The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts supports embedded arts research through critical exchange

National Endowment for the Arts Announces $1 Million in Grants for the Big Read

by National Endowment for the Arts

Washington, DC - The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced today that 76 not-for-profit organizations have been recommended for grants totaling $1,000,050 to host a Big Read project between September 2011 and June 2012. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

The Big Read provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 31 selections from U.S. and world literature, such as In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, and the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe. Among the organizations receiving a Big Read grant are libraries, humanities councils, museums, theater companies, literary centers and presses, public broadcasting stations, universities, YMCAs, and boys & girls clubs. The selected organizations will receive Big Read grants ranging from $2,500 to $17,000 to promote and carry out community-based programs.

Please see the complete listing of grants.

NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “Since 2006, nearly three million Americans have attended a Big Read event, more than 39,000 volunteers have participated locally, and nearly 27,000 community partner organizations have been involved. The Big Read’s success depends on these commitments of time, energy, and enthusiasm and I look forward to seeing these 76 communities come together in celebration of a great work of literature.”

Participating communities also receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title, which also are available for download Reader’s Guides include author biographies, historical context for the book, and discussion questions. Teacher’s Guides are developed with the National Council of Teachers of English and State Language Arts standards in mind and include lesson plans, essay topics, and classroom handouts. The Big Read Audio Guides feature readings from the novel along with commentary from renowned artists, educators, and public figures such as Junot Díaz and Aimee Mann, and Big Read authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin and Tim O’Brien.

Each community’s Big Read includes a kick-off event to launch the program; activities devoted specifically to its Big Read book or poet (e.g., panel discussions, lectures, public readings); events using the selection as a point of departure (e.g., film screenings, theatrical readings, exhibits); and book discussions in diverse locations aimed at a wide range of audiences.

For more information about The Big Read please visit


The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, 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

Liz Stark

Posted in: News