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NEA Big Read Returns to Columbus in 2021


Columbus and the Valley to read and celebrate Madeline Miller’s CIRCE in early 2021

The Chattahoochee Valley Libraries (CVL) is a recipient of a grant of $15,000.00 to host the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read in Columbus, GA and the surrounding area. An Arts Endowment initiative in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

CVL is one of 84 nonprofit organizations selected to receive an NEA Big Read grant to support a community reading program between September 2020 and June 2021. The NEA Big Read in Columbus will focus on Madeline Miller’s CIRCE, the critically-acclaimed re-imagination of the events of the Odyssey as seen through the eyes of its titular character. Activities will take place mid-February through mid-March, 2021.

“We are thrilled to once again be a recipient of this prestigious grant,” says Henry McCoy, Program Coordinator for CVL and the project director for this series of events. “CIRCE is an incredible way to re-introduce one of our society’s foundational myths to a modern audience. Our audiences are going to be surprised at how fresh, how true-to-life, and how relevant this story from antiquity can be. We thank the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest for their trust in us to bring great literature to our community.”

MADELINE MILLER Photo © Nina Subin

Highlighting the planned series of events will be a special public appearance by CIRCE author Madeline Miller. Currently scheduled to appear March 4, 2021, Ms. Miller will offer a presentation based on her years of classical scholarship and will discuss the creative process behind her two best-selling novels CIRCE and THE SONG OF ACHILLES. A complete list of events will be posted here in late fall.

The local celebration is sponsored by the Muscogee County Friends of Libraries.

“We have become even more aware this year of the important ways the arts help us connect with others, and how they bring meaning, joy, and comfort to our lives,” says Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “By bringing the NEA Big Read to Columbus, the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries will provide opportunities for deep discussion and ways to help us better understand one another.”

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. 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 National Endowment for the Arts Big Read selection.

“We are honored to continue our partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts on this incredible program,” says Torrie Allen, president & CEO of Arts Midwest. “For more than 14 years this national effort has invested in communities as they gather to discuss the stories and ideas that connect us to one another. We are especially inspired by the projects and organizations that are finding new, virtual ways of creating those connections with their communities and are thrilled to support them at this critical time.”

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,600 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $22 million to organizations nationwide. Over the past thirteen years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 91,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. Click here for more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos.

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

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 35 years. For more information, please visit artsmidwest.org.

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