The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read is a program that awards grants ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 to organizations. These grants support community reading programs designed around a single NEA Big Read book. The goal of this program is to inspire meaningful conversations, celebrate local creativity, elevate a wide variety of voices and perspectives, and build stronger connections in each community.
In addition to funding for purchasing the books themselves, each grant recipient is provided with resources to help them succeed. That includes outreach materials to gather people from all walks of life and training on how to work with local partners, how to develop public relations strategies, and how to lead meaningful book discussions.
NEA Big Read programs vary and can be as short as a week or as long as several months. Beyond discussions of the book, organizations may choose to include a kick-off event, invite the author for a visit, or have other events inspired by the content and themes of the book, including panel discussions, lectures, film screenings, art exhibitions, theatrical and musical performances, poetry slams, writing workshops and contests, and community storytelling events.
New this year! Explore a theme
Programming for the 2024-2025 grant cycle will center around the theme WHERE WE LIVE. Using a book selection as inspiration, applicants will choose one or more aspects of this theme as it relates to their own communities. For example, a community may explore its physical environment, people, industry and culture, history, and/or imagine an alternate reality.
To help applicants choose a book that inspires community programming and relates to the theme WHERE WE LIVE, the NEA Big Read has gone back to its roots. The NEA Big Read library now includes a selection of 50 titles culled from years past that showcase a wide range of genres, perspectives, and geographic regions.
Applicants will facilitate book discussions, writing workshops, and creative programming that celebrates the unique aspects of their communities. Activities will seek to include local artists and welcome participation from a wide range of audiences.
NEA Big Read is now accepting applications. Please submit your Intent to Apply by Wednesday, January 10th. Applications for the 2024-2025 cycle are due Wednesday, January 24th.