The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Reading Between the Lines: Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association

Brunswick, GA

Geri Lynn Sponaas, assistant to the director for Regional Services, Three Rivers Regional Library System; Karen Larrick, programming director at the Brunswick-Glynn County Library; and Heather Heath, Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association Executive Director, present copies of The Great Gatsby to Glynn County School System Media Specialists. Photo by Bobby Haven

With much of the country buried under snow and ice this week, it seemed like a good time to travel south to coastal Georgia where today the Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association (GIAHA) kicks off its fourth Big Read. Events residents have to look forward to over the next six weeks include a Gangsters & Jazz film series featuring classics like Some Like It Hot and The Roaring Twenties, radio broadcasts featuring professional and local actors reading The Great Gatsby, and a lecture on the connections between The Great Gatsby and the literature of the Harlem Renaissance. We spoke with Heather Heath, GIAHA executive director, to learn more about these upcoming events and what advice she would give to any new Big Read grantees.

NEA: How does The Big Read fit into the mission of the Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association?

HEATHER HEATH: GIAHA?s mission is to provide distinctive cultural events and education that engages and inspires our community. The Big Read gives us the opportunity to provide a broad range of arts and literary events.

NEA: This is your organization?s fourth time hosting a Big Read program. Are there any words of wisdom you would pass on to an organization hosting its first Big Read?

HEATH: Good planning and strong partnerships make a successful Big Read. Our program has grown to encompass not only Glynn County where we are based, but McIntosh and Camden, our two neighboring counties. Having our regional library system and our local college as primary partners, we are able to bring significantly more programs to the communities. Other words of wisdom?think outside the box. The more creative the programming, the more engaged the community becomes.

NEA: What Big Read event are you most looking forward to this year?

HEATH: Ain?t We Got Fun: The 1920s in Concert, a show that we have created for The Big Read. This is a performance of the greatest music of the 1920s by one of the most popular bands in our area. Interspersed will be film footage and recorded voices recalling unforgettable moments from the Jazz Age through letters and memoirs, poetry, speeches, and newspaper blurbs. We think that it will be pretty cool. I?m also looking forward to seeing the Teen Advisory Council from Wayne County present their program around our ?Little Big Read? book, Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag (a 1929 Newbery Honor Book). They are traveling to all the regional libraries for a Saturday morning interactive performance with kids. And I?m looking forward to the kickoff of Coastal Georgia Reads The Great Gatsby on February 4th as we have a special surprise lined up for that evening. If all goes according to plan, we will share it with other Big Reads.

NEA: Why did your organization choose The Great Gatsby for this year?s Big Read?

HEATH: The theme of the American Dream, its promise and its corruption, is particularly relevant to our times and, I think, a great springboard for getting people to go back to the novel and find parallels between our time and the Roaring 20s and its aftermath. We also knew we would be able to continue to reach those ?reluctant readers? with exciting programming that celebrates the innovations of the decade and the amazing music, art, and literature that came out of this period.

NEA: Any last words?

HEATH: Our community has really embraced The Big Read and participation continues to increase?and one of the main reasons for that is it is fun!

For more about Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association?s Big Read, visit their website. And for more about The Great Gatsby, visit The Big Read website.

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