Penumbra Theatre Microgrant

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Penumbra Theatre
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
December 2019
End Date
August 2021
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Weathering, a new play in-progress written by Harrison David Rivers and directed by Talvin Wilks, explores the histories and health outcomes for mothers of color in America. To generate authentic voice and representation, Penumbra’s developing deep engagement opportunities with Rivers and Minnesota’s healthcare professionals/caregivers with help from black doula/midwife circles, and from this commission’s two official sponsors, Regions Hospital and Healthpartners.

Competitive Grant Making Body
Advisory Group Members and Qualifications

Kee Vang (St Paul, MN) Kee was a part of the Truth and Transformation conference/work with MHC, and is also serving on the Hmong cultural heritage panel. He is Hmong.

Leyla Suleiman (Minneapolis, MN) Leyla is a first year educator, author in the Crossroads: Somali Youth Anthology, and was a panelist for the Community Partner Fund and is also serving in the Somali cultural heritage panel. She is Somali.

Hibaq Mohamed (Minneapolis, MN) Hibaq is an MHC Increase Engagement facilitator, author in the Crossroads: Somali Youth Anthology, and is also serving in the Somali cultural heritage panel. She is Somali.

Conflict of Interest Disclosed
Conflict of Interest Contact

Laura Benson

Minnesota Humanities Center


Legal Citation / Subdivision
Minn. State Legislature Article 4, Section 2, Subdivision 8, (d)
Appropriation Language

$850,000 the first year and $850,000 the second year are for a competitive grants program to provide grants to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Humanities Center must operate a competitive grants program to provide grants to programs that preserve and honor the cultural heritage of Minnesota or that provide education and student outreach on cultural diversity or to programs that empower communities to build their identity and culture. Priority must be given to grants for individuals and organizations working to create, celebrate, and teach indigenous arts and cultural activities and arts organizations and programs preserving, sharing, and educating on the arts and cultural heritage of immigrant communities in Minnesota.

2020 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Direct expenses
Number of full time equivalents funded
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Throughout drafting process, Penumbra will facilitate conversations between playwright Harrison David Rivers and caregivers. With the help of institutional and community partners we will weave together the unique experience of motherhood across cultures and time. This process will create a feedback loop. The stories and statistics of weathering and black motherhood will enlighten caregivers, who, through public forums and intimate workshops, will inform the shape and content of the play itself. Penumbra’s fully produced commission will broadcast these challenges and opportunities to audiences.

Measurable Outcome(s)

After several meetings with Harrison Rivers (playwright), Talvin Wilks (provisional director) and Sarah Bellamy (Penumbra’s Artistic Director), the first draft is complete. This spring we planned to conduct an intimate reading with representatives from project partners Regions Hospital and HealthPartners, as well as from grassroots orgs with whom we're still developing relationships. They're helping us to include doctors and nurses and community-based caregivers and daughters of color who can contribute to our new play.

This work has been put on hold due to the planetary pandemic. We’re currently working with stakeholders to continue workshops and networking virtually. Final production remains track for Fall 2021 (FY22)

Recipient Board Members
Jovanté Anyabwelé, Shamayne Braman, Sarah Bellamy, Paul Acito, Jeannine Befidi, Matthew Branson, Melanie Douglas, Marcus Fischer, Carson Funderburk, Duane Johnson, Kevin Maler, Mark A. McLellan, Layla Nouraee, Robert Olafson, Jeffrey N. Saunders, Tim Sullivan, Joseph Wald, David L. Welliver
Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Penumbra Theatre
Street Address
270 North Kent Street
St. Paul
Zip Code
Administered By
Administered by

987 Ivy Avenue East
St. Paul, MN 55106

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