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IU Bloomington awarded NEH grant to create integrated center for the arts and humanities

For Immediate Release Apr 2, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana University has been awarded a $500,000 matching Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund renovations to Maxwell Hall for the creation of an integrated center for the arts and humanities.

The establishment of a campuswide center reflects the university’s commitment to the arts and humanities as essential to the success of all IU schools. Its central location in the historic Old Crescent area of campus will serve the diverse creative interests of students and faculty across degree programs. It will also further the Arts and Humanities Council’s work promoting public-facing arts and humanities initiatives and advancing creative ties between the campus arts scene and communities throughout the city and region.

The center will also offer needed contemporary space for presentations and exhibits of faculty and student work to showcase IU’s progressive, collaborative programs in the arts and humanities. It will also help the Arts and Humanities Council expand professional training and diverse career opportunities for undergraduates in these fields.

Maxwell Hall
Maxwell Hall.Photo by Eric Rudd, Indiana University

The integrated arts and humanities center will connect many of IU Bloomington’s extensive arts and humanities resources in one location, most notably the Arts and Humanities Council, the College Arts and Humanities Institute and the recently launched Platform: An Arts and Humanities Research Laboratory.

“IU Bloomington is a wellspring of expanding cultural, artistic and humanistic offerings,” IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said. “In a single year – 2018 – our campus has secured more than $3 million in external arts and humanities funding, including major grants from the Mellon Foundation, the Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. Since 2016, our campus has received $30 million in arts and humanities funding. With this central space dedicated to arts and humanities, we can foster interdisciplinary creative collaborations and expand our available space to showcase contemporary work.”

The need for an integrated arts and humanities center was identified in the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for IU Bloomington and was also reflected in a recent campus space survey of more than 6,000 students conducted by the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. In the survey, students expressed the desire for a salon that could be used for public lectures, conferences and other events programmed by arts and humanities student groups.

The effort to secure the NEH grant was spearheaded by Robel, IU Arts and Humanities Council director Ed Comentale and Helene O’Leary, assistant provost for strategic campus advancement. Their vision developed out of earlier council discussions regarding campus needs that included programmers and faculty from the School of Art, Architecture + Design; the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance; the Jacobs School of Music; IU Cinema; the Mathers Museum of World Cultures; the Lilly Library; and many other schools and programs.

“The establishment of this center affirms our commitment to the arts and humanities as central to IU’s evolving educational mission,” Comentale said. “Our proposal to the NEH emphasized our recent work promoting the methods and values of the arts and humanities as beneficial to all degrees and professions, and this space will be a home and symbol for our quickly growing community of practitioners and supporters. It’s a great turning point in our campus history.”

The matching grant fund from the NEH is a testament to the momentum rising around a current fundraising campaign to support campuswide arts and humanities programming and renovations of Maxwell Hall, O’Leary said. The fundraising campaign is part of For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.

O’Leary looks forward to connecting the building project with further support that will amplify IU Bloomington’s many existing assets and resources while making space for new creativity, collaboration and innovation.

“Maxwell Hall also helps bridge the physical distance between our most treasured cultural institutions on campus and the larger community,” O’Leary said.

IU received the most funding of any recipient in the state from this round of NEH grants, which totaled $28.6 million in funding for 233 humanities projects across the country. In addition to the Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge grant, Katherine Gustafson at IU Northwest received a $6,000 grant. An assistant professor and adjunct professor in women’s and gender studies, Gustafson will use her NEH grant to complete the first book-length study of adolescence as a modern social category in 18th-century British novels and its affiliated marketing industry.

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