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SUNY Plattsburgh Earns 'Big Read' Grant from National Endowment for the Arts

SUNY Plattsburgh is one of only 75 organizations and institutions nationwide to have been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant.

The NEA Big Read initiative, in partnership with Arts Midwest, is a national effort that offers grants to support organizations in developing community-wide reading programs that encourage reading and participation through diverse audiences. The Center for Community Engagement secured the $13,500 grant for the North Country’s Big Read participation. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to come together over a book,” said Julia Devine, director of the center. The Plattsburgh community read will be held in April 2018, which coincides with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Celebrate Diversity Month, and National Poetry Month, and will focus on Louise Erdrich’s 2012 novel, “The Round House,” about a Native American boy’s coming of age in the wake of a brutal, racist attack on his mother.

Regional Partners

“Louise Erdrich’s work offers a lot of parallels for our region,” Devine said. As such, the college will partner with the Akwesasne Library and Cultural Center in addition to the Plattsburgh Public Library, Strand Center for the Arts, Mountain Lake PBS, the Plattsburgh City School District, City of Plattsburgh, Clinton Community College, and the Lake Champlain International Film Festival.

The partnerships work well. According to Devine, the Center for Community Engagement “builds bridges between our campus and our community. We promote civic engagement activities across campus and foster a culture of active citizenship and social responsibility for faculty, staff, students, and campus groups.

Service and Community Engagement

The center “facilitates community partnerships, campus-community events, and encourages and supports learning through service and community engagement,” she said. “Our goal is simple: an engaged campus and a stronger community.”

“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 Chair Jan Chu. “These 75 organizations have developed unique plans to celebrate these works, including numerous opportunities for exploration and conversation.

According to the NEA, the Big Read showcases a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. Six institutions and organizations elected to feature “The Round House” for their Big Reads for 2018. Other titles include “A Wizard of Earthsea,” “Brother, I’m Dying,” “Pretty Monsters,” “Station 11,” “Into the Beautiful North,” “The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears,” and “True Grit.”

Established in 1965

The National Endowment for the Arts, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, is the independent federal agency that offers support and funding for projects exhibiting artistic excellence. Since its inception, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion in grants to deserving projects, organizations and individuals. The NEA has funded more than 1,400 Big Read programs since 2006, providing more than $19 million in grants nationwide.

Arts Midwest “promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives,” the organization says. Although headquartered in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest partners with the National Endowment for the Arts, among other organizations, to help connect arts to audiences around the United States.

For information on the SUNY Plattsburgh Big Read or the Center for Community Engagement, contact Devine at 310-367-4199 or [email protected].

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