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NEA supports Northeast in its Big Read program

NEA supports Northeast in its Big Read program

WASHINGTON DC – Northeast Community College is one of 62 non-profit organizations across the country to receive support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in partnership with Arts Midwest, to hold NEA Big Read programming opportunities in 2022-2023.

The NEA is investing $1.1 million to support programming centered around one of 15 different contemporary books, with the aim of inspiring meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in participating communities.

“It is inspiring to see how NEA Big Read grantees 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 Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, NEA chair. 

Each NEA Big Read grantee is receiving a matching grant ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 to support programming around one of 15 contemporary books, 12 of which are new for the 2022-2023 NEA Big Read. A grant of $19,500 will support a community reading program through the Northeast Community College Library focusing on Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig in the spring 2023.

Taussig is a Kansas City writer and teacher with her doctorate in Creative Nonfiction and Disability Studies. She has led workshops and presentations at the University of Michigan, University of Kansas, and Davidson College on disability representation, identity, and community. She also runs the Instagram platform @sitting_pretty where she crafts “mini-memoirs” to contribute nuance to the collective narratives being told about disability in our culture. 

“Our team selected Taussig’s memoir because we appreciate the honest and intimate rendering of her experiences, which inspires caring and connection. Events will focus on disability, disability services, accessibility, and inclusion and will promote open dialogue leading to a deeper understanding of how best to respect and serve one another,” said Jennifer Ippensen, director of library services and NEA Big Read project director. “At Northeast, we aspire to create an inclusive, diverse culture where every person is heard, engaged, and feels valued, and we believe one way we can make progress toward achieving that goal is by heightening awareness around disability and related services. We are excited to offer activities for people of all ages and abilities through the NEA Big Read.”

The Northeast NEA Big Read events will be offered in partnership with the League of Human Dignity, Norfolk Public Library, Elkhorn Valley Museum, Norfolk Arts Center, Norfolk Area Diversity Council, and numerous other organizations and service providers. 

The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, a partnership with Arts Midwest, is designed to broaden and offer a better understanding of the world, its communities and people through the joy of sharing a good book. Since 2006, the NEA has funded more than 1,700 Big Read programs, providing more than $24 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, NEA 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. 

“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 this year’s grantees as they bring the pages of these wonderful books to life through inventive programming.”