The NEA Big Read in Juneau, AK will focus on the book Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Activities will take place September 15th – October 31st 2017.

“A community wide reading and discussion of a common book is a wonderful way to promote literacy and can also provide a safe venue for beginning difficult dialogues. We selected Station Eleven as our NEA Big Read title because we see it as a story to inspire conversations about survival, be it physical, emotional, or cultural, while acknowledging, as Mandel writes, that mere ‘survival is insufficient.’ To be resilient in the aftermath of traumatic events, we need art in many forms to express hope and as a path to healing” said Beth Weigel, program coordinator for the Juneau Public Libraries.  

“Through the NEA Big Read we are bringing contemporary works to communities across the country, helping us better understand the diverse voices and perspectives that come with it,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “These 75 organizations have developed unique plans to celebrate these works, including numerous opportunities for exploration and conversation.”

The NEA Big Read showcases a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, which annually supports approximately 75 dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

The Juneau Public Libraries’ NEA Big Read will collaborate with the University of Alaska Southeast’s One Campus, One Book program to explore the programming themes of remembering and coping with trauma through cultural and artistic forms, boosting community knowledge of emergency preparedness and infectious disease prevention, and promoting kindness and respect for different perspectives despite humans’ sometime violent and intolerant nature. In addition to UAS, Juneau’s NEA Big Read has garnered a wide range of community partners including: the Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries; the Alaska State Library, Museum and Archives; Bartlett Regional Hospital; the Juneau Public Health Center; the Juneau Local Emergency Planning Committee; the Juneau Douglas City Museum; the Juneau Symphony; 49 Writers; Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre; Perseverance Theatre; Gold Town Theater; Platypus Gaming; the UAF Cooperative Extension Service; and the 2017 Year of Kindness steering committee. Collaborative programs will include book discussions all over town, an apocalyptic Evening at Egan, Alaska Book Week author talks, flu shots, zombies, the Preparedness Expo, Shakespeare readings, museum displays, and a musical selection by the Juneau Symphony to promote hope.

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,400 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $19 million in grants to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past eleven years, grantees have leveraged more than $42 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 4.8 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 79,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 37,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. Last summer, the NEA announced a new focus for the NEA Big Read Library on contemporary authors and books written since the NEA was founded 50 years ago. For more information about the NEA Big Read, please visit neabigread.org.

The Juneau Public Libraries are the open door to exploration and lifelong learning, providing free access to shared resources and programs that entertain, enlighten and educate. 

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 NEA 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 NEA or neabigreads.org for more info about the program.

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.

For more information contact Beth Weigel at the Juneau Public Libraries, 907-586-5249.

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