New Hampshire Humanities Receives a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Grant

Published: 06-21-2023 10:28 AM

New Hampshire Humanities (NHH) is one of 62 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2023-2024 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read grant of $20,000. An initiative of the NEA in partnership with Arts Midwest, a Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience. In partnership with the Center for the Book at the NH State Library, NH State Council for the Arts, New Hampshire Public Radio, NH Department of Corrections-Family Connections Center, 50 local libraries and community organizations, the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Gibson’s Bookstore, and scholars, NHH’s Big Read will bring more than 5,000 Granite Staters together to discuss a selected book, The Bear by NH author Andrew Krivak.

The Bear offers readers an opportunity to join an unimaginable journey into a world both familiar and unknown as we consider what future we want for New Hampshire. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, it is a story of the last two people on earth—a father and daughter. The novel explores powerful themes about the importance of intergenerational storytelling, our complicated relationship with the environment, and how to prepare for an unknown future. With a home in Jaffrey, Andrew Krivak has shared how Mt. Monadnock inspired the book’s setting, making The Bear a timely, local choice for our statewide read.

“New Hampshire Humanities is thrilled to have received this significant NEA grant to bring this popular national program, the Big Read, back to the state, especially with the opportunity to feature a New Hampshire-based author,” said Marcia Kelly, NHH Board Chair. “In addition to New Hampshire Humanities’ robust slate of programming, the strong response from our partners and public libraries means that families across New Hampshire can explore a thought-provoking story and experience the enduring power of literature together.”

The Big Read will take place from September through November 2023 and will feature book discussions, public programs, and a public Q&A with Andrew Krivak, all free and open to the public. Events will take place in all ten counties in the state.

With financial support from NHH, 50 public libraries will partner with a community organization to host both a community event and discussion of The Bear. NHH will provide all participants with a complimentary copy of the book, purchased through Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord.

In addition to supporting these local events, NHH will host four public programs and a culminating event. The Big Read will kick off with a public event on September 6 at Great North Aleworks in Manchester and feature a dramatic reading from the novel. On September 8, NHH will host Dr. Brent Ryan Bellamy for a virtual discussion exploring what a recent slate of postapocalyptic books might reveal about our contemporary anxieties. On September 23, NHH will partner with the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center for a planetarium show in which participants will experience how the daughter used the stars to track the passage of time in the novel. On November 3, poet Midge Goldberg will lead a virtual discussion and examine how poets have told stories about the night sky throughout human history.

The Big Read will culminate with public discussion and book signing with author Andrew Krivak at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage in Concord on October 14.

Working with the NH Department of Corrections through our Connections program, NHH will use The Bear to encourage incarcerated parents to tell their own stories and reflect on the role parents hold in sharing knowledge of the past with their children.

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For a complete list of Big Read partner organizations, questions, and or more information, visit http://www.nhhumanities.org/bigread, or contact New Hampshire Humanities at (603) 224-4071 or email info@nhhumanities.org

New Hampshire Humanities (NHH) funds and supports programs that inspire curiosity, foster civil dialogue, and explore big questions. An independent, statewide nonprofit, NHH made possible last year 587 free public programs and digital broadcasts reaching 17,859 residents in partnership with 210 organizations in 121 communities, to engage all citizens, regardless of their age or educational level. For more information about New Hampshire Humanities, please visit www.nhhumanities.org.

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency and is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide and a catalyst of public and private support for the arts. By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States. Visit arts.gov to learn more.

Arts Midwest supports, informs, and celebrates Midwestern creativity. We build community and opportunity across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, the Native Nations that share this geography, and beyond. As one of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest works to strengthen local arts and culture efforts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, state agencies, private funders, and many others. Learn more at artsmidwest.org.

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