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COLUMBUS, Miss. (Press Release) — The Columbus Arts Council today announced that it has received a $11,800 grant to host The Big Read in Columbus/Lowndes County.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture by exposing citizens to great works of literature and encouraging them to read for pleasure and enrichment.

The Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest.

The Columbus Arts Council is one of 77 nonprofit organizations to receive a grant to host a Big Read project between September 2014 and June 2015. The Big Read in Columbus will focus on Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Louis Rey. Activities will take place between January and March 2015.

“The Columbus Arts Council is thrilled to partner with the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library and the MUW Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy to bring the Big Read to Columbus,” Executive Director of the Columbus Arts Council Tina Sweeten-Lunsford said. “Fantastic programming has been scheduled to compliment the book including events like, Peruvian Music, documentaries and movies, book groups, speaker’s panel, key note by Penelope Niven, author of Thornton Wilder: A Life. The Events will kick-off with a ‘Carnival’ themed event and will culminate in a week long performance of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the Omnova Theater.”

“While the act of reading is usually a solitary one, through the Big Read it will become a social one,” NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa said. “This year’s Big Read grant recipients are not only playing an important role in encouraging reading but are also developing creative opportunities to involve all members of their communities to come together to discuss and celebrate these great works on literature.”

The Big Read provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 36 selections from U.S. and world literature. The 77 selected organizations will receive Big Read grants to promote and carry out community-based reading programs featuring activities such as read-a-thons, book discussions, lectures, movie screenings and performing arts events. The NEA has also developed free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title, including reader’s guides, teacher’s guides and audio programming, all of which are available to the public on neabigread.org.

For more information about The Big Read, individuals can visit neabigread.org.

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