N.H. Humanities Seeks to Bridge Gap Between Culture and Business

Mar 13, 2018

The cultural organization New Hampshire Humanities has a new executive director. Anthony Poore will now lead the group.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Poore about his future plans for the organization.


 (Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

So tell us a little bit more about what New Hampshire Humanities actually does. I'm sure listeners are wondering what is it?

Well I appreciate you asking. New Hampshire Humanities provides opportunities to cultivate curiosity, to connect across cultures, examine beliefs, practice civility, strengthen community bonds and really inspire for learning and doing really engage in civic society in authentic ways through the lens of the humanities. We've been doing that now here in New Hampshire for over 40 years. We've been engaged in this kind of work for quite a while.

And let's talk about that work. What specifically does the organization do day to day?

We are both a funder of humanities programming across the state, and we're also a direct provider of programming itself. And we use funding of programs around the state and we use our own programming to convene people, again across sector, across ethnicity, across gender to discuss and really consider the issues that are important today.

What was the genesis of this? What was the origin of the [New Hampshire Humanities]?

The National Endowment for the Humanities, and actually the National Endowment for the Arts, began in 1965 under the Lyndon Johnson administration. And it was really a recognition that the humanities are for everyone. They're just not for the elite. That is to say, when you look historically--arts, culture, linguistics, geography, history and so on are really the purview of the wealthy, were the purview of the socialites. It was really a push by the Johnson administration to say no that's not in fact the case. The humanities and the work of that is really intended for everybody.

And expanding them not just for elites and those who would have the means, but also to geographically more rural areas, more diverse areas than otherwise might have access. Right?

Oh absolutely. I think of our state as north of the notch, south of the notch and the Seacoast region. We're a tri-state in one, and our programming extends across all areas.

Can you give me a concrete example of what New Hampshire Humanities could do in my daily life that I see every day?

First, I think it's some of the work in our special projects portion of the organization. For example, we've developed a program entitled From Troy to Baghdad: Dialogues on War and Homecoming. [And this program] is a 10 week reading and discussion group that's called by a veteran, a clinician and a facilitator. You know, these veterans are coming back having experienced things that you and I can never imagine, and the ability to come together and discuss their experience, and how to manage manage for that in their day to day experience, is critically important. One of the things that I'm particularly impressed with would be our connections program and our work in the state prisons. What we're doing through our work is connecting them with their children. We're providing books to prisoners who can come in, get the books for free. They can read these books. We'll record those books and then we'll send those recordings home to their children so we can reinforce the connection between parent and child. So when they do go back, it's not like meeting a stranger. It's just like welcome home. We're blessed to be able provide this programming free of charge to anybody who wants to participate.

And you mentioned you'd like to strengthen connections with businesses. In what way do you see that taking shape?

Well, I think we've all talked about the critical role of having an informed and educated workforce. And I think the humanities are part of that equation. Hard skills, science, technology, engineering, math are critically important. But the idea of developing critical thinking skills, the ability to work in groups and those kinds of things, I think are a clear output of some of our work. And I think what we hope to do is continue to position New Hampshire Humanities as a vital part of that.