UND Writers Conference to receive $10,000 NEA grant

The 52nd UND Writers Conference, with the theme, "Roots to the Earth," is set for March 24-26, 2021.

The UND Writers Conference will receive $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, according to a recent announcement by the federal independent agency.

The Art Works grant will be used to fund appearances by influential authors and artists at the 2021 conference, which is set for March 24-26 with the theme, “Roots to the Earth.”

The March 2020 event was canceled as concerns erupted over the spread of coronavirus.

Crystal Alberts, UND associate professor of English and conference director, said the NEA funds will support the 52nd UND Writers Conference, which will feature authors and artists whose work analyzes the role of place, the environment and sustainability in light of global climatic shifts.

Through the arts, a conversation can take place about the impact individuals and communities have on climate change and the planet, Alberts said.


For more than 50 years, the UND Writers Conference has been committed to providing open access to the literary arts to the Grand Cities, the Red River Valley, North Dakota and the region, she said.

“The arts are an essential part of a vibrant, thriving, engaged community,” Alberts said. “They increase the quality of life and are part of a healthy economy.”

Past NEA funding for the conference has been used to digitally preserve discussion panels and engagements typical of the annual event.

“We are grateful for the financial support that enables our organization not only to continue its annual tradition of bringing influential authors to campus, but also to preserve its unique archive of video from past events, which is now freely available online for educational, scholarly and historical use as part of our digital collection,” Alberts said.

This is the sixth grant the UND Writers Conference has been awarded since 2010. It is one of 1,015 grants nationwide that the NEA has approved in the Art Works category.

The NEA has approved more than $84 million in grants as part of its second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2020.

“These awards demonstrate the resilience of the arts in America, showcasing not only the creativity of their arts projects but the organizations’ agility in the face of a national health crisis,” said Mary Anne Carter, NEA chairwoman, in announcing the awards June 10. “We celebrate organizations like the UND Writers Conference for providing opportunities for learning and engagement through the arts in these times.”

Art Works grants support artistically excellent projects that celebrate creativity and cultural heritage, invite mutual respect for differing beliefs and values and enrich humanity, according to the NEA announcement.


The National Endowment for the Arts has approved a $10,000 grant for the UND Writers Conference. Monies will be used to fund appearances by influential authors at the 52nd UND Writers Conference in March 2021.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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