The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.
Each community event lasts approximately one month and includes a kick-off event to launch the program locally, ideally attended by the mayor and other local luminaries; major events devoted specifically to the book (panel discussions, author reading, and the like); events using the book as a point of departure (film screenings, theatrical readings, and so forth); and book discussions in diverse locations and aimed at a wide range of audiences.
In2 the West is a regional performance literature class that provides students with a unique writing and acting experience. In2 the West has in its roots based in the highly successful workshop and production of In the West of which both instructors Amparo Garcia-Crow and Sidney Brammer participated. Students enrolled in these interdisciplinary courses create their own monologues and work with fellow student actors, under the tutelage of seasoned directors, to bring these works to the stage.
Literary Gatherings offer a space for creative writing students to socialize and provide writers with an eager and supportive audience. “We’ll pack the place on a Monday night, even when there is a football game on,” quips Herndon who began organizing the student gatherings at Austin Java in the fall of 2004. They have been a huge success, with 60 to 75 people packed into the back patio of the café some nights, says Herndon. The readings are held once a month and begin about 7 pm. There is usually a featured reader who reads for about 15 to 20 minutes and then anyone who feels up to the challenge can take the stage and read for three to five minutes. Featured readers in the past have included ACC faculty members, students and former students, and poets and writers from around Texas