St. Cloud State University and the Paramount Center for the Arts have joined with a group of cultural organizations led by The Cedar Cultural Center in earning a $500,000 grant to fund a program that expands awareness of Muslim arts and culture.
The grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) will fund the Building Bridges: Arts, Culture and Identity program to build knowledge and appreciation for the arts and culture with roots in Muslim majority societies. The grant also includes Augsburg College in Minneapolis and the Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Music Performance Series.
The program will bring five groups of world-renowned performers to St. Cloud during a 30 month period. Each group will hold a week-long residency to perform at the Paramount and work with students at St. Cloud State and community groups.
“These are performers that we would not have been able to offer on our own,” said Jane Oxton, Paramount director of education and outreach. “… This grant positions us to make the most of what art does best — deepens understanding and brings people together.”
The grant builds on the work the Cedar Cultural Center and Augsburg College have been doing through Midnimo, a program launched in 2014 that features Somali artists from Minnesota and around the world in residences and events that increase understanding of Muslim culture through music.
The first residency in the grant featured Waayaha Cusub, a Somali hip-hop collective founded in Kenya in 2004 by lyricist and rapper Shiine Akhyaar Ali.The second residency in April featured Yasin, a Somali vocalist who performs qaraami singing — a popular Somali music style that evolved in the mid-20th century.
— Raymond Philippot, College of Liberal Arts associate dean and School of the Arts director
Since 2014, Midnimo has reached more than 12,500 audience members and 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.
St. Cloud State and the School of the Arts are proud to be contributing partners in the Building Bridges: Arts, Culture and Identity program and to help expand the work already being done by the Midnimo project, said Raymond Philippot, College of Liberal Arts associate dean and School of the Arts director.
“At a time in our community when unity and cultural awareness are more important than ever, the Midnimo program engages young people from all walks of life through music and social interaction,” he said. “St. Cloud State prides itself on being an open and inclusive institution and the programming that this grant will enable fits well with our values.”
This year St. Cloud State is focused on the commitment of engaging as a member of a diverse and multicultural world through Our Husky Compact, and this programming will give our students another opportunity to interact with people who may be from a culture different than their own, he said.
St. Cloud community organizations partnering with the project include Orange Oak Advertising, Somali Radio, Centrasota Somali Women’s Organization, the St. Cloud Area School District and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota.
The Association of Performing Arts Presenters grant program is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.