Proposals

Business Models for Nonprofit Preservation and Heritage/ Logan Hinderliter
Most nonprofits in Rhode Island that focus on preservation and heritage work are stuck between a rock and a hard place: How do we maximize access to, and engagement with, histories, buildings, stories, etc., while at the same time, put bread on the table? The answer generally boils down to: grants, galas, donors, annual funds, and the like. How might we use non-traditional nonprofit business models while maintaining the “integrity” of our mission? At what point does commodifying our work somehow become an existential threat to our mission? Join this session to share your thoughts and ideas.
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Art for All
Art & the humanities: future roles for art museums, perspectives on the role of humanities through art.
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Who Owns Digitized Heritage?/ Taylor Polites and Amy Barlow
The emergence of digital resources that allow the public to reuse media for their own projects is an exciting development in the humanities, but not all collections are public. How do researchers navigate the opportunities and constraints of digital heritage while also recognizing the limits imposed by intellectual property and the commodification of digital sources? Two panelists will offer their perspectives on open digital resources in view of their current projects. Taylor Polites will discuss the Pond Street Project, a historic site investigation that proposes a comprehensive digital archive focused on a Providence neighborhood that was drastically altered by redevelopment programs of the mid-20th century. Amy Barlow will discuss Gone but Not Forgotten: Providence Vaudeville and the Kammerer-Howland Collection, an archival project looking for digital venues.
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Hacking out a LGBTQ Heritage Trail/ Kate Monteiro
LGBTQ history is rooted in this place (Providence and the state as a whole). What would it take to put together a “freedom trail”/”heritage walk”/”historic sites map” artifact or a “living tour” of RI LGBTQ history? Building on recent efforts of local LGBTQ community historians and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission and Providence Public Library, we’d like to think about what kinds of experience can historian-minded folks create that listens to/speaks with/adds to/commemorates/situates/grounds a living, growing changing community.
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The Darkest Timeline: Providences that Never Were, and Maybe Shouldn’t Have Been/
Janaya Kizzie
From the masonic temple, to the Pawsox Stadium, to Amazon headquarters, this will be a chance to discuss, and maybe create a usable list of, all the city projects planned for Providence that never happened, and to speculate on what might have become of the present if these things made up our past. Are there useful lessons these alternate timelines might teach us?
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The Art of the Happening/ Janaya Kizzie
How do we remember if “you had to be there?” Working with the records of the Urban Pond Procession and AS220, whose performances have leaned heavily on performance art, weird parties, and social action as art, Providence Public Library has been wrestling with how to represent things that aren’t quite documentable. Let’s start the session with an art happening of our own, then discuss how to describe what we did and how to honor and preserve other ineffable parts of our creative heritage.
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Rosa Parks: Sites of Strength and Shelter/ Steven Lubar
Toni Morrison writes, in her essay “Home”:
“If I had to live in a racial house, it was important, at the least, to rebuild it so that it was not a windowless prison into which I was forced, a thick-walled, impenetrable container from which no cry could be heard, but rather an open house, grounded, yet generous in its supply of windows and doors. Or, at the most, it became imperative for me to transform this house completely.”
How might this apply to various homes, physical, symbolic, and organizational, that Rosa Parks occupied during her long life of activism? Jasmine Chu, Amelia Golcheski, and Steven Lubar will describe the work they’ve done to give context to the Rosa Parks house project on display at WaterFire Arts Center.
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Year of the City: the Providence Project Brainstorming Session/ Marisa Brown
Year of the City: The Providence Project (2019) is an unprecedented year-long collaboration bringing together over 30 historical and cultural institutions in Providence and individuals participating as artists, performers, curators, and storytellers to probe aspects of the city’s past, present, and future built and imagined landscape(s) in every one of the city’s 25 neighborhoods. Inspired by Pacific Standard Time in Los Angeles — a groundbreaking collaborative arts project that brought together over 60 museums, galleries, social action organizations, and cultural centers to present original programming on the city’s postwar arts scene in 2012/13 — Year of the City: The Providence Project produces new knowledge about the city we call home while bringing together a wide diversity of individuals and institutions. Through exhibitions and public programs, some of them digital, Year of the City participants will ask critical questions about transformations in the city with regard to issues of power, equity, social division and/or connection, design, and planning. This program is still in development; let’s gather and brainstorm ideas about how to make it inclusive, dynamic and impactful.
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Some of us can’t keep it all, but can all of us keep some of it?/ Richard Ring
Telling lasting heritage stories depends upon evidence, and the sources of evidence are collections. No one institution can keep it all, and the model of the monolithic museum bears demonstrated limitations in terms of what (and for whom) it collects. Can we posit creating support and sustainability models (training, incentives, etc.) for a web of privately owned micro-museum collections? Boutique-style in structure, but collaborative in nature, micro-collections individually would cost little to acquire and maintain, but collectively could feed into a system of access, exhibition and interpretation which would allow a multiplicity of stories to be told across a community.
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Partnership + Play: A Case Study/ Bryn Pernot and Leah Burgin
How can cultural heritage sites partner with students to build creative responses to their collections? Over the course of a semester, students in Public Humanities and staff members at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology developed, prototyped, implemented, and evaluated a narrative and series of puzzles as part of “Escape the Haffenreffer: A Hands-On Experience Inspired by Escape Rooms.” Building on this work, we’d like to think about how institutions can partner with students to build new models for interpreting cultural heritage.
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The Shade of Long-gone Forests/ Jeremy Ferris
“Shadow woodlands” exist in an in-between space, when a natural area’s historical and cultural functions are lost or forgotten but traces of the environment remain visible. Experiencing these places, both through our imagination and visiting experiencing them in person, can hint at their history and ecology, but may not offer up many specifics – think of the eeriness of a New England swamp, and what indicators of colonial violence against indigenous people can be seen there. Let’s talk about what shadow woodlands (wooded or otherwise) we encounter and the importance of immersing ourselves in these environments, to understand that place’s ecological and cultural history. The session will build on ideas Jeremy has been working into a visual narrative, with the help of environmental historian and John Carter Brown Research fellow Juliane Schlag.
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Did we fail the Cable Car?/ Conor MacDonald
The beloved Providence-based art cinema is closing its doors. It has been an icon of Providence as a place where culture can flourish in a curious, aware community, away from the scorching heat of real estate markets in other cities, and a beacon for those relocating to Rhode Island (including myself). Did we fail to support the care and effort that went into the hospitality and curation of films they offered? Despite the significance of it as an institution in my own mind, I only bought a ticket once or twice a year. Or is the building owner to blame? Could the City have a role? The Brattle in Cambridge operates as a nonprofit and engages in fundraising–which requires a board of directors and divorces the ownership of the cinema from those that run it. Harvard Film Archive fosters a film culture, but must follow an academic lead, rather than the socially responsive freedom of the Cable Car. The for-profit small business model, however, places all financial strain on the business owners themselves. Or, was it a beautiful product of two individuals vision, and we should be grateful we had it while it lasted–like the cherry blossoms outside? Who owns the legacy of an institution like the Cable Car, and our collective dialogue through film culture, and what are ways to reward those that lead those efforts?

 

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