For the second year in a row, two local organizations have received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to host the countywide Santa Cruz Reads (SCR) project in 2013.
Known as the NEA Big Read grant, the $20,000 award will go towards the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries (FSCPL) and the Santa Cruz Public Libraries (SCPL) to fund a series of community and local school events centered on John Steinbeck's novel, The Grapes of Wrath.
"This was really a community effort," said Jory Post, a SCR coordinator, of the work needed to receive the grant. "Getting the grant requires partnership with the , which we have a great relationship with."
According to a joint FSCPL/SCPL press release, 78 grants, ranging from $2,500 to $20,000, were awarded across the country. SCR received the maximum grant available.
Post said that while last year's program, based around works by Edgar Allen Poe, was successful, 2013's will be even better.
"We'll have [county] teachers participating at all grade levels, reading Grapes of Wrath and other Steinbeck works in the classroom," he said. "There is also the possibility of performances."
The program will run for one month, beginning February 27, 2013 and ending March 27. The program's start day holds special significance for the year's theme as it marks the 111th anniversary of Steinbeck's birth.
Ten discussion groups, photography, essay, poetry and fiction contests are all on tap for the month. Post said a song-writing contest might also be in the works.
The Grapes of Wrath was chosen by SCR organizers from among 31 selections from U.S. and world literature, according to the press release.
"Santa Cruz Reads believes great literature encourages conversations and stimulates thinking, which is why The Grapes of Wrath is the ideal selection for the 2012-2013 program," said Janis O'Driscoll, SCPL's programs and partnerships manager, in the release. "The themes raised 80 years ago by Steinbeck—the impacts of unemployment, foreclosures, hunger and extreme weather on family and society—have never been more relevant than they are today."