NEA awards $15K grant

In News by Garette Hunter

Livingstone College was awarded a $15,000 grant to host the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read in Rowan County.

Livingstone was 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 is an Arts Endowment initiative in partnership with Arts Midwest. Its purpose is to broaden the understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

The NEA Big Read in Rowan County will focus on Adrian Matejka’s, “The Big Smoke.” Activities will take place April 2-May 7, 2021. “Our text is an exquisite collection of poetry that depicts the heavyweight champion Jack Johnson as a social phenomenon through a literary lens,” said Dr. Da’Tarvia Parrish, program director and history and African-American studies professor at Livingstone College. “As literature allows the imagination to exist where often perceptions can be reconstructed and redefined, I’m eager to unfold how this communal lesson can increase the complexities of self-awareness and acquire new perspectives.”

Livingstone College will host shared activities with several community partners to include the Rowan Public Library, Families and Communities Together (F.A.C.T.) and Hornets’ Nest Girl Scouts Troop 454.

“For over 140 years, Livingstone College has provided leadership to the global society whereas our effort in the Big Read is simply another way the college does its best to serve,” said Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. “We are thankful for the friends we have in Rowan County who have partnered with us, and we are grateful to NEA for this opportunity to recognize the importance of literacy and community.”

“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, NEA chairman. “By bringing the NEA Big Read to the Rowan-Salisbury community, Livingstone College 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 NEA 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 and 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 13 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