R-C Selected as NJ The Big Read Site

by Press Release--Rutgers-Camden | Aug 8, 2010
R-C Selected as NJ The Big Read Site The seminal novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God" will be in the hands and on the minds of thousands of Camden residents come January. Thanks to a $17,050 National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts will motivate new and returning readers to Zora Neale Thurston’s classic work as New Jersey’s only The Big Read grantee.

Now in its fifth year, NEA’s The Big Read program promotes a lifelong love of reading by uniting communities across the nation in discussion and celebration of one of 31 selections from U.S. and world literature. As the only site within the Garden State of the 75 not-for-profit organizations selected from across the nation, Rutgers–Camden aims to connect approximately 6,000 New Jerseyeans to the influential book and each other.

“I think there is power in many people in one community reading the same book…and at least for a while, everyone is literally ‘on the same page,’” offers Noreen Scott Garrity, deputy director and curator of education for the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts. “Now in its second year, the Big Read has become a literary happening in Camden. We had many people ask us what book we’re doing next year, so we are very fortunate to have received The Big Read grant again.”

From January through March, the Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts will host a number of events organized around Their Eyes Were Watching God, including a kick-off event where copies of the book will be distributed; 10 or more discussions; an exhibit in the Stedman Gallery; several jazz performances; and opportunities for area high school students to produce visual artwork inspired by the novel. Public programs will be free of charge and open to all Camden residents.

First published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God has been regarded as a highly influential work in both African American and women’s literature. Set in Florida in the early 20th century, the novel relays, through dialect specific to the region, Janie Crawford’s trials with marriage, community, and identity. In 2005, the novel was adapted into a television movie that starred Halle Berry and was produced by Oprah Winfrey.

In partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and in cooperation with Arts Midwest, The Big Read offers grants ranging from $2,500 to $17,050 to promote and carry out community-based programs. Participating communities also receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title.

The Rutgers–Camden Center for the Arts seeks to provide performances, exhibitions, education programs, and community projects, that inspire a full appreciation and enjoyment of the arts, create meaningful opportunities to participate in the arts, advance the central role of the arts in preK-12 education, and increase awareness of the arts as essential to cultural, economic, and community vitality.

For additional information about The Big Read at Rutgers–Camden, contact Noreen Scott Garrity at (856) 225-6306.

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Author: Press Release--Rutgers-Camden

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