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Big Read coming to Columbus in early 2015


Courtesy image

Courtesy image



Jan Swoope



The pastime of curling up with a good book may take on added meaning in early 2015, when The Big Read kicks off in Columbus. The Columbus Arts Council announced Wednesday that it has received a grant of $11,800 to host the National Endowment for the Arts program in Lowndes County.  


The Big Read is designed to revitalize reading in American culture by exposing citizens to great works of literature, encouraging them to read for pleasure and enrichment. The Columbus Arts Council (CAC) is one of 77 nonprofit organizations to receive a grant to host a Big Read project between September 2014 and June 2015. In Columbus, the Read will focus on Thornton Wilder's "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," published in 1927. The novel earned the author one of his three Pulitzer Prizes.  


Local Big Read activities will take place between January and March 2015. The celebration will kick off with a Carnival-themed event and culminate in a week of performances of Wilder's "Our Town" in the CAC Omnova Theater. 


CAC Executive Director Tina Sweeten-Lunsford said, "The Columbus Arts Council is thrilled to partner with the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library and the Mississippi University for Women Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy to bring The Big Read to Columbus.  


"Fantastic programming has been scheduled to complement the book, including events like Peruvian music, documentaries and movies, book groups, a speaker's panel and a keynote by Penelope Niven, author of 'Thornton Wilder: A Life.'"  


NEA Acting Chairman Joan Shigekawa said, "While the act of reading is usually a solitary one, through the Big Read it will become a social one. 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." 




Reading together  


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 grants allow the selected organizations 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 quality free educational materials to supplement each title, including readers' guides, teachers' guides and audio programming. All are available to the public at 


The Columbus Arts Council works to present, promote, support and inspire artists and creative endeavors. It advocates a better understanding of and appreciation for the arts and their role in a diverse community. Founded in 1965 and incorporated in 1971, the CAC serves Columbus and Lowndes County through art classes, gallery shows, music and theater productions, seminars and more. 


The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, it has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. 


The Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout a nine-state region, promoting creativity, nurturing cultural leadership and fostering meaningful arts experiences. 














  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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