Proposal submitted on: 10/29/21
Grant period: 1/1/22 – 12/31/24
View project budget for proposal here.
Download full proposal as a pdf here.
Quilt Alliance Proposal for the Robert and Ardis James Foundation
Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories 2.0: Sustain, Envision, Connect (Years 3-5)
October 29, 2021
To fund years three through five of a five-year plan to sustain and care for the historic QSOS oral history project, envision new ways to interpret and present the collection and to use an inclusive partnership strategy to help groups document the stories in their communities.
Funding request to the Robert and Ardis James Foundation:
We are seeking $81,065, 39% of the project costs of Years Three, Four and Five of this plan.
As we near the midpoint of the five-year vision introduced in our November 2019 proposal, these objectives have been realized:
Some activities planned for 2020 and 2021 were converted into future programming due to the Covid-19 pandemic and an inability to gather in-person. Our planned Regional Quilt Documentation project wasn’t possible due to travel restrictions. Instead, we used this opportunity to develop Quilt StoryShare, a flexible model for remote recording and digital video sharing. We postponed the Ardis James QSOS scholars program until 2022 to coincide with the postponed Not Fade Away conference, and to better utilize the newly available QSOS interviews currently in the migration pipeline.
In the next three years, project activities will address project infrastructure, curatorial content and community outreach and engagement.
Sustain: Reopening QSOS for Research and Submissions and Organizational Sustainability
QSOS migration and indexing – We will finish QSOS work that slowed during the pandemic and make improvements to the QSOS website that will allow us to transition back to a grassroots/user-submission model for building the collection. We will improve the usability of searching and browsing on the website. We will make all interviews accessible by Jan 1, 2023 and work with a web developer to adapt our web interface to allow for new curated content. Improvements will include: adding galleries, spotlight essays, and enhancing browse options (by project, by state, date). Our budget includes two time-limited contract positions, ideally filled by students in the Graduate Certificate Program in Quilt Studies at the University of Nebraska or other contractors with a research interest in quilts, to ensure a consistent and timely completion of interview indexes. We now realize that because this task requires some specialized skills and a significant labor and training investment, it’s unlikely that a small pool of volunteer-only labor will be able to complete the migration in a timely manner.
Restarting QSOS interview collection – In 2018, the QSOS project’s existing database went offline, necessitating the migration to the updated QSOS website currently in use. As we were re-considering how to present and share interviews online and beginning our partnership with the Nunn Center at the University of Kentucky, we decided to pause new interview collection in order to re-envision the future of the QSOS project. QSOS interview protocols and methods had not significantly evolved since its launch in 1999, but new technologies and developments in oral history best practices have emerged in the intervening years. In 2022, we will begin intensive planning for re-opening the project to new interviews with an improved grassroots model ahead of a full re-launch of the program in 2023, our 30th anniversary year. This work will be guided by a QSOS steering committee with longstanding connections to both the quiltmaking and oral history communities, with opportunities for piloting the new model with partner groups in 2022 and early 2023.
Addressing organizational sustainability – The Quilt Alliance board is committed to adjusting staff pay to meet current fair market rates for nonprofits of our size and scope. Alliance staff includes an executive director (full time, salaried), a projects manager (30 hours/week, paid hourly) and an office manager (20 hours per week, paid hourly). Ten board members are unpaid volunteers who contribute 2-10 hours of in-kind labor per month. Staff compensation is currently just over half that of comparable organizations’ and this will be addressed via progressive adjustments to salary and pay rates over the next three years.
Envision: The Ardis James QSOS Scholars Program
We will expand the Ardis James QSOS Scholars program to enlist participants who can envision new uses for QSOS content and bring the collection to the public in a vivid and accessible format. We plan to begin selecting two scholars every other year and integrate each cohort in programming for that year. In 2022 Scholars will be chosen from board and staff nominated candidates. With the establishment of a formal application process in 2024, they will be chosen through an open call and application process. Their responsibilities will include curating the QSOS collection to create galleries, essays or creative works for sharing on the QSOS and Alliance websites, and presenting talks or panels for the Not Fade Away conference, Quilters Take a Moment and Textile Talks events. The Ardis James QSOS Scholars webpages will be updated to showcase the original research outcomes that each new scholar contributes. This content will also be linked from the
Connect: Quilt StoryShare and Running Stitch, a QSOS Podcast
Quilt StoryShare Initiative – We will work with three partner groups to launch Quilt StoryShare, an inclusive, grassroots model for communities to document their quilts and makers via Quilt Alliance projects. We will continue to broaden the reach of existing quilt history and research by focusing on community partnerships as a way to bring more voices and stories to the QSOS historic collection, and the Go Tell It! user-submitted video project. We will work with four distinct partner groups to assist them in documenting the quilts and makers in their communities:
Our model for many aspects of the Quilt StoryShare Initiative is StoryCorps’s Mobile Tour, a national outreach program (both virtual and in-person) that pairs StoryCorps staff and volunteers with community partners to record and preserve oral histories with members of that community. Quilt StoryShare will involve these steps for each community partner we work with:
Running Stitch, a QSOS podcast – We will produce four more seasons of the Running Stitch podcast to continue raising public awareness of the QSOS collection. Janneken Smucker and QA Oral History Project Manager Emma Parker will develop and publish seasons three through six of Running Stitch, a QSOS Podcast with content based on themes including:
Running Stitch interviews are also archived with the Nunn Center as a sub-project of QSOS, so the complete interviews with each podcast guest will be available to listeners interested in exploring these topics further.
Project and Organizational Background:
The Quilt Alliance is the only organization committed to documenting every member of the quilting community: from traditional quilters to art quilters, first-time quilters to quilt collectors and museum curators. The Quilt Alliance’s Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories project is the single largest grassroots oral history project about quiltmakers in the world. Go Tell It at the Quilt Show is the first video oral history project documenting quilt stories from quiltmakers and owners.
In 2023, the Quilt Alliance will celebrate its 30th year as a national nonprofit. The Alliance started as a small, all-volunteer group of historians, collectors, artists, archivists and digital humanities experts dedicated to finding an online home for documentation generated by the state documentation projects during the American Quilt Revival in the 1970s. The Alliance is now a professionally run organization with a nimble team of three staff and ten board members and a substantial network of stakeholders and partners. We weathered the financial crisis of 2008, three office relocations and most recently adapted to the unprecedented challenges of a pandemic. Our virtual roots prepared us well to stay in touch with our members and our partners and to continue the important work of taking historic “snapshots” of life and quilting during unprecedented times, for posterity, and equally important, in service to our community. As one member said, “The QA has been a sanity keeper during the pandemic.” Our 30th anniversary mantra underscores the urgency of documenting, preserving and sharing quilt history: No More Anonymous Quiltmakers!
Roadmap for Five-Year Goals
|2020||2021||2022||2023 (30th anniversary)||2024|
|Programming & initiatives||Textile Talks|
Members-only QSOS interviews
StoryShare pilot with Sacred Threads, IQM, The Quilt Show and museums
StoryShare guild challenge and partner project launch
|StoryShare partner projects||StoryShare partner projects|
|QSOS Activities||New QSOS website and protocol finalized|
Interview digitization completed
|Volunteer training began|
Large-scale interview migration began
|Contract and Alliance staff migrate and index QSOS interviews to new site|
Ardis James QSOS scholars cohort 1
|Planning and early-stage testing for re-launch of QSOS project|
Ongoing curation and feature of existing interviews
|Public programming and grassroots interview collection underway|
Ardis James QSOS Scholars cohort 2
|Podcast||Podcast launches–Season 1||Season 2 & 3released||Season 4-6|
|Fundraising & events||Quilters Take a Moment||Quilters Take a Moment||Not Fade Away conference||Quilters Take Manhattan||Not Fade Away conference|