Our first large-scale domestic effort was 2016’s “What is American culture?” project, announced in this video back in November 2015. To catalyze reflection on this important question, CiH founder William Harvey visited all 50 states in the USA—one week per state—in a collaborative, educational, and participatory quest to highlight the many strands that combine to form the American cultural tapestry. In each state, he performed American music, interviewed people about what American culture means to them, and conducted workshops designed to encourage reflection on the topic. In a divisive presidential election year, this project affirmed our common experience and celebrated the diversity and tolerance that show us at our finest.
Click on a state to view the definitions of American culture people provided, as well as the videos, reports, essays, photos, interviews, and artistic collaborations from that state:
The Lilly Endowment contributed a grant of $7,500, which underwrote the performance of music from Indiana by composers such as David Baker, Don Freund, Michael Schelle, Nicholas Csicsko, and William Harvey. Here is a full list of music performed on the project. For $1,000, the following individuals sponsored a state:
- AK—Bruce and Helena Barbour
- IA—Elizabeth Owens and Bill Brock
- IN—Mimi Zweig
- MI—Carmen McGrae
- MD—Galen Tromble
- NJ—Ruth Goldston
- NM—Julian Grant
- NY—Dianne McKeever and Shreyas Gupta
The project used the hashtag #americancultureis to encourage individuals to contribute their definitions of American culture on Twitter, Vine, Facebook, Reddit, or Instagram; the project also included a board on Pinterest.
Other work in the USA
Our previous work in the United States has encompassed efforts to unite different ethnic communities within the US as well as projects bringing musicians from abroad to connect with Americans.
From 2009 to 2010, Juntos con Vecinos (JCV) bridged cultures through music in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, USA. JCV involved a year-long series of cultural exchange concerts and music classes at Culturarte, the Dominican cultural center founded by the pioneer of metapoetry, Dr. Jorge Piña, and Karina Rieke. Classes met each Saturday and were free. Graduates of The Juilliard School taught piano, violin, and dance. Every month, we organized monthly cultural exchange concerts at Culturarte’s performance space. Each concert included classical music, Latin music, and crossover. Each event concluded with a reception catered by Culturarte volunteers and featuring Dominican cuisine.
In 2011, we helped bring Tunisian musicians Senda Zayati and Amani Jebali to learn and perform at New York Summer Music Festival and in New York City. This exciting project enabled hundreds of Americans to meet two talented young Tunisian musicians who are also wonderful people. CiH contributed major funding to this effort, as did the Williamson Foundation for Music.