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National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Grant Opportunity Announced for Community Reading Programs

Additions to the NEA Big Read Library Include Selections in Honor of 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage

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NEA Big Read logo and book covers.

Among the books available for communities to choose for 2020-2021 NEA Big Read projects are CirceMy Ántonia, The Essential Emily Dickinson, An American SunriseTheir Eyes Were Watching God, and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter​​​​​​​.

Washington, DC—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 2020-21 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.