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Jason Rapp

Applications open for NEA’s ‘Big Read’ program

Arts orgs eligible for $20,000 grants

Application deadline: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27, 2021

Arts Midwest is now accepting applications for the 2021/2022 National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Program.

pile of books on a wooden stoolThe NEA Big Read is a community engagement opportunity with grants of up to $20,000 for community-wide reading programs (virtual and/or in-person). Organizations can choose one of six available books. They can also tie in thematically-related books of their choice to expand the program's potential and reach a wider audience. Eligible organizations include arts organizations, but also:
  • community service organizations,
  • institutions of higher education,
  • libraries and literary centers,
  • museums,
  • school districts,
  • tribal governments, and more!
Past grantees have a proven track record of successfully engaging their audiences through the power of literature and stirring up a passion for reading that persists year after year.  They've also developed meaningful and lasting partnerships with other organizations in their community. Studies have shown that reading for pleasure has positive impacts on one’s health and this program can also provide entertainment and connection to community members in a time of isolation. The deadline to apply is January 27, 2021. Learn more about the NEA Big Read via the attached grant guidelines and at this link: https://www.artsmidwest.org/programs/neabigread/about If you have any questions, please contact Arts Midwest at neabigread@artsmidwest.org or 612.238.8010.

Jason Rapp

NEA, Arts Midwest make NEA Big Read guidelines public

The National Endowment for the Arts, in collaboration with Arts Midwest, announced today that guidelines are now available for nonprofit organizations interested in applying for a grant to hold an NEA Big Read project between September 2021 and June 2022.

Since 2006, more than 1,600 National Endowment for the Arts Big Read programs have taken place throughout the nation, giving communities the opportunity to come together to read, take part in meaningful discussions, and enjoy book-inspired events. The deadline for grant applications is January 27, 2021. The books available for the 2021-2022 NEA Big Read are designed to provide communities and readers with insights into aspects of our nation’s history and culture. Applicant organizations are encouraged to collaborate with a broad range of partners to offer events and activities that engage the whole community. Eligible applicants and partners include, but are not limited to: arts centers, arts councils, arts organizations, community service organizations, environmental organizations, fairs and festivals, faith-based organizations, historical societies, housing authorities, humanities councils, institutions of higher education, libraries, literary centers, museums, school districts, theater companies, trade associations, and tribal governments. Visit Arts Midwest’s website for complete application details. “This selection of books for the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read will offer a platform to launch meaningful discussions about our nation’s past, present, and our hopes for its future,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “These books all provide insights into different aspects of our history and we look forward to seeing the creative ways organizations find to explore their selected book with their community.” The books available for 2021-2022 programming are:
  • An American Sunrise—A collection of poems by Joy Harjo—current U.S. poet laureate and member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation—that revisits the homeland from which her ancestors were uprooted in 1830 as a result of the Indian Removal Act.
  • Beloved—A novel by Toni Morrison set in 1873 in Cincinnati, Ohio, about one woman’s struggle to raise her daughter while coping with the memories of her life as an enslaved person in pre-Civil War Kentucky.
  • The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir—Thi Bui’s memoir about the lasting effects of one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam in the 1970s to a new life in America and the universal challenges of becoming a new parent.
  • The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and Other Stories—A collection of short and long tales of heroism and hardship by Jack London featuring canine protagonists and set in the Pacific Northwest amidst the backdrop of the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800s.
  • The Grapes of Wrath—A novel by John Steinbeck published in 1939 that chronicles the harrowing westward migration from Oklahoma to California during the time of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.
  • The House on Mango Street—A series of interconnected vignettes by Sandra Cisneros published in 1984 about a year in the life of a young Mexican-American girl growing up in Chicago in the 1980s.
Resources for each book, such as readers’ guides and teachers’ guides will be available in Spring 2021. In order to broaden participation, applicants may also choose to develop certain events and/or activities around other literary titles that relate in some way (thematically, historically, etc.) to their selected NEA Big Read book. “For nearly 15 years, NEA Big Read has inspired communities to come together over the joy of a good book,” shared Joshua Feist, director of grantmaking at Arts Midwest. “We look forward to supporting organizations as they test innovative ways to connect their audiences—which includes events in virtual spaces and socially distant programs—to ensure that communities have access to creativity, literature, and the important stories and ideas embedded in these books.” A webinar for potential applicants will be held on November 12, 2020 at 1pm ET. Click here to register.

About the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read

Since the program began in 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,600 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $22 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, NEA Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 14 years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local matching funds to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 91,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information, please visit arts.gov/neabigread.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

About Arts Midwest

Arts Midwest believes that creativity has the power to inspire and unite humanity. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest grows, gathers, and invests in creative organizations and communities throughout our region and the nation. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 35 years. For more information, visit artsmidwest.org.

NEA announces ‘Big Read’ community reading program grants

Additions to the NEA Big Read Library include selections in honor of 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage

Application deadline: Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Are you a nonprofit organization interested in increasing community engagement, creating new partnerships, and celebrating great books? The 2020/2021 guidelines for National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grants are now available. This National Endowment for the Arts initiative, in partnership with Arts Midwest, supports community reading programs across the country, each designed around a single NEA Big Read book. In honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the 2020/2021 list of NEA Big Read books will include classic literature by four female authors: My Ántonia by Willa Cather, The Essential Emily Dickinson (a selection of poems by Dickinson, introduced by Joyce Carol Oates), Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. Also new for 2020-2021 is the addition of the novel Circe by Madeline Miller, a retelling of the life of a Greek mythological goddess, and An American Sunrise, a new collection of poems by U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo, which will be available in place of her book How We Became Human. In total, 32 books will be available for NEA Big Read projects taking place between September 2020 and June 2021; the full list of titles is available in the guidelines on Art Midwest’s website, where potential applicants can also find full details on eligibility, how to apply, and application advice. The application deadline is Wednesday, January 29, 2020. In addition to libraries, eligible applicants include colleges and universities, arts organizations, museums, humanities councils, school districts, historical societies, and more—read the guidelines for complete eligibility information. “Hosting an NEA Big Read program has been shown to be a powerful way to build community and encourage dialogue on a variety of pertinent topics, from taking care of elderly parents, such as in Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, to the opioid crisis in Burning Bright, to the challenges some boys face at the brink of manhood in Hustle,” said Amy Stolls, director of literary arts at the Arts Endowment. All NEA Big Read programs include a series of events, ranging from lectures and book discussions to film screenings and performances, all designed to create opportunities for conversation and engagement among a wide range of community members. Visit the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read website for more information on the program— including book and author information, podcasts, and videos—as well as to read community stories from past NEA Big Read grantees.

About the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read

Since the program began in 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,500 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $21 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, NEA Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 13 years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local matching funds to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 92,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read and to suggest a book, please visit arts.gov/neabigread.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

About Arts Midwest

Arts Midwest, a nonprofit regional arts organization headquartered in Minneapolis, serves audiences, arts organizations and artists throughout the nine state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 30 years. Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people's lives. Annually, cultural programs initiated by Arts Midwest reach close to a million people, enhancing the quality of life in hundreds of cities, towns, and rural areas. Arts Midwest's high-quality cultural activities, in a spectrum of artistic genres, reach school children, university students, families, and adults of all ages.

Get your community on the same page! NEA Big Read grants available

New titles added; apply by January 26, 2017. logocarouselslidecolorNEA Big Read is accepting applications from nonprofit organizations to develop community-wide reading programs between September 2017 and June 2018. NEA Big Read is a national program that broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. A Big Read is a month-long series of programs centered around one NEA Big Read book. Programs should include a kickoff, a keynote, book discussions, and other artistic events to foster engagement with the selected title and encourage reading. Thirteen new titles have been added to this year's Big Read list. Organizations selected to participate in the program receive a grant, educational and promotional materials, and access to online training resources and opportunities. Approximately 75 organizations from across the country will be selected. Funding ranges from $5,000 to $20,000. Visit the online application guidelines for more information. Questions? Call Arts Midwest at 612.238.8010 or email neabigread@artsmidwest.org.