The Patagonia Public Library and Patagonia Creative Arts Association (PCAA) have been selected to receive a 2021-2022 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read grant. The grant of $5,350 will support a community reading program focusing on “An American Sunrise” by Joy Harjo in the Fall of 2021.

An initiative of the NEA, in partnership with Arts Midwest, the Big Read grant broadens understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. 

“We are honored to be one of this year’s 61 projects selected to represent the NEA Big Read grant program,” said Laura Wenzel, director of Patagonia Public Library. “As we learn to navigate the world post-pandemic, we’re hoping to ‘meet’ the community again through poetry, music, art, and fellowship.”

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

“For 15 years the NEA Big Read has supported opportunities for communities to come together around a book, creating a shared experience that encourages openness and conversations around issues central to our lives,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We congratulate Patagonia Public Library and Patagonia Creative Arts Association for receiving an NEA Big Read grant and look forward to a wide variety of meaningful community events.”

The grant will provide funding for a variety of all-ages programs centered around the themes of “An American Sunrise” including a youth poetry slam, book discussions, art and ecology workshops, an Arizona Humanities speaker series, local artist showcases, and more. 

Project partners include: Borderlands Restoration Network, Friends of the Patagonia Library, PCAA, Patagonia Public Schools, the Patagonia Regional Times, and Town of Patagonia.

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $23 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 15 years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 90,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit