“Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties” 2008-2011

Humanities Nebraska presented Chautauqua, “Bright Dreams, Hard Times:  America in the Thirties” in seven communities from 2008 to 2011.  Chautauqua visited the communities of Hastings, Falls City, Broken Bow, Plattsmouth, Columbus, North Platte, and Aurora.  In “Bright Dreams, Hard Times,” scholars portrayed five historical characters who helped shape America’s response to the Great Depression. The scholars were Doug Watson as humorist Will Rogers: Patrick McGinnis as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Fred Krebs as Louisiana governor and U.S. Sen. Huey Long: Tonia M. Compton as evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson: and Carmaletta Williams as WPA folklorist Zora Neale Hurston.

The “Bright Dreams, Hard Times” Chautauqua was funded in part by support from the “We The People Initiative” of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, the State of Nebraska.  The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded Humanities Nebraska (HN) a $179,010 grant with an additional federal match of $105,000 to support the Chautauqua program that toured 12 communities in Nebraska and Kansas from 2008 through 2011.

Chautauqua June 2011-Aurora

“Bright Dreams, Hard Times:  America in the Thirties” Chautauqua visited Aurora in June 22-26, 2011 in conjunction with the city’s annual A’ROR’N Days celebration. In addition to workshops for adults and youth throughout the week, there was also a photographic exhibition inspired by the images of the Great Depression that captured everyday life in the Dust Bowl Era.  The exhibition also allowed modern-day photographers to capture iconic images of the everyday lives in their own community.

Chautauqua June 2010 –North Platte

The community of North Platte hosted a five-day schedule of events surrounding the visit June 23-27, 2010 of “Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties,” presented by Humanities Nebraska. The schedule included a “Dust Bowl” exhibit of photographs, a youth day camp and youth workshops and other entertainment and performances.

Chautauqua June 2010 –Columbus, NE and Colby and Belleville, KS

The community of Columbus hosted a five-day schedule of events surrounding the visit June 16-20, 2010 of “Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties,” the Nebraska Humanities Council’s 2010 Chautauqua program. This event included a “Dust Bowl” exhibit of photographs, a youth day camp and youth workshops, historic re-enactments, and other activities.

In addition the NHC presented the 2010 Kansas-Nebraska Chautauqua in Columbus June 16-20 and also North Platte June 23-27, the 2010 Kansas-Nebraska Chautauqua also visited Colby, Kansas June 2-6, 2010 and Belleville, Kansas June 9-13, 2010.

Chautauqua June 2009 -Plattsmouth

The community of Plattsmouth hosted a five-day schedule of events surrounding the visit June 24-28, 2009 of “Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties.” The schedule included a “Dust Bowl” exhibit of photographs, a youth day camp and youth workshops. Among the opening-day events was a 6 p.m. historic re-enactment of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s October 1936 visit to Plattsmouth with a chance to meet all five of the Chautauquans.

Chautauqua June 2009 –Broken Bow

The community of Broken Bow hosted a five-day schedule of events surrounding the visit June 17-21, 2009 of “Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties.” The schedule included a “Dust Bowl” exhibit of photographs, a youth day camp and youth workshops. First-person interpretations, performances and local entertainment were featured as well.

Nebraskans had the opportunity to ask Franklin Delano Roosevelt what President Obama should do to revitalize the American economy when Chautauqua came to Broken Bow and Plattsmouth in June 2009. The “Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties” Chautauqua offers first-person presentations of five important historical characters from the Thirties and daily workshops for adults and youth.

Chautauqua June 2008 –Falls City & Hastings, NE

Gov. Dave Heineman declared June 25-July 6 as “Chautauqua Days,” in recognition of “Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties,” which was hosted by Falls City June 25-29, 2008 and Hastings July 2-6, 2008.


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