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Tibbits Opera Foundation Awarded Second Heritage Grant

For a second year, Tibbits Opera Foundation has received a $25,000 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council (MHC) through its Heritage Grants program. The program supports projects that help the people of Michigan understand cultural differences by sharing local stories of race, cultural history and personal identity.

Students from the Arabic Language School FOR THE WEB

Students from the Arabic Language School.

Tibbits will expand on activities completed through its first Heritage Grant project in order to bridge barriers and promote cross-cultural understanding between Arab and non-Arab groups living in the Coldwater community. Through partnerships with Aira of Coldwater and the Arab American Society of Coldwater, Tibbits will offer a series of presentations, workshops, and exhibits aimed at fostering conversations about the history and culture of the Arab Americans here in Coldwater.

Salwa presenting to BISD FOR THE WEB

Salwa Alsuraima presents on Arab culture to Branch ISD staff.

Funding from the grant will support several educational programs for children including an Arabic language school and a video workshop that allows youth to document personal and family histories.  Participants of these classes will have opportunities to showcase their works within an exhibition opening at the theatre in January 2017.

“Coldwater is home to a very significant concentration of Yemeni Americans and yet unfortunately, many people here know very little about this unique culture and history,” says project director, Tamara Barnes, “we hope these programs will help Coldwater embrace its diversity as something to celebrate rather than fear.”

The grant also supports cultural competency training that will be available to City of Coldwater staff, Coldwater school administrators, public safety personnel, and healthcare professionals. The presentations will help local leaders and workers who have regular interaction with the Yemeni community to be more effective.

MHC received 68 applications to the program of which less than half received funding. Nearly $600,000 in grants was awarded by MHC to Michigan organizations spanning the entire state and assisting many minority and ethnic groups in telling their stories.

The Heritage Grant program is supported by a $1.7 million grant to MHC from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for development and implementation of this new initiative, “Exploring the History of All Michigan’s People.” This three-year program includes two rounds of grant awards. The grants will engage organizations and individuals at the local level throughout Michigan by establishing connections across racial and cultural lines that promote understanding and healing.

For more information on the program or to become involved contact Tamara Apmann, Tibbits’ audience outreach director and project director for the grant. Apmann can be reached at 517-278-6029 or at boxoffice@Tibbits.org.

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