Young Auditorium receives grant to host 4th Community Big Read

Young Auditorium receives grant to host 4th Community Big Read

 For the fourth year in a row, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded a local partnership to bring the national Big Read initiative to Rock, Walworth, Jefferson and adjacent counties.  Mark Twain in the Rock River Basin will be the focus of this year’s Big Read in southeastern Wisconsin.  Led by the Irvin L. Young Library in Whitewater, the Arrowhead Library System in Rock County, and UW-Whitewater’s Young Auditorium, the Big Read will provide a host of activities and in-school outreach.  Twenty-three area library partners, from Beloit, to Watertown and beyond will be hosting events in April.

For 2012 the theme of Twain in the Rock River Basin will link our community’s physical location, as part of the greater Mississippi River Basin and our connection as a nearby hub on the Underground Railroad.  Investigating Twain’s seminal novel will take place in our community’s Big Read through the written word, the spoken word, visual images and cultural engagement bringing together diverse groups for fellowship.

Big Read 2012 Highlights:

Big Read Mural: Noted children’s book illustrator Joel Tanis will discuss the 2011 Big Read Mural and his own artistic methods.  In 2011, Joel worked with students from four area schools to create a culminating artistic response to Edgar Allan Poe’s writing.  The students created four large 4’x6’ panels that depict scenes from the works of Poe.  Joel will once again be working with four area schools for the 2012 Big Read.  Students will delve into specific works by Twain to create visual art that captures the mood and emotions of the author’s work.  2012 participating schools include:  St. Joseph’s School in Fort Atkinson; Eastview Elementary in Lake Geneva;  Jefferson Elementary in Janesville;  and East Troy High School in East Troy.  The 2012 mural will be unveiled at the Big Read Kick Off at the historic Horticultural Hall in Lake Geneva, Thursday, March 29th at 6:00 pm.

Big Read Kick Off at the historic Horticultural Hall in Lake Geneva, Thursday, March 29th at 6:00 pm. The community is invited to join the Kick Off of our region’s fourth Big Read.  Please join us for free refreshments and prizes.  Big Read Mural Unveiling with Joel Schoon Tanis.  Free.  Noted children’s book illustrator Joel Tanis will unveil the 2012 Big Read Mural.  Joel worked with students from four area schools to create a culminating artistic response to Mark Twain’s writing.  Participating schools include:  St. Joseph’s School in Fort Atkinson: Eastview Elementary in Lake Geneva, Jefferson Elementary in Janesville, East Troy High School, East Troy.  Posters of the mural will be available for signing by Joel and the student artists.

Hal Holbrook presents Mark Twain Tonight!  On April 21, 2012, 7:30.  Legendary actor Hal Holbrook presents his historic portrayal of Mark Twain.  Hal Holbrook has been awarded an Emmy and Tony Award for his indelible personification of Mark Twain, a role that he has been performing since 1954.

And Glory Shone by The Rose Ensemble.  April 10, 2012, 7:30. This award winning ensemble from St. Paul, MN, will perform a special selection of early American hymns, ballads and spiritual songs that will evoke Tom Sawyer’s America.

No Foolin’ A Free Book.  4/1/12 or 4/2/12. All public library partners will kick-off the Big Read by offering give-away of books, student designed t-shirts and tickets to the performance of The Rose Ensemble.

Mark Twain’s Racial Relevance.  Free lecture and discussion by Dr. Alan Gribben on Monday April 9, 2012, 7:00 PM.  Part of the College of Letters and Sciences Contemporary Lecture Series. Dr. Allan Gribben is a nationally recognized Mark Twain scholar who sparked considerable controversy when he published versions of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in 2011 that removed a racial pejorative as an attempt to reverse the trend of school districts removing both books from their reading lists.

Moments with Mark Twain. Geneva Lake Art Association 2012 Spring Exhibit. February 3-29, 2012. 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.  Opening reception February 3, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.  GLAA Gallery.  This show highlights GLAA Member works recall images of the 19th Century time period, Twain’s stories, the grandeur of the Mississippi, or other images that are inspired by this literary icon.  The Geneva Lake Art Association gallery and art school are located inside the North Shore Pavilion Mall at 647 E. Main Street, Lake Geneva.

Big Read Finale and Big Read MuralFriday, May 4th 5:00—7:00 PM. Milton House Museum, 18 South Janesville, St., Milton, WI. Free.  Join us for refreshments and an exhibit of the Big Read.  Learn about the success of the program and plans for 2013.

Through the Eyes of Jim.  A new production by Uprooted Theatre. Milwaukee’s Uprooted Theatre Company, whose mission is to engage the community through the performing arts for the exploration and expression of African-American voices and cultural experiences, will present a performance as part of the Young Auditorium’s Horizon Matinee Series.  The performance will give a unique point of view of Twain’s work as interpreted through the slave Jim’s perspective.  A community performance will take place at the Milton House Museum, as part of the Big Read finale, Friday, May 4th at 7:00 pm. Tickets available by calling the Milton House at 608-868-7772.  The Milton House Museum is Wisconsin’s only authenticated stop on the Underground Railroad.

Check your local library for their participation and event calendar.  Updates will be available at the Big Read Blog:

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has selected 76 not-for-profit organizations have been recommended for grants totaling $1,000,050 to host a Big Read project between September 2011 and June 2012. The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

The Big Read provides communities nationwide with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 31 selections from U.S. and world literature.. Among the organizations receiving a Big Read grant are libraries, humanities councils, museums, theater companies, literary centers and presses, public broadcasting stations, universities, YMCAs, and boys & girls clubs. The selected organizations will receive Big Read grants ranging from $2,500 to $17,000 to promote and carry out community-based programs.

NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “Since 2006, nearly three million Americans have attended a Big Read event, more than 39,000 volunteers have participated locally, and nearly 27,000 community partner organizations have been involved. The Big Read’s success depends on these commitments of time, energy, and enthusiasm and I look forward to seeing these 76 communities come together in celebration of a great work of literature.”

Participating communities also receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title, which also are available for download on Reader’s Guides include author biographies, historical context for the book, and discussion questions. Teacher’s Guides are developed with the National Council of Teachers of English and State Language Arts standards in mind and include lesson plans, essay topics, and classroom handouts. The Big Read Audio Guides feature readings from the novel along with commentary from renowned artists, educators, and public figures.

Each community’s Big Read includes a kick-off event to launch the program; activities devoted specifically to its Big Read book or poet (e.g., panel discussions, lectures, public readings); events using the selection as a point of departure (e.g., film screenings, theatrical readings, exhibits); and book discussions in diverse locations aimed at a wide range of audiences.


The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, 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 please contact Young Auditorium at 262-472-4444 or check us out on the web at

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