National Endowment for the Arts Announces Big Read Grants in Celebration of Great American Books
Seventy-two communities to participate in national program to promote literary reading
The NEA presents the Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services
October 31, 2006
Washington, D.C. - The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today announced that 72 organizations will receive grants to support Big Read programs between January and June 2007. The Big Read is a new national program by the NEA, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Arts Midwest, that encourages literary reading by asking communities to come together to read and discuss one book. The organizations selected to participate in the Big Read will receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 to promote and carry out month-long, community-based programs.
After executing a successful pilot Big Read program with ten communities in 2006, the Arts Endowment announced in May that it would take the Big Read nationwide. In July, Mrs. Laura Bush enthusiastically joined the Big Read as its Honorary Chair.
Modeled on successful "city reads" programs, the Big Read is meant to address the national decline in literary reading as documented in the NEA's 2004 landmark survey Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America. The survey showed that less than half the American adult population now reads literature.
"With the Big Read we want to get everyone in a community -- from high school kids and office workers to public officials and senior citizens -- reading a great book together," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "Our goal is to get people talking about Fahrenheit 451 or The Great Gatsby with the same conviction that they debate the World Series. We want people to feel worse about not reading the book than they do about missing an episode of Lost or CSI."
"We are delighted to be partners in The Big Read. It's exciting to know that our partnership on the national level can make it possible for local communities across the United States to connect around reading a good book," said IMLS Director Dr. Anne-Imelda M. Radice. "My message to the new communities that are now part of The Big Read is: Bravo, I urge everyone to get involved; reading together is a powerful experience!"
Participating communities, ranging in population from 7,000 to more than four million, will read and celebrate one of eight classic American novels: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, My Ántonia by Willa Cather, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, or The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. To encourage community-wide participation in the project, each organization will collaborate with public and private partners within its community to develop a program of activities related to the selected novel, including read-a-thons, keynote presentations, film series, symphonic concerts, and museum exhibits.
In addition to grants, the NEA also will provide participating communities with a library of free materials, including reader's and teacher's guides for each of the Big Read novels, an audio guide for each novel featuring distinguished actors and writers, an online organizer's guide for hosting a Big Read program, a customized television public service announcement, Big Read display materials, and a comprehensive program Web site. The Boeing Company will support the Big Read in communities with a military base.
The Arts Endowment will support a second round of Big Read grants for the second half of 2007 to support programs running from September to December 2007. Four additional novels will be available to those communities: Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.
Please see the complete list of grantees.
For more information on the Big Read, please visit www.neabigread.org.
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts - both new and established - bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit www.arts.gov.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. For more information, please visit www.imls.gov
Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences 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 25 years. For more information, please visit www.artsmidwest.org.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency