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Miami Dade College’s Florida Center for the Literary Arts awarded Big Read grant for third consecutive year

FCLA to read and celebrate Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston during Big Read program

Miami, January 11, 2008 - The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has once again chosen the Florida Center for the Literary Arts (Florida Center) at Miami Dade College (MDC) to receive a $20,000 grant to host the Big Read program to promote literary reading by encouraging the community to read one of 16 classic novels from January-June 2008. During the first half of 2008, the Center will lead a campaign to urge South Florida residents to read Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.

“We’re very honored to be involved with the Big Read for the third year in a row,” said MDC’s Florida Center Director Alina Interián. “Our hope is that this particular selection will give readers of all ages the opportunity to appreciate Hurston’s contribution to American Literature of the 20th century.”

Participating cities and towns also receive reader’s guides and teacher’s guides for each novel, audio guides that also can be used for radio programming, promotional materials, an online organizer’s guide for running a successful Big Read program, and access to a comprehensive Big Read Web site. Each local program will include events, such as book discussions, film screenings, and library and museum exhibits, aimed at avid and lapsed or reluctant readers alike.

“In just two years, the Big Read has grown from ten communities to include nearly 200 towns and cities nationwide,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. ”Although each of these communities celebrates its Big Read program in its own way, one theme we consistently hear back is that the Big Read is not just bringing citizens back to the joy of reading, but also reinvigorating the very idea of community. I am delighted to announce the newest round of Big Read communities in this program, which is about so much more than reading.”

The Florida Center for the Literary Arts at MDC is one of 127 libraries, municipalities, and arts, culture, higher education, and science organizations to receive a grant to promote and carry out community-based Big Read programs. 

The latest Big Read grantees represent 38 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. By 2009, approximately 400 communities in the U.S. will have hosted a Big Read since the program’s launch.

"The Big Read is reaching across state and international borders," said Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the NEA's lead federal partner for the Big Read. "As director of the IMLS, the federal agency that funds libraries and museums, I am pleased to support this initiative that is creating a new generation of readers. The sky is truly the limit with this partnership."

The NEA launched the Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The initiative is designed to restore literary reading to the center of American culture. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

The Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College promotes reading and writing throughout the year by consistently presenting high-quality literary activities open to all in South Florida. The Center works with established and emerging writers from Florida and beyond. Through Center programs, they help students and diverse members of the community deepen their understanding of literature and sharpen their creative writing abilities. The Center’s literacy-focused initiatives, One Book, One Community; One Picture Book, One Community; and El Club de Lectores, encourage an appreciation for books with the goal of fostering dialogue in the community and enhancing the reading skills of children and adults.  For more information, please visit

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts—both new and established—bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. For more information, please visit

Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For more information, please visit

For more information on FCLA’s Big Read program, contact Roselyne Pirson (305) 237-7261.

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director

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