytelling event featuring our participating artists. The audience will be invited to absorb hung artwork while hearing the artists share the story of their mentorship experience and the genesis of their work. Artists will be invited to reflect on and tell stories about their lives and how those histories intertwine with larger community, social and historical narratives in relation to their art-making practice and the work(s) they have chosen to hang. The artworks will be exhibited through the end of the year at Holyoke Media. We will film the event and then create a video which will be available through Holyoke Media, artsmentors.org, social media, etc.

https://artsmentors.org/

 

Freedom House

Roxbury-Dorchester

“Living Legacies Time Capsule Project”

Living Legacies Time Capsule Project is a community storytelling voicemail project aimed at gathering the living history of our Roxbury-Dorchester neighbors. More than just a static collection of artifacts, this event emphasizes the living nature of Roxbury-Dorchester’s history. Stories collected will highlight both the history of the neighborhood and community members’ dreams for the future. As stories are shared and memories are preserved, attendees become active participants in shaping the legacy of their community. During the event, audio of personal stories will be collected from community members through an interactive phone-based technology. Stories will be saved digitally and coded for key themes and accessibility. Community members can later listen to these voicemail stories through Freedom House’s website and potentially in future in-person storytelling events.

https://www.freedomhouse.com/

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