A grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) will help Lafayette College fund and expand a 30-month program to increase understanding among young adults for art and culture in contemporary Muslim societies.

With the $204,000 grant from APAP’s “Building Bridges: Arts, Culture, and Identity program,” Lafayette will extend “‘I Am Muslim’: Experiencing the Arts of Contemporary Muslim Societies” at the Williams Center for the Arts through early 2019. The program offers a series of arts festivals and learning opportunities to provide an ongoing campus-community forum for dialogue to increase knowledge, understanding, and appreciation among college students and other young adults (18 to 34 years of age) of the great diversity of Muslim societies and artistic expression. The program began Sept. 1, 2016 and will now continue through Feb. 28, 2019.

The APAP grant is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

“We are pleased with the innovative approaches and the range of communities that will benefit from this new round of awards.  It shows that there is a growing commitment towards using the arts as a strategy to lead positive change around the awareness and perceptions of Muslim identity in this country,” said Scott Stoner, vice president of programs and resources at APAP. “The projects are truly inspiring and will create opportunities for both campus and community audiences to participate in a more meaningful way with artists and their work.”

“‘I Am Muslim’: Experiencing the Arts of Contemporary Muslim Societies” leverages Lafayette’s strengths in social justice and the arts and focuses on building connected communities. The project is led by Jennifer Kelly, associate professor of music and director of the arts; Hollis Ashby, artistic and executive director of the performance series of the Williams Center for the Arts; and The Rev. Alexandra Hendrickson, director of religious and spiritual life and college chaplain.

On campus, the project connects Muslims and non-Muslims. In the larger community it engages young people in the Lehigh Valley area. Together, participants explore a rich variety of Muslim artistic voices and perspectives while seeking to break down barriers among peoples and cultures, challenge assumptions and prejudices, and foster connections and understanding.

Over a 30-month period and working in collaboration with a group of Williams Center Performance Series visiting artists, Lafayette and the College’s partners will curate a sequence of three festivals (two in autumn 2017 and 2018 and another in spring 2018) designed to recognize, explore, and celebrate artistic expression and meaning in contemporary Muslim cultures throughout the world and in the U.S.

Each festival will build upon core performances by Muslim artists as part of the Williams Center for the Arts’ Performance Series. These and other visiting artists participate in campus and community residencies connecting music, theater, and dance with a wide array of disciplines, such as Africana studies, anthropology and sociology, creative writing, engineering, film and media studies, history, international affairs, mathematics, natural sciences, philosophy, religious studies, and the visual arts. The artist residencies will include workshops, master classes, demonstrations, studio sessions, lectures, panel discussions, talk-backs, question-and-answer forums, readings, writing labs, public programs, learning groups, and conversations occurring both on campus and in the community.


About Lafayette: Lafayette is a highly selective, national liberal arts college in Easton, Pa. with 2,450 students and 215 full-time faculty, offering a wide variety of undergraduate degree programs including engineering.

About APAP: The Association of Performing Arts Presenters is the national service, advocacy, and membership organization for presenters of the performing arts. APAP is dedicated to developing and supporting a robust performing arts industry and the professionals who work within it.

About the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation:  The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research, and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties.

The mission of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art is to promote the study and understanding of Islamic arts and cultures.”


Online release available: http://ow.ly/y216304Ou9T

Kristine Y. Todaro
Director/Special Projects & Media Relations
Lafayette College
Twitter: @LafColNews