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Stage Left Players receive NEA Big Read Grant

LISBON — Stage Left Players Community Arts Center is one of 62 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2022-2023 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $8,375 will support community arts and reading programs building on the themes and story of The Bear by Andrew Krivak. Events will take place from Sept. 10, 2022 through May 6, 2023. 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.

“We are honored to be one of 62 recipients nationally of NEA Big Read funding to bring the beautiful story The Bear to our community in partnership with The Lepper Library and many other local organizations. As Stage Left expands its vision and mission to serve as your local community arts center, we plan to provide many ways to engage and delight our community through this program,” said Kandy Cleland, Artistic Director of Stage Left Players Community Arts Center.

“It is inspiring to see how NEA Big Read grantees like Stage Left Players utilize these books as launchpads for their own programming, often creating opportunities for community conversations, new partnerships, and encouraging participants to incorporate art into their daily lives,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts.

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.

“All across America, in communities small and large, the NEA Big Read connects neighbors and inspires creativity,” said Torrie Allen, President & CEO of Arts Midwest. “We’re excited to support grantees like Stage Left Players Community Arts Center as they bring the pages of these wonderful books to life through inventive programming.”

Stage Left will be partnering with The Lepper Library, local school districts, and many other local and regional organizations to provide programming connected to The Bear from September 2022 to May 2023. The Bear is a post-apocalyptic fable about a father and daughter, the last two people on Earth, who live off the land at the foot of a mountain. When the daughter finds herself lost and alone, a bear appears to lead her back home. Themes from The Bear will be adapted to provide fun activities for every age group. Some planned initiatives include a kick-off festival hosted by Stage Left at the historic Trinity Playhouse in September, book discussions and programming hosted by The Lepper Library, a family friendly nature hike, family paint & sip nights, creative open house sessions for artists, a panel book discussion, an evening navigating the stars, and a community arts show. For details on each program, visit stageleftplayers.org. Stage Left welcomes any community partners interested in hosting a book club or joining in the festivities to reach out to Kandy Cleland at stageleftseats@gmail.com.

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