Donnelley Foundation grants to help tell underrepresented stories

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation (the Foundation)—which supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Chicago—announced the 11 recipients of the its groundbreaking “Broadening Narratives” initiative, which aims to fund specific collections projects that bring forward underrepresented stories.

This announcement represents the second round of organizations to receive the Broadening Narratives grant. The projects collectively illustrate BIPOC communities, LGBTQ+ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints.  The three Lowcountry-based projects or organizations are Clemson University, the Gibbes Museum of Art, and The Educational Foundation of the University of South Carolina Lancaster’s Native American Studies Center.

The eight Chicago-based organizations are the Bronzeville Black Chicagoan Historical Society, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Public Art Group, Lewis University, Muslim American Leadership Alliance, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, South Side Community Art Center, and Trickster Cultural Center.

Additionally, the foundation renewed its $25,000 grant to each of the five Broadening Narratives advisory groups that assisted with the formation of that funding initiative: the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library, Southeastern Museums Conference, Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium, and the Chicago Cultural Alliance.

“While the purpose of collections is to ensure that stories are preserved, many narratives are often overlooked because of decisions based on race, gender, sexual identity, educational background, economic or social status, or because they are perceived to be outside the conventional thinking of the day,” said David Farren, foundation executive director. “We are thrilled to announce these grant recipients and want to thank these organizations for being part of this new way forward in collections thinking that shifts focus from the processing of material objects to the telling of broader and more inclusive narratives.”

The Lowcountry-based organizations and projects to be funded by Broadening Narratives:

  • Clemson University will partner with the nationally registered Seashore Farmers’ Lodge and the Sol Legare community to provide collections management training; conduct conservation assessment, treatment, and interpretation for objects in the collection; and develop manuals for ongoing care and management. The project will shed light on the site, which was once the heart and backbone of the early African-American community providing farmers aid and insurance in a time of need in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

“The historic African American community of Sol Legare in the Lowcountry of South Carolina is unique in the measures that community members have taken to interpret and preserve their history in the built environment and cultural objects,” says Dr. Jon Marcoux, director of Clemson’s Historic Preservation program.  “The community’s historical importance has gone unrecognized in broader narratives of the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights eras. The project has the authenticity of fourth-generation residents playing an intricate role in protecting hundreds of donated objects that represent the full 150-year-old history of Sol Legare. We are honored to partner with the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation to preserve and share this significant collection.”

  • The Gibbes Museum of Art will create an exhibition drawing parallels between noted Charleston Renaissance artist Ned Jennings and British Aesthete and artist Aubrey Beardsley, re-contextualizing the Renaissance by examining the historically taboo topic of LGBTQIA+ contributions to the art world, still largely untold in the South. In particular, the exhibit will consider the role of queer artists in the Charleston arts community and the influence of queer aesthetics on the Charleston Renaissance via an exploration of Jennings’ works and life.

“By considering the impact of the British Aestheticism movement of the late 19th century on one of Charleston’s most original artistic minds, Edward “Ned” I.R. Jennings, we’re able to engage in a long overdue conversation about the LGBTQIA+ influences, histories, and kinship networks that existed between World Wars I and II when the visual arts flourished; a period that would become known as the Charleston Renaissance,” Gibbes Museum of Art Executive Director Angela Mack said. “Thanks to the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation’s commitment to telling this story, we are able to reengage with the work of an artist whose life was tragically cut short and whose originality and impact for too long has been marginalized.”

  • The Educational Foundation of the University of South Carolina Lancaster’s Native American Studies Center (NASC) will continue its study of South Carolina’s Native American peoples, their histories, and their cultures by gathering oral histories, artifacts, and conducting research related to Lowcountry tribes. The Lowcountry was a significant site for Native American tribes across the region for trade and was a nexus for interaction with European settlers and enslaved Africans.

“Very little scholarly work has been done to document and preserve the living traditions of South Carolina Native Americans, particularly in the Lowcountry. The small, often isolated but vibrant Native communities have existed largely under the radar of outside scholars. Some members of these communities were enslaved by European colonists; others found their tribal communities driven to near extinction. Some identified, at times, as white; others were labeled as African American. With the generous support of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the NASC will help document, preserve, and share these rich cultural traditions maintained by the life experiences and in the memories of the elders and leaders of these communities,” said Dr. Stephen Criswell, NASC Director.

Criswell, Hub readers might remember, is a 2018 recipient of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award. The Gibbes Museum is a 2019 recipient of the South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts.

Readers curious about the Chicago-based grant recipients can read more about them here.


About Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supports land conservation, artistic vitality, and regional collections for the people of the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

For over five years, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation has convened five advisory groups to assist with the formation and execution of the Broadening Narratives funding initiative by providing important feedback, keeping the Foundation apprised of trends in the field, and serving as valuable connectors and conveners. The groups include Black Metropolis Research Consortium, Chicago Collections Consortium, Chicago Cultural Alliance, College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library, and the Southeastern Museums Conference.

For more information on the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, visit www.gddf.org.


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