Public Impact Grants

The Willson Center Public Impact Grant supports faculty in the organization on campus of conferences, exhibitions, and performances that showcase humanities and arts research in a broad context. The Public Impact Grant is designed to offer interaction between national and international scholars and UGA faculty, students and the community.

2015 – 2016

Slingshot Festival

Faculty sponsor: Daniel Gellar (College of Engineering); Co–Sponsor: Eric Marty (School of Marine Programs)

Slingshot is a next generation festival creating a continuum across forward-thinking popular and experimental forms of expression, and bringing cutting edge technology and research to a wide public. Slingshot’s mission is to help rebrand UGA and Athens as an international intersection of forward-thinking music, art and technology, and to attract students, faculty, research, investment, and tourism to UGA and the area.

In 2014, Slingshot featured 60+ musical acts, and 40+ internationally recognized, established and emerging artists, and talks by leading innovators in technology. Scholars from UGA and universities around the U.S. presented on a range of topics at the intersection of humanities, art and technology. Slingshot 2015 featured a high profile tech conference, an increased art presence and larger music acts.

The 2016 festival will highlight the research, technologies, design and criticism underpinning next generation modes of artistic expression through conference talks, demonstrations, workshops, discussions, performances and installations.


Displaying Art in the Twentieth-Century American House Museum

Faculty sponsor: Asen Kirin (Lamar Dodd School of Art)
Dates: April 8-9, 2016

Organized jointly by the Lamar Dodd School of Art, UGA Semester in Washington, and Harvard University, this symposium will mark the seventy-fifth anniversary from the foundation of Dumbarton Oaks. The opening ceremony of Dumbarton Oaks took place on November 2, 1940; the same winter season in Washington saw yet another conspicuous art museum event—the National Gallery of Art’s inauguration on March 17, 1941.

These two events took place during the grimmest early period of World War II and made explicit a constant theme pertinent to a significant part of art collecting in America. This was the desire to save, preserve, and elucidate the best of the Western cultural tradition in the New World. The pursuits of many thoughtful American collectors contributed to inventing and affirming a complex and sophisticated sense of cultural identity, which remains as a part of the current intellectual discourse.

The symposium will focus on the art displays in house museums in America while also considering certain relevant European antecedents and parallels, among them the Wallace Collection (1897) in London and Musée Nissim de Camondo (1936) in Paris.

Appropriation in an Age of Global Shakespeare

Faculty sponsor: Christy Desmet (English); Faculty Co-Sponsor: Sujata Iyengar (English)
Dates: November 12-14, 2015

2015 marks the tenth anniversary of Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation. The journal, founded and co-edited by Christy Desmet and Sujata Iyengar, is internationally recognized as the leading venue for publications on the topic of Shakespearean Appropriation: prequels, sequels, recyclings, and rewritings of all kinds from across the globe. The journal, which won the Best New Journal Award from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals in 2007, publishes original criticism from leading scholars around the world and from emerging scholars in this always-changing field.

Read More

The anniversary will feature a two-day intensive conference on the topic of Appropriation in the Age of Global Shakespeare. As the world gathered in London for the 2012 Olympics, viewers and participants also experienced Shakespeare productions in dozens of world languages from every continent except Antarctica. The Cultural Olympiad, which ran the entire year, showcased Shakespeare through the Globe to Globe Festival, which brought theatrical companies from all over the world to perform Shakespeare in London. Currently, a small traveling company from Shakespeare’s Globe in London has embarked on a two-year odyssey, with the intent of performing Hamlet in every nation in the world. Closer to home, Emory University’s World Shakespeare Project connects U.S. university students with the counterparts in U.S. tribal colleges and other nations ranging from India to Morocco. The intercultural conversations produced from these and similar enterprises create a new Shakespeare, one for our global digital age that necessarily incorporates many forms of appropriation.

Borrowers and Lenders Banner

2014 – 2015

Symposium – “Rethinking the Parthenon: Color, Materiality and Aesthetics”

Faculty sponsor: Mark Abbe (Lamar Dodd School of Art)
Dates: October 17-18

This international symposium will bring eminent scholars to the University of Georgia to present and discuss critical new research on the Parthenon. Built for the goddess Athena on the Acropolis of Athens between 447-432 B.C.E., the Parthenon was the most sumptuously adorned temple in the Greek world. Today its marble shell is the most iconic remnant of classical Greek civilization, a veritable shorthand for classicism and Western civilization itself.

Read More

This symposium will focus on three interrelated but often-overlooked aspects of the Parthenon: its color, its materiality and its aesthetics. Interdisciplinary research in London and Athens has uncovered extensive vestiges of ancient painting on the sculptures and architecture of the Parthenon. These exciting discoveries add new insights to old discussions of the building’s decoration, in particular about the temple’s original polychrome appearance. Of critical importance is consideration of the diversity of the Parthenon’s construction materials, including white marble, bronze, ivory, gold, and pigments, and the complex symbolism and material aesthetics of their religious use.

Although scholars often frame Greek aesthetics within the more familiar patterns of abstract formalism (i.e., Plato and Aristotle), recent research has demonstrated how ancient aesthetic ideas often were more fundamentally anchored in direct sensual experience. An increasingly synoptic and flexible picture of the Parthenon is emerging of this exceptional temple as the most visually prominent public artwork of a distinct culture with a distinct aesthetic perspective, which in turn has generated important legacies in the development of western aesthetics.

Rethinking the Parthenon

Annual International Conference on Africa and Its Diaspora (AICAID)

Faculty sponsor: Akinloye Ojo (African Studies Institute)

The African Studies Institute at the University of Georgia welcomes all local, national and international scholars to the Third Annual International Conference on Africa and Its Diaspora (AICAID). At this conference, the African Studies Institute aims to stimulate and document scholarly discussion on the complex issue of gender and development in Africa and Its Diaspora. The conference will offer a forum for intensive exchanges among participants from Africa, the United States, and elsewhere, to highlight both the gains and challenges of the extensive inquiries on gender and its impact on development within Africa and the African Diaspora.

Slingshot 2015 – Festival of music, art, and technology

Faculty sponsor: Chris Eaket (Department of Theatre and Film Studies, Department of English)

The Slingshot Festival takes over downtown Athens, Georgia March 26-28, 2015. Spread over 5 city blocks and dozens of venues, Slingshot spotlights international, national, and local acts on stage, boundary pushing artworks throughout the urban environment, and tech talks with leading innovators. Slingshot also hosts a dedicated comedy night and film screenings.

Read More

Slingshot is a hybrid event that draws a diverse audience to engage with music, art, and technology. The 2014 Slingshot festival highlighted over 80 musical acts over three days in independent pop, electronic, rock, and experimental music from around the world. Over 45 artists from 20 countries were featured in varied electronic arts presentations, including interactive installations, performances, sound, and video. The technology portion of the festival included demonstrations, showcases, installations, competitions, and performances.

Slingshot began as a one-day event in 2013 with attendance of around 500 people. The 2015 festival will mark Slingshot’s third year, with expected attendance in the thousands. This event is sponsored by the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, MailChimp, Urban Outfitters, and More information is available through Slingshot’s website.


2013 – 2014

Classical Color: Ancient Polychromy Research

Faculty sponsor: Mark Abbe (Lamar Dodd School of Art)

Interdisciplinary research on the coloration of Greek and Roman marble sculpture finally has begun to restore color to the domain of Classical art, popularly perceived as perfectly white. The art research program of Mark Abbe, Tina Salguero, and Jeff Speakman promotes awareness of the original aesthetics of Classical art by combining art historical and scientific study of the vestiges of color that survive, often at the brink of invisibility, on the surfaces of ancient marble statuary. This grant supports the public dissemination of their work through the creation of a webpage for local, national, and international audiences.

Classical Color

Pilobolus Dance Theatre

Host: Lisa Fusillo (Dance)
Dates: January 23 – 24, 8 pm

Pilobolus Dance Theatre is an internationally renowned and award-winning company that has continued to extend, expand and further develop its innovative dance/movement concepts into extraordinary performances into the 21st century. The company maintains its founding collaborative philosophy of making art “to build community.” The company “teaches its group-based creative process to performers and non-dancers alike through popular, unique educational projects and programs.”

The Willson Center Public Impact Grant will bring this exceptional dance theatre company to the UGA campus to present public performances and master classes. Dates and further details will be announced soon.

Pilobolus Dance Company

Portuguese Linguistics in the United States

Host: Timothy Gupton (Romance Languages)
Dates: November 14 – 16, 2013

The inaugural Portuguese Linguistics in the United States (PLUS) conference takes place at the Georgia Hotel and Conference Center November 14-16, 2013. This three-day international academic conference, hosted by the UGA Department of Romance Languages, is the first of its kind in North America and will feature over 40 presentations by leading researchers of Portuguese and Portuguese-based creoles from across the country and around the world. Invited plenary speakers include Dr. Ana Maria Carvalho (University of Arizona), Dr. João Costa (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Dr. Charlotte Galves (UNICAMP), Dr. Scott Schwenter (The Ohio State University), and Antônio Carlos de Morães Sartini, curator of the Museum of the Portuguese Language (Museu da Língua Portuguesa) in São Paulo, Brazil. For more information, including registration and presentation scheduling details, please visit our conference website.


Whatever It Takes

Faculty sponsor: Janna Dresden (College of Education)

Whatever It Takes is an initiative of Family Connection-Communities In Schools of Athens, an education-based nonprofit organization that works directly with children and youth to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. The Willson Center Public Impact Grant will support partnerships between Whatever It Takes and the College of Education, as well as other areas of the university.

Whatever It Takes

JoLLE 2014 Conference

Faculty sponsor: Peter Smagorinsky (College of Education)
Dates: February 14-15, 2014

The JoLLE conference is an annual conference attached to the Journal of Language and Literacy Education housed in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at The University of Georgia. The Journal of Language and Literacy Education (ISSN #1559-9035) is a peer-reviewed, open access journal housed in the Department of Language & Literacy Education in the College of Education at the University of Georgia. Since its inception in 2004, JoLLE has provided a space for scholars to engage readers in a broad spectrum of issues related to the field. As an online journal, we encourage submissions that incorporate multiple modes (e.g., photographs, artwork, video, and graphics).

EcoFocus Film Festival

Host: Sara Beresford (Odum School of Ecology)
Dates: March 20 – 29, 2014

EcoFocus Film Festival was initiated in 2007 by UGA’s Odum School of Ecology. The mission of the festival is to present high-quality films on environmental subjects to inform and inspire audience members. EcoFocus will bring the best environmental films of the year to Athens along with filmmakers, speakers and special events. More information about EcoFocus Film Festival can be found at

EcoFocus logo

2012 – 2013

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Performance and Residency

Host: Bala Sarasvati (Department of Dance)
Dates of Residency:  October 15 – 17, 2012, UGA Department of Dance

The Ririe Woodbury Dance Company, led by founders Shirley Ririe and Joan Woodbury, will provide a three-day residence in the UGA Department of Dance October 15 – 17, 2012.  The RWDC, one of the leading companies in dance education, was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and this funding also will apply to the residency at UGA.

The company has performed throughout the U.S., British Isles, Canada, China, Europe, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Africa and the Virgin Islands. RWDC will teach master classes in the Department of Dance, provide a lecture demonstration/performance and stage a work for UGA dance students. The performance, open to the UGA population and the general public, will include choreography selected from 2012-13 RWDC dance repertory including original choreography by Charlotte Boye-Christensen (Artistic Director), along with a showcase of new and recreated works choreographed by other distinguished contemporary choreographers.


EcoFocus Film Festival

Host: Sara Beresford (Odum School of Ecology)
Dates: March 22 – 30, 2013

EcoFocus Film Festival was initiated in 2007 by UGA’s Odum School of Ecology. The mission of the festival is to present high-quality films on environmental subjects to inform and inspire audience members. The 2012-2013 EcoFocus activities include two screening events on the UGA campus in Fall 2012 and the main film festival, which is slated for March 21 – 24, 2013. EcoFocus will bring the best environmental films of the year to Athens along with filmmakers, speakers and special events. More information about EcoFocus Film Festival can be found at

EcoFocus logo

The Aspen String Trio Residency

Hosts: Maggie Snyder and Michael Heald (Hugh Hodgson School of Music)
Dates of Residency: March 24 – 28, 2013

On March 24-26 this internationally acclaimed chamber ensemble will be in residence at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, and on March 27 will perform their own recital in Ramsey Hall at the Performing Arts Center. The next evening they will be joined by members of the UGA string faculty for a further concert of chamber music. Their visit is supported by a grant from the Willson Center, as well as by the Performing Arts Center.

Aspen String Trio