June 15, 2022—Kenosha—Kenosha Public Library is one of 62 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2022-2023 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $20,000 will support a community reading program focusing on Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi starting in May 2023. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience.
"We are again excited to bring the NEA Big Read to the Kenosha community. Our planning team chose Yaa Gyasi's debut novel "Homegoing" because of the rich themes throughout the book, including family, legacy, racial and gender stereotypes, and many decades of history." shared Brandi Cummings, Kenosha Public Library's Head of Community Programs and Partnerships. "Kenosha has made great strides in the past few years, engaging in important and difficult conversations about relationship, representation, and equity. Celebrating "Homegoing" not only allows us to continue those conversations but also lays the groundwork for us to celebrate its characters' rich history and experiences throughout many historical decades."
"It is inspiring to see how NEA Big Read grantees like Kenosha Public Library utilize these books as launchpads for their own programming, often creating opportunities for community conversations, new partnerships, and encouraging participants to incorporate art into their daily lives," said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.
The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.
"All across America, in communities small and large, the NEA Big Read connects neighbors and inspires creativity," said Torrie Allen, President & CEO of Arts Midwest. "We're excited to support grantees like Kenosha Public Library as they bring the pages of these wonderful books to life through inventive programming."
"Although our program does not start until May 2023, Kenosha Public Library is already looking for community partners, artists, creators, and book advocates who want to participate in our upcoming NEA Big Read celebration," said Cummings. "My favorite part of each NEA Big Read program that KPL brings to life is watching our community come together to highlight local talent, thought leaders, and create stronger connections. This year is no different, and I am excited to connect with as many partners as possible to make this our biggest and most vibrant NEA Big Read yet. Community partners interested in participating can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org."
Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $24 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 16 years, grantees have leveraged more than $56 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.9 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 97,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit arts.gov/neabigread.
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide and a catalyst of public and private support for the arts. By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States. Visit arts.gov to learn more.
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, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 30 years. For more information, visit artsmidwest.org.