Miami Dade College’s (MDC) MDC Live Arts was one of only eleven organizations nationwide to be awarded through the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts (DDFIA)’s Building Bridges 2016-2017 Grants Program, which sought arts- and culture-based projects that align with their goals to advance relationships, increase understanding and reduce bias between Muslim and non-Muslim communities nationwide.
MDC Live Arts will receive $160,000 for Ojalá/Inshallah: Wishes from the Muslim World, a season-long initiative designed to challenge widespread assumptions concerning contemporary Muslim identity. Its 2017-2018 season will be dedicated to the presentation of Muslim and MENA artists through performances, residencies, campus-based conversations, and community workshops. The programs will span music, dance, theater, spoken word and multimedia, and will take place all around Miami. The season line up will be announced in August 2017.
The Spanish word “ojalá” means “I wish” or “I hope so” and derives its meaning from the Arabic phrase “insha’Allah” or “God willing.” The word is a reminder of the Moorish impact on the Spanish language and Hispanic identity shared by 65% of greater Miami’s 5.5 million residents. The word also represents the cross‐cultural exchange that is central to the project, a process of particular relevance to Miami with its uniquely multicultural community.
“We are truly grateful to the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts for its support, allowing us to create programming that promotes understanding and encourages meaningful intercultural connections. For too many people, mass media representations are the principal influencers of their understandings of the Muslim world. With this project, we aim to provide alternative representations, illuminating the breadth of diversity present in the Muslim world while creating safe spaces where our community can explore commonalities that transcend differences.” said Kathryn Garcia, executive director of MDC Live Arts.
It is readily apparent that the need for such work is more urgent than ever before: a February 2017 report from the Southern Poverty Law Center cites a 197 percent surge in anti-Muslim hate groups in 2016.
“Prejudice and division had a banner year in 2016, but this has only furthered the resolve and ambition of these organizations to advance this critical undertaking to heal our communities,” said Zeyba Rahman, senior program officer of DDFIA’s Building Bridges Program. “This year’s Building Bridges grantees have proposed inventive arts-based solutions to strengthen the social fabric between American Muslims and non-Muslims for the benefit of our nation. Art and culture are among the most powerful forces to remind us that we are more alike than different.”
A panel of five subject expert reviewers recommended these projects for support over a period of one to three years. Other winners include: Bang on a Can (Brooklyn, NY); Boston Center for the Arts in Boston, Mass.; Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) in San Francisco, Calif.; Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) in Minneapolis, Minn; Duke Performances at Duke University in Durham, N.C.; Fells Point Creative Alliance in Baltimore, Md.; Lincoln Center Theater (LCT) in New York, N.Y.; Museum of Durham History in Durham, N.C.; Proteus Fund in Amherst, Mass.; and Young Writers Project in Burlington, Vt.
Learn more about how you can make a difference at www.mdcfoundation.com