'Big Read' Grant to UWP Library

Published: June 10, 2014

Southeastern Wisconsin to read and celebrate 'Fahrenheit 451' during The Big Read

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside Library has received a grant of $15,000 to host The Big Read in southeastern Wisconsin. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and managed by Arts Midwest designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture by exposing citizens to great works of literature and encouraging them to read for pleasure and enrichment. 

The UW-Parkside Library is one of just two nonprofit organizations in Wisconsin and 77 nationwide to receive a Big Read grant. The Big Read in southeastern Wisconsin begins in late September and continues through October. 

The UW-Parkside Library, in partnership with Kenosha and Racine public libraries, local nonprofits, and area businesses, will celebrate Ray Bradbury's classic "Fahrenheit 451." 

Special programming for Parkside students and community-wide events will explore themes of censorship and dystopia. Sam Weller, Bradbury's official biographer and a member of the faculty at Columbia College Chicago will be the keynote speaker when Big Read activities are launched Wednesday, Sept. 24. Weller is the author of "The Bradbury Chronicles" and "Listen to the Echoes." 

While public libraries dominated the list of grantees, UW-Parkside Library Director Jo Cates believes Parkside's grant proposal was compelling in its breadth, and diversity of partners and potential programming. "We demonstrated a capacity to reach out to our students as well as our communities in southeastern Wisconsin," Cates said. "As our proposal stated, 'We hope to not only draw in devoted readers and library regulars, but also non-readers and nontraditional library users by strategically locating discussions in the Racine and Kenosha communities and making Spanish-language materials available." 

NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa said, "While the act of reading is usually a solitary one, through the Big Read it becomes a social one. This year's Big Read grant recipients not only play an important role in encouraging reading but also develop creative opportunities to involve all members of their communities to come together to discuss and celebrate these great works."

The Big Read provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 36 selections from U.S. and world literature. The 77 selected organizations will receive Big Read grants to promote and carry out community-based reading programs featuring activities such as read-a-thons, book discussions, lectures, movie screenings, and performing arts events. 

The NEA has also developed high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title, including reader's guides, teacher's guides, and audio programming, all of which are available to the public on neabigread.org

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is one of 13 four-year campuses in the University of Wisconsin System. Founded in 1968 to better serve the needs of a growing population in southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois, UW-Parkside offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs and serves as an academic and cultural resource. The campus is located at 900 Wood Rd. in Somers.   

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at arts.gov.   

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people's lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit artsmidwest.org.
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