The Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, an operating foundation supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, has announced grants totaling more than $1.5 million in support of arts-focused efforts to increase public understanding of contemporary Muslim societies.
Through DDFIA's Building Bridges Program, eight nonprofit organizations in the U.S. will receive grants to plan and implement projects that create participatory, collaborative, and/or interactive experiences designed to engage a diverse range of audiences. Grant recipients include Brooklyn Children's Theatre, which was awarded $78,100 in support of a series of four new plays focused on themes of Muslim heritage that will be performed in public schools and distributed to community theater nationwide; Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, which will receive $300,000 to expand a Somali music culture project through further interaction and engagement with local Somali immigrant and non-Somali communities; the Children's Museum of Manhattan, which will receive $50,000 to develop a complementary series of family programs, festivals, and evening events that contextualize visitors' experiences of the museum's current exhibition "America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far"; and Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, which was awarded $300,000 for the creation, premiere, and touring of "Layla and Majnun," an ancient love story well known in Muslim societies, as well as related engagement activities designed to increase audiences' understanding of the breadth and diversity of Muslim cultures.
In addition, the PEN American Center in New York City will receive $225,000 to develop a series of high-profile events convening groups of Muslim and non-Muslim writers across specific genres; the Sundance Institute in Los Angeles was awarded $125,000 in support of artists from the Middle East and North Africa who are creating up to four new theater projects; Theatre Squared in Fayetteville, Arkansas, will receive $250,000 to develop, produce, and tour R&J Damascus, a reimagined Romeo and Julietbased in Damascus, Syria; and Words Beats and Life in Washington, D.C., was awarded $175,000 in support of two seasons of performances, exhibitions, workshops, and dialogue sessions highlighting the diversity of global and American Muslim hip hop artists across gender, religion, and geography.
"In a world fraught with divisive problems, the work of creative people can be a powerful conduit to one another, a way to connect and see each other more clearly," said Zeyba Rahman, senior program officer for the DDFIA Building Bridges Program. "We are proud to support the fresh ideas and courageous programs that these organizations have proposed to expose the public to cultures rooted in Muslim regions, both abroad and in their own backyards, and look forward to watching them unfold."