Monday, March 19, 2018

From the Archives: Va. Foundation for Humanities increases private funding, helps mark Civil War

Va. Foundation for Humanities increases private funding, helps mark Civil War
March 19, 2011 12:21 AM MST

Sponsored by the Charlottesville-based Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH), the annual Virginia Festival of the Book brings about 25,000 visitors to the city to hear and engage with authors, publishers, book reviewers, and bibliophiles.

Virginia Humanities Robert Vaughan Virginia Festival of the Book
The 2010 festival hosted 160 events featuring 307 authors, drawing visitors from 35 states and at least six foreign countries.

It should come as no surprise, then, that VFH president Robert Vaughan says, “We’re certainly going to continue this annual book festival, there’s no question about that.”

Vaughan spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner at the University of Virginia on March 16, after a presentation on civility in public life by former Iowa congressman Jim Leach, who now serves as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Private giving
Asked about what VFH is doing to encourage private philanthropic giving to promote the humanities in Virginia, Vaughan explained that the foundation has “a very active private giving program. Our private giving has increased over the past five years significantly.”

Even before five years ago, he said, private giving “was getting better and better,” but added that in the past half-decade, “we flipped, actually, from being about 60 to 65 percent either federal or state funding to being about 60-plus percent private funding.”

While the VFH does not have any programs to assist private donors looking for potential recipients, Vaughan did say that “we have increased our earned income, which I think is something that both private donors as well as public donors appreciate.”

Women and minorities
Over the next year, Vaughan said, the VFH will continue its traditional programming activities but it is also branching out.

“We’ve always had a long and strong interest in minority communities and minority cultures,” he explained. “We began focusing on women early on,” as well as on “the black community in Virginia, because it’s large and significant and historic.”

VFH, he added, has recently begun to include Virginia’s Native Americans in its programs.

Vaughan also pointed to a couple of events at the book festival that feature speakers from the Muslim world and the Middle East, and explained that these are related to a fellowship program that started about 18 months ago that also includes “Asian immigration and Latino immigration into the Commonwealth of Virginia and the influence and effects that that’s having on the culture, the community, the sense of place that we have.”

Marking the Civil War sesquicentennial
VFH is also involved in efforts to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, which began in April 1861.

“We have been involved with the Virginia Sesquicentennial [of the American Civil War] Commission,” he said, helping “in a minor way” with the seven conferences the commission is putting on. “There have been two so far. The next one will be on May 21st at Virginia Tech, focusing on military" issues.

A larger project that he described is “building an encyclopedia of Virginia, an entirely on-line, digital publication,” which has been in process for about four years.

“It takes a long time because it is gigantic, as you might imagine,” Vaughan explained. “It can include virtually everything – virtually in both ways” that word is used.

The connection to the Civil War commemoration is that for the past year and a half or so, the encyclopedia “decided to focus on the Civil War because of the timing.”

This digital publication, Vaughan noted, also provides “the content for the Sesquicentennial Commission’s web site on the Civil War,” serving as “the educational component of it.”

The encyclopedia’s virtual pages, he concluded, are “quite a glorious record of the good, the bad, the indifferent, about the Civil War and the way that Virginia was involved.”

The VFH-sponsored Virginia Festival of the Book continues through Sunday, March 20, in and around Charlottesville.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on March 19, 2011. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

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