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Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts awarded $200,000 grant

Center will promote understanding of Muslim culture through art
UH is one of only six U.S. institutions awarded Building Bridges Grants funded by Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts has launched a major initiative using interdisciplinary art practices as vehicles for expanding awareness of Muslim cultures and has been awarded a $200,000 grant to move the project forward.

The center is among only six institutions in the United States to receive a Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grant awarded by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

“The Building Bridges grant will help us show how the arts can be transformational for a university campus,” said Karen Farber, executive director of the Mitchell Center. “We can't wait to get started with the remarkable artists that will be a part of the INTERSECTIONS initiative. We are so grateful to the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and Doris Duke foundations for their votes of confidence in the Mitchell Center and the University of Houston.”

The $200,000 grant will support the Mitchell Center’s INTERSECTIONS project, which is led by a steering committee of Houston area scholars and arts leaders. INTERSECTIONS will assemble four artists in residence on the UH campus who will use their respective talents to create awareness of Muslim culture through academic activities, exhibitions and performances.

In the Fall 2014 semester, INTERSECTIONS artists in residence will participate in the Mitchell Center’s Interdisciplinary Arts courses “Art as Activism I and II.” They also will premiere works during the center’s annual CounterCurrent festival that will be held on and off campus during the spring semesters of 2015 and 2016. Participating INTERSECTIONS artists will be announced in early 2014.

The INTERSECTIONS steering committee is comprised of CLASS faculty members, local artists and Houston arts professionals including:

  • Hosam Aboul-Ela, associate professor of English
  • Dina Alsowayel, associate director of Women’s Studies
  • Emran El-Badawi, director of Arab Studies
  • Nick Flynn, professor of Creative Writing
  • Jim Granato, director of the Hobby Center for Public Policy
  • Pat Jasper, director of folklife and traditional arts for the Houston Arts Alliance
  • Sehba Sarwar, writer and multidisciplinary artist
  • Claudia Schmuckli, director and chief curator of Blaffer Art Museum

In addition to the Mitchell Center, other Building Bridges grantees are Art2Action, Davis Performing Arts Center, the Cedar Cultural Center, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center and Wesleyan Center for the Arts.