APAP Awards $1,416,000 in Grants for Building Bridges: Arts, Culture and Identity Program

A group of Minnesota-based organizations led by The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis will receive funding for a program that expands awareness of Muslim arts and culture.

A Minnesota-based consortium led by The Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis has been awarded a grant totaling $500,000 from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) for the Building Bridges: Arts, Culture and Identity program to build knowledge and appreciation for arts and culture with roots in Muslim-majority societies. The consortium includes The Cedar, a nonprofit performing arts organization with a mission to promote intercultural appreciation and understanding through global music, and Augsburg College in Minneapolis; the Paramount Center for the Arts and St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, and the Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music Performance Series.

This grant program is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA) and serves as a unique medium for both foundations to partner with APAP to support mission-critical projects that demonstrate the power of the arts to strengthen communities and increase intercultural understanding across America.

The grant will expand and sustain Midnimo, a program launched by The Cedar and Augsburg College in 2014 with the support of an APAP Building Bridges: Campus and Community Engagement grant funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Named using the Somali word for “unity,” Midnimo features Somali artists from Minnesota and around the world in residencies and events that increase understanding of Muslim culture through music. With activities taking place on campus and throughout the community, Midnimo has reached more than 12,500 audience members since its launch. Midnimo has served as a platform to establish a culture of unity and understanding between Somalis and non-Somalis, strengthened community connections, and created opportunities for Somalis to connect with their culture.

One of five funded projects in the nation, Midnimo is the only project led by a consortium of partners. The consortium was developed in response to a demonstrated demand for Midnimo in St. Cloud and Mankato – areas of Minnesota with rapidly growing Somali populations. Through this grant, The Cedar and its partners are forming a touring network that will expand the program’s geographical reach and impact to areas of Greater Minnesota with growing Somali populations.

The Cedar’s Executive Director Adrienne Dorn says, “Midnimo is supporting the revival and preservation of rich Somali musical traditions while fostering social connections between generations and cultures in the heart of the largest Somali diaspora in North America. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work as part of this consortium to share the work of these impactful artists to audiences throughout Minnesota.”

The grant will support multi-week residencies featuring leading Somali artists in all three cities from 2016-2019, deepening the relationships between diverse Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The first residency will kick off in the Twin Cities on October 3rd, culminating in a public finale performance at The Cedar on October 22nd, followed by a St. Cloud residency culminating in a public finale performance at Paramount Center for the Arts on November 4th, with an additional concert at the Kato Ballroom in Mankato on October 28th. The residency will feature Waayaha Cusub (“New Era”), a Somali hip-hop collective founded in Kenya in 2004 by lyricist and rapper Shiine Akhyaar Ali. With a message that challenges militants and extremist politics, Waayaha Cusub is recognized for its artistry as well as its activism. As leaders who speak out against war, violence, and oppressive leadership, the artists have endured death threats and violent attacks. In 2007, Shiine was shot five times by militants. Regardless, the band has pressed on, receiving positive media coverage by CNN, Rolling Stone, The LA Times, Vice Magazine, BBC, and others. The group was recently granted asylum in the Netherlands where they are completing their newest album, Nabad Waa Muhim (“Peace is Vital”). These residencies will be the first time the group has performed in the Unites States. Backed by a band of local instrumentalists including members of the popular St. Paul-based hip-hop group Heiruspecs, the residency will build bridges between Somali and non-Somali communities on and off-campuses.

“We are pleased with the innovative approaches and the range of communities that will benefit from this new round of awards.  It shows that there is a growing commitment towards using the arts as a strategy to lead positive change around the awareness and perceptions of Muslim identity in this country,” said Scott Stoner, vice president of programs and resources at APAP. “The projects are truly inspiring and will create opportunities for both campus and community audiences to participate in a more meaningful way with artists and their work.”

Consortium Grantee:

The Cedar Cultural Center with Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN

Department of Music Performance Series at Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN

Paramount Center for the Arts with St. Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, MN

Individual Grantees:

Fine & Performing Arts Center at Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL

Hancher Auditorium at The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Williams Center for the Arts at Lafayette College, Easton, PA


About The Cedar Cultural Center

Mission: The Cedar’s mission is to promote intercultural appreciation and understanding through the presentation of global music and dance. The Cedar is committed to artistic excellence and integrity, diversity of programming, support for emerging artists, and community outreach.

About APAP

The Association of Performing Arts Presenters is the national service, advocacy and membership organization for presenters of the performing arts. APAP is dedicated to developing and supporting a robust performing arts industry and the professionals who work within it.  APAP|NYC conference information APAPNYC.org, APAP membership information APAP365.org , Twitter @APAP365, Facebook facebook.com/APAPNYC.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The Arts Program of DDCF focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org.

About the Building Bridges Program

The Building Bridges Program is the grant-making arm of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA), which is an extension of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). Based in New York, the Building Bridges Program supports national efforts to advance relationships, increase understanding, and reduce bias between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. For more information, please visit www.ddcf.org/what-we-fund/building-bridges.