News Release: Massillon Museum Earns 17th NEA Big Read Grant for 2024
The Massillon Museum is one of 62 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2023–2024 NEA Big Read grant. The grant—which MassMu has received 17 years in succession—will support a community reading program focused on Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi in April 2024. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience.
“Working with community partners, MassMu develops top-notch programming to add interest and depth to reading good literature,” said the Museum’s education and outreach manager, Stephanie Toole, who will coordinate the NEA Big Read locally. Massillon Public Library, the lead partner, is joined by longterm partners as well as organizations appropriate to the book selection each year.
Toole says readers can look forward to traditional Big Read activities—a lively kick-off event and book giveaway, one-act plays, book discussions, a related Brown Bag Lunch and History Happy Hour, and a keynote program—as well as new activities that target this year’s book themes.
“The NEA Big Read brings the transformative experience of reading to an entire community,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. “This year’s grantees, including the Massillon Museum, are taking themes off the page and using creative programming to navigate difficult topics, explore new perspectives, and strengthen bonds between neighbors.”
The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire meaningful conversations, artistic responses, and new discoveries and connections in each community. 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.
“Using the captivating power of literature, NEA Big Read events unleash the creative spirit that resides within all of us,” said Torrie Allen, President and CEO of Arts Midwest. “We’re thrilled to support the work of grantees across the nation, including the Massillon Museum, as they inspire conversations and artistic expressions through shared reading experiences.”
A New York Times notable book, one of Oprah’s Best Books of the Year, and a PEN/Hemingway award winner, Homegoing follows the parallel paths of sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,800 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $25 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, NEA Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Grantees have leveraged more than $57 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than six million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 100,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 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 arts.gov/neabigread.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that 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.
ABOUT ARTS MIDWEST
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.
ABOUT THE MASSILLON MUSEUM
The Massillon Museum collects, preserves, and exhibits art and artifacts to enrich its community through education and experience. Annually, MassMu’s NEA Big Read encompasses about 30 free public events related to the book selection. Dozens of additional events, exhibitions, and classes draw guests to the Museum throughout the year. A visit is always free. MassMu is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon. For more information, call 330-833-4061 or visit massillonmuseum.org.
Alexandra Nicholis Coon – Massillon Museum Executive Director – 330.833.4061 x111
Stephanie Toole – Massillon Museum Education and Outreach Manager – 330.833.4061 x104
Margy Vogt – Massillon Museum Public Relations Coordinator – 330.844.1525