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Where to Find Arts and Humanities Funding | Historic Preservation | Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

Where to Find Funding for Arts and Humanities Projects

Where to Find Arts and Humanities Funding | Historic Preservation | Wisconsin Historical Society

Both state and national grant programs are available to fund arts and humanities projects. Many of these are consistent with the mission of historic preservation groups. For example, your preservation group might find financial assistance from these programs to develop a walking tour of historic buildings or to preserve a collection of historic building photographs.

The grant programs described below offer a diverse range of opportunities for your preservation group's projects.

Public Education Grants

If your preservation group needs funding for a public education project, you might find some help from the Wisconsin Humanities Council (WHC). The WHC provides a steady flow of grant money to nonprofit groups throughout the state. Most WHC grants go to public educational programs such as exhibits, publications, films, tours, and events. Projects often have local or regional appeal. Both major grants and mini grants are awarded twice each year.

Here are some examples of WHC grants:

  • $10,000 to Historic Milwaukee, Inc. for the "Doors Open Milwaukee"; event
  • $10,000 to The Phipps Center for the Arts (Hudson) for "The Power of Language: The Natural Step in Pursuit of Sustainable Communities"
  • $6,617 to the Richland County Historical Society for the documentary film, "Country School: One Room, One Nation"
  • $2,400 to the Mineral Point Historical Society for "Capturing the Personal and Architectural History of Mineral Point, Wisconsin"
  • $2,000 to the Neenah Historical Society for "Neenah Notables: the Pentagon and the Architecture of George Edwin Bergstrom"
  • $1,943 to the Bay View Historical Society (Milwaukee) for "Community: A Place Where We All Belong"
  • $1,295 to the Waunakee Public Library for "Surroundings: Preservation and the Environment"
  • $564 to the Vernon County Historical Society (Viroqua) for "Black Hawk Trail Driving Tour Through Vernon County" brochures
  • $500 to the City of Marshfield Historic Preservation Committee for "Marshfield Historic District Walking Tour" brochures

For information on applying for grants through this program, visit the WHC grants page.

National Arts and Humanities Grants

Two federal government agencies support a diverse range of arts and humanities projects. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) both fund projects that are consistent with the mission of preservation and history groups. Typically the projects funded by these agencies involve educational outreach efforts that also touch on national themes. NEA and NEH grants tend to be larger than those offered by the WHC.

Design Project Grants

If your preservation group is struggling with a complicated design issue that requires expert help, consider applying for an NEA Challenge America Fast-Track Review grant. The types of projects that are eligible for funding under this program include:

  • Architectural study
  • Design competition
  • Charrette
  • Feasibility study

Note that the name of this program sometimes changes with a change in the administration.

Preservation Assistance Grants

If your preservation group needs help caring for and preserving artifacts such as photographs, documents, maps, or furniture, consider applying for an NEH Preservation Assistance Grant. To be considered for this type of grant, your group will need to seek assistance from a consultant with archival and preservation skills related to the type of artifact you wish to preserve. Preservation Assistance Grants cannot be used for capital improvements.

The Lake States Railway Historical Association in Baraboo received $4,436 through the Preservation Assistance Grants program. The grant was used to assess the group's archives, which include over 100 collections of corporate records, route maps, government and industry publications, labor meeting notes, union contracts, drawings, and blueprints. The collections document the history of railroads and industries in the Upper Great Lakes region during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Capacity-Building Grants

If your preservation group needs help with capacity-building as part of your group's long-term plan, consider applying for an NEH Challenge Grant. This type of grant is often used to create an endowment for facility maintenance. In some cases, an NEH Challenge Grant can be used to construct and renovate facilities or conserve a collection.

In 2009, the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo received a $45,000 NEH Challenge Grant to support planning as the group developed a new interpretation of the Aldo Leopold Shack and Farm. Aldo Leopold was a key figure in the conservation movement, and his home and farm are now a center for learning about his life and ethics.

Learn More

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