The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read is a partnership with Arts Midwest that broadens understandings of our world, our neighbors, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience. Showcasing a diverse range of themes, voices, and perspectives, each year the NEA Big Read aims to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community. For a first, and in an effort to galvanize potential applicants and develop and enhance quality applications, NEA hosted a webinar about applying for a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Grant, featuring a moderated panel that explored various topics of consideration for applications. On Wednesday October 27th, attendees heard from a hand-selected panel of four previous grantee organizations; Sylvia M. Casillas Olivieri of Universidad Ana G. Méndez (UAGM), Gurabo campus, Matthew David of Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, Jacob Freidman of Arizona State University, and Da’Tarvia Parrish of Livingstone College.
The June selected committee, were directed by Joshua Feist of Arts Midwest to produce a forum designed to assist organizations and colleges and universities. The presentation included introductions whereas each panelist announced themselves and provided a brief overview of their organization, community, and programming for the NEA Big Read. Selecting a Book was headed by Sylvia M. Casillas Olivieri, Jacob Freidman discussed Finding Partners, Developing Programs was facilitated by Da’Tarvia Parrish, and Matthew David encouraged with, Why Apply.
In Dr. Parrish’s presentation, she highlighted Livingstone College’s 2021 programming with a goal of being intentionally intergenerational and intercultural, with their text selection, The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka. The work poetically chronicles the life and times of the controversial and first African American Heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson. Dr. Parrish stated, “I always feel honored when presented the opportunity to represent Livingstone College on a national level. I’m at the table as an HBCU, as a small private college, and most of all, as an A.M.E. Zion affiliated institution.”
The webinar hosted over 200 attendees for the up to 20K grant award. The session is available on Midwest Arts webpage, and the application deadline is January 26, 2022. Interested applicants can apply at https://www.artsmidwest.org/programs/neabigread/application-process/.