NEA Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. About 75 organizations across the country each receive funds ranging in amounts from $5,000 to $20,000 to support community-wide programs which encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences.
Public libraries, 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations and divisions of state, local or tribal governments may now apply to participate in the Big Read program. Applications are due January 26, 2017. The NEA Big Read website provides a wealth of information for potential applicants.
An applicant must develop a program proposal focused on one book from a group of 28 featured titles in the Big Read library. A proposal should include a series of events devoted to the selected book, events using the book as a point of departure, and book discussions in diverse locations involving a wide range of audiences. NEA Big Read Guidelines suggest that the proposal include a kick-off event, panel discussions or author readings, film screenings or theatrical readings, and book discussions, all of which occur over the course of a month. Applicants must include a detailed budget for the proposed program. Grant-funded expenses may include book purchases, speaker fees and travel, promotion, and venue rental. Note that there is a 1:1 cost share/matching requirement (utilizing non-federal funds) for this grant.
NEA Big Read staff recently conducted a webinar about the program (scroll down the linked page – the webinar is below the list of titles). In addition to providing basic information about the Big Read program, the webinar shared details about the 13 new books added to the NEA Big Read catalog in 2016. The new books include contemporary and lesser-known titles, books from living authors and books in translation, and cover issues relevant to our times.
During the previous grant round, four New Jersey organizations were named Big Read award recipients: Burlington County Library System (The Maltese Falcon), Essex County Library Directors (Silver Sparrow), Gloucester County Library System (The Great Gatsby), and Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts (Fahrenheit 451). Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts included lectures, storytelling and art activities as part of its Big Read program.