National Endowment for the Arts Funds 84 NEA Big Read Projects Nationwide


By Paulette Beete
A blue screen with two rectangles showing two people video chatting with one another.

For their NEA Big Read kick-off event on May 13, 2020, the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut, hosted author Stephanie Burt—author of Advice from the Lights—in an online conversation with Eric Maroney, English professor at Gateway Community College. Screenshot courtesy of International Festival of Arts & Ideas

"We have become even more aware this year of the important ways the arts help us connect with others, and how they bring meaning, joy, and comfort to our lives. These 84 organizations leading NEA Big Reads will provide opportunities for deep discussion and ways to help us better understand one another.” — Mary Anne Carter, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts

Each year, the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read initiative brings communities together around the shared activity of reading and discussing a book. Today, the Arts Endowment is announcing funding for 84 organizations to lead NEA Big Read projects between September 2020 and June 2021, providing a range of activities—in person or virtually—around a book selected from the NEA Big Read library.

The main feature of the NEA Big Read is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single National Endowment for the Arts Big Read selection. Each organization is receiving a grant ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 for their project, totaling $1,157,000. Projects will take place in 32 states and Puerto Rico, in communities ranging from Columbus, Georgia (Chattahoochee Valley Libraries), to Stillwater, Oklahoma (Stillwater Public Library), to Enterprise, Oregon (Fishtrap). Twenty-five books from the NEA Big Read library were selected by grantees this year, such as Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, Madeline Miller’s Circe, and Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North. MORE.

Get to know several of the authors whose books are part of the NEA Big Read library on the Art Works blog. Check out our interviews with Nathaniel Philbrick, Stephanie Burt, David Tomas Martinez, and Jeff VanderMeer.