NM Delegation Applauds Nearly $800,000 in Grants to Cultural Organizations Across the State

Funding from CARES Act passed in March will help sustain cultural organizations as the state begins economic recovery efforts from the coronavirus pandemic

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) applauded nearly $800,000 in grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to cultural and historical organizations across the state. The grants represent the second wave of funds from $75 million in supplemental NEH funding as part of the emergency $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that the entire New Mexico delegation voted to pass in March.

The New Mexico Humanities Council will receive a $433,800 NEH grant to support cultural, and educational funding that sustain New Mexico arts communities. Four New Mexico cultural and arts institutions – the Manitos Community Memory Project Digital Archive at New Mexico Highlands University, CENTER in Santa Fe, the Couse Foundation in Taos and the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project in Velarde –will receive a total of $359,491.

“The cultural organizations that make New Mexico so unique are not only the foundation of our culture and links to our history—they also help sustain our state’s economy,” said Udall, top Democrat on the Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies overseeing NEH funding. “That’s why I am continuing to push for expanded federal funding to assist culture and humanities organizations in New Mexico and across the country. Lifting up New Mexico culture and history enriches all of us in so many ways, and is more important than ever during these challenging times. I am looking forward to seeing the work these organizations produce.”

“When we passed the CARES Act, we did so to ensure that every aspect of New Mexico’s economy would be able to apply for the assistance they deserved to stay afloat. I strongly believe we should nurture and invest in our cultural institutions that play an essential role in shaping and preserving our state’s culture, as well as fuel our tourism and creative economy,” said Heinrich. “I am proud to support this National Endowment for the Humanities funding to ensure our communities will continue to benefit from our state’s rich history and culture.”

“New Mexico’s artistic community contributes so much to our state, not just culturally but also economically. It will play an important role in our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and bring tourism to our state once this crisis has passed. I’m pleased that the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded these funds from the CARES Act to support New Mexico’s rich artistic and cultural traditions,” said Luján.

“New Mexico’s history and culture are a draw for tourism and support jobs in our creative economy, but the coronavirus pandemic has put a burden on the organizations who keep our history and cultural resources intact. As any New Mexican knows, when we’re away from home, we can’t help but brag about the people, the food, and the things that make our state special. The funding we included in the CARES Act, acknowledges how unique our state is and the benefits that our culture and history have on our economic wellbeing by funding organizations across the state who are dedicated to celebrating and cultivating all that makes our state a beautiful place,” said Haaland.

“In New Mexico, our many cultures and heritages are a critical part of who we are. In the midst of the COVID-19 public health pandemic and the ensuing economic challenges, this grant will support local economies by sustaining many of our cultural organizations. I’m continuing to work to secure the federal resources New Mexico needs to support our recovery and create new opportunities as we continue to rebuild,” said Torres Small.

The full breakdown in funding is below:

The New Mexico Council for the Humanities, $433,800

Since 1972, the New Mexico Humanities Council (NMHC) has sought to engage New Mexicans with history, culture, and diverse humanities topics through Council-conducted public programs and grant funding for special projects. 

Manitos Community Memory Project Digital Archive, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, $178,353

The Manitos Digital Resolana is a virtual gathering space for manitos, as people from rural northern New Mexico and southern Colorado call themselves. The Digital Resolana supports the Manitos Community Memory Project, an initiative to establish community-based digital cultural heritage archives grounded in the living culture of the villages of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The grant funding will provide resources for three staff members, one postdoctoral associate, two interns, and one faculty member to develop a community archiving project in northeastern New Mexico.

CENTER, Santa Fe, $48,000

CENTER is a nonprofit organization with the mission to honor, support, and provide opportunities for gifted and committed photographers. CENTER's purpose is to provide project support and professional development opportunities to fine art and documentary photographers working with all lens-based media. The grant funding will help retain four staff and contractor positions, with additional stipends for fourteen contributors, to develop a series of online resources exploring the history of photography over the past two decades.

Couse Foundation, Taos, $41,663

The Couse Foundation preserves and documents the work and studios of E. I. Couse and J. H. Sharp, founding members of the Taos Society of Artists. These two painters helped create the cultural fabric of Taos and the West as we know it today. The grant funding will supportthree staff members to undertake the digitization of the Couse Family Photo Collection of approximately 11,000 photographs, many of which served as the studies for E.I. Couse’s paintings, and make them available and accessible through the New Mexico Digital Collections website at the University of New Mexico.

Taos Center for the Arts, Taos, $61,475

Originally established by a group of working artists in 1953 and situated in the heart of Taos, the Taos Center for the Arts serves and engages Northern New Mexico communities. With a 275-seat theater and two galleries, the TCA curates culturally relevant films, art exhibitions, and live performances as well as provides local, regional and internationally renowned artists, thinkers and performers the space to inspire creativity and foster a thriving love for the arts. The grant will help retain two staff members and the creation of seven to twelve new roles to support TCA’s programs to engage communities in New Mexico in conversations about art history, art theory, and filmmaking.

Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project, Velarde, $30,000

Mesa Prieta, meaning ‘dark mesa’, is a thirty-six square mile mesa extending twelve miles in a northeasterly direction. Over 100,000 examples of rock images are estimated to exist on the mesa in addition to other archaeological features. The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project is an all-volunteer organization to survey and record all the petroglyphs on the mesa supported by one full-time coordinator. The grant will support the retention of one core staff member, who will add to their ongoing duties projects that create digital/virtual outreach materials: two digital tours of the petroglyph site and four 3D digital models of petroglyph panels.