Things aren’t looking very bright for the arts and humanities at the moment. In our current age of austerity, arts and humanities budgets are easy targets for spending reductions. In both the United States and Canada, politicians seem focused on cuts. During his 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney identified the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts as programs that should be “eliminated.” Even after softening his tone regarding the arts and humanities, Romney continued to advocate for harsh cuts that legislators are still trying to pass.
Things are not better in Canada. In 2012 the Government of Canada cut the budget of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council by 14 million dollars. In efforts to make the most with their budgets, some Canadian universities are also restricting admission to arts and humanities program, like the University of Alberta that suspended admission to 20 humanities programs in 2013.
While the arts and humanities aren’t likely to disappear any time soon, there is an increasing narrative forming that the arts and humanities don’t matter. Some of us want to change the tone of this discussion, showing the human value of the humanities and making it clear that the humanities matter.
At the Digital Humanities 2013 Conference the founders of the DHMakerBus (Kim Martin, Beth Compton, and Ryan Hunt) together with Alex Gil hatched a plan to share our passion for the humanities with the world. Our plan is to travel across North America filming a web series about why the humanities matter. This summer we will travel to universities, libraries, and schools talking to lovers of the arts and humanities, recording their stories and sharing them on our web series Humanities Matter.
Our website will collect stories, videos, art, blog posts, and our filmed webisodes, putting a human face on the humanities. To help us make this goal a reality, we’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the trip and web series. We’re hoping to raise $15,000 in funding. This money will go towards buying film equipment, building the Humanities Matter website, and contributing to our North American tour to film our series.
We launched our Kickstarter February 4th and in the first 24 hours we received more $2200 from 33 backers. To achieve our funding goal we need to maintain our momentum and to do this we need your help. Every dollar helps support our project, every tweet helps spread the word: the humanities matter because people matter.
If you’d like to support our project, we’re accepting videos from people who believe the humanities matter. We would love a few minutes of your time to film a quick video (webcams are encouraged) explaining why you think the humanities matter. These videos will live on our temporary website (http://www.strikingly.com/humanitiesmatter) until our Humanities Matter web portal is completed. We’ve already received videos from notable figures in the humanities like HASTAC’s Cathy Davidson, the University of Victoria’s Ray Siemens, and 4Humanities’s Alan Lui.
Your support means the world to us, together we can show the human value of the humanities. Help us show why the Humanities Matter.
Ryan Hunt (@Ryan_Hunt) is a co-founder of the DHMakerBus, a project to build Canada’s first mobile makerspace and digital humanities classroom. He is also a graduate student in Public History at Western University. To learn more about the work the DHMakerBus team is doing, visit their project blog www.dhmakerbus.com.