Kenosha Public Library to host NEA Big Read Event next May |

The Kenosha Public Library (KPL) is already looking for community partners, artists, creators and book advocates to participate in next year’s National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read program.

Next year’s event will be the 11th official NEA Big Read event in Kenosha, according to KPL’s Head of Community Programs and Partnerships Brandi Cummings. KPL 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.

In a press release, Cummings said KPL is excited to bring the NEA Big Read to the Kenosha community again. Their planning team chose “Homegoing” as the featured book because of the “rich themes throughout the book, including family, legacy, racial and gender stereotypes, and many decades of history,” Cummings said.

“Kenosha has made great strides in the past few years, engaging in important and difficult conversations about relationship, representation and equity,” Cummings said. “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.”

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In a press release, NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson said it is inspiring to see how Big Reads grantees like KPL utilize featured books as “launchpads” for their own programming.

“[They are] often creating opportunities for community conversations, new partnerships, and encouraging participants to incorporate art into their daily lives,” Jackson said.

The NEA Big Read program 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.

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA 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. Since 2006, the NEA 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.

Cummings said her favorite part of each NEA Big Read program that KPL hosts is watching the community come together to highlight local talent and 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,” Cummings said.

Community partners interested in participating can reach out to Cummings at [email protected]

For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit arts.gov/neabigread. More information about Arts Midwest can be found at artsmidwest.org.

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