HSU Awarded $15,000 NEA Grant for Humboldt County Reading Program

Humboldt State University received a $15,000 grant to host the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read throughout Humboldt County. 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.

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HSU is supporting a local reading program that focuses on Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American LyricClaudia Rankine.”

HSU 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 will focus on Citizen: An American Lyric. This collection of poems by Claudia Rankine examines the continued realities of racism in the U.S., as anti-Black racism and white supremacy remain widely unchecked.

“During this time of social isolation throughout our country, we have become even more aware of the important ways the arts help us connect with others, and how they bring meaning, joy, and comfort to our lives,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “By bringing the NEA Big Read to the North Coast, HSU will provide thoughtful and fun programming while also strengthening community bonds.”

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,” said 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.”

In conjunction with several community partners, HSU’s Big Read events will take place throughout October and November. These events include a keynote speech by Rankine on Saturday, Nov. 7 at HSU’s annual Campus/Community Dialogue on Race (CDOR), a week of intensive conversation about the impact of racism and its intersections with all forms of oppression.

Programming for CDOR seeks to account for the continued realities of racism and settler-colonialism and provides space for working toward systemic change and transformation. This year’s CDOR will run from Monday, Oct. 26 through Friday, Oct. 30. This year’s CDOR theme is “Global Justice: Examining the Past and Reimagining the Future,” a reminder of the global scope of racial injustice and interlocking oppressions. For more information about the 2020 Campus/Community Dialogue on Race, please visit dialogue.humboldt.edu.

Go to literary humboldt.org for more information on the Big Read program and calendar of events. If you or your organization would like to participate, please contact Kumi Watanabe-Schock, Coordinator of the 2020 Big Read: Humboldt County at kw1@humboldt.edu.

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. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit arts.gov/neabigread.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
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.

About Arts Midwest
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.