Applications Now Open for NEA Big Read Grants

Photos of books that are a part of the NEA Big Read with text reading Applications Now Open. Intent to Apply Due 1/18/2023

Washington, DC—Applications are now open for grants to support NEA Big Read projects between September 2023 and June 2024. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read supports community reading programs each designed around a single NEA Big Read book selection with the goal of inspiring meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community. Matching grants range from $5,000 to $20,000 each. The Intent to Apply deadline is Wednesday, January 18, 2023. Visit Arts Midwest’s website for complete grant guidelines and to apply. 

For their project, applicants will choose one of 15 books representing a diverse range of contemporary themes, voices, and perspectives. More information on the books and authors, as well as discussion questions and videos, are available at

The NEA Big Read welcomes applications from a variety of eligible organizations, including first-time applicants; organizations serving communities of all sizes, including rural and urban areas; and organizations with small, medium or large operating budgets. Eligible applicants include, but are not limited to: 

  • Arts centers, arts councils, and arts organizations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Libraries and literary centers
  • Community service organizations, environmental organizations, and faith-based organizations
  • Museums and historical societies
  • School districts and local education agencies
  • Tribal governments and non-profits

Applicant organizations will collaborate with a broad range of partners—including a community library if the applicant itself is not a library—to offer events and activities that engage the whole community.

Potential applicants may sign up for 15-minute consultations with Arts Midwest staff and review sample applications—access the guidelines for more details. Stories about past NEA Big Read projects can be found on Arts Midwest’s website.

Organizations are also encouraged to explore another open grant opportunity from the NEA and Arts Midwest—Shakespeare in American Communities. Through grants to theater companies that produce Shakespeare’s works, this program supports high-quality productions and educational activities in middle schools, high schools, and juvenile justice facilities throughout the United States. The Intent to Apply deadline is Monday, January 9, 2023.

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 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 the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and the Native Nations that share this geography. One of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 35 years. For more information, visit


(media questions) Liz Auclair,, 202-682-5744
(application questions) Arts Midwest,, 612-238-8010