NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION EXPANDS NATIONWIDE LITERARY PROGRAMMING

"NBF Presents” to create unprecedented reach for the Foundation’s public programming, including “Literature for Justice,” “Author in Focus,” and “Notes from the Reading Life” series

The National Book Foundation today announced that beginning this spring, it will greatly expand its public programming under the banner of NBF Presents, which will comprise multiple series of author panels and book talks that focus on literature and its relationship to cultural issues and themes. This effort represents a major push to create wider programming that is able to serve a far larger and diverse population of readers. The Foundation will partner with libraries, colleges, festivals, conferences, schools, and performance venues to build comprehensive and accessible programming that brings National Book Awards authors and other acclaimed literary and academic figures to communities across America. Widely available digital assets tying into public events will be pushed out across online platforms, working in conjunction with author appearances to bring the literary discourse and esteem of the National Book Awards to broad American audiences. NBF Presents will grow the reach of the Foundation’s public programs with new projects like Literature for Justice, Author in Focus, and Notes from the Reading Life, while continuing and strengthening existing programs like the National Book Awards on Campus series and partnerships with Miami Book Fair, Tucson Festival of Books, and Virginia Festival of the Book.

“With NBF Presents, the National Book Foundation is reimagining the service that is possible for a literary arts organization. We continue to strive toward a holistic approach to literary access and cultural participation, one that aims to leave no community and no reader overlooked.”

— David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation

Anchored by a generous $900,000 three-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this ambitious expansion is made possible by a total of $1.4 million in new grant funding, including additional support from the Art for Justice Fund, Velvet Film with the support of the Ford Foundation, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. With this generous support, NBF Presents will produce over 30 programs in its first year, working with a variety of local institutions to bring literary programming to an array of rural, urban, and suburban communities across the country.

“With NBF Presents, the National Book Foundation is reimagining the service that is possible for a literary arts organization,” said David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “We continue to strive toward a holistic approach to literary access and cultural participation, one that aims to leave no community and no reader overlooked.”

This vigorous programming development seeks to tap into existing literary enthusiasm in a variety of communities throughout the country, but will also be specifically designed to target new audiences and enrich literary access in regions that are less frequently reached by national literary programs. By working with local partners, the Foundation seeks to build robust programming in dozens of communities to enrich access to national conversations around literature and culture. A multi-year project slated to add dozens of new engagements to the Foundation’s current programming, NBF Presents will curate thematic literary readings, discussions, and events on culturally relevant topics with National Book Award-honored authors and nationally recognized interlocutors.

This new programming will build on some of the Foundation’s most successful existing programs. NBA on Campus, now in its thirteenth year, works with colleges in Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Texas to bring recently-honored National Book Awards authors directly to audiences on their campuses. The Foundation partners yearly with large-scale book festivals like Miami Book Fair International and Virginia Festival of the Book to make National Book Awards programming available to their dedicated audiences. Using parts of these existing programs as a model, NBF Presents will greatly increase and diversify partnerships with local organizations throughout the United States.

“It’s more important than ever for the country to be having thoughtful, inclusive, national conversations. By forging partnerships across many states and reinforcing the literary resources available in these communities, we hope to help inspire those dialogues that will deepen understanding and create connection between readers across the nation.”

— Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation

“It’s more important than ever for the country to be having thoughtful, inclusive, national conversations,” said Lisa Lucas, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “By forging partnerships across many states and reinforcing the literary resources available in these communities, we hope to help inspire those dialogues that will deepen understanding and create connection between readers across the nation.”

NBF Presents will also include Literature for Justice, a focused project designed to raise awareness and inspire meaningful conversation about the crisis of mass incarceration. Made possible by a three-year grant from the Art for Justice Fund, Literature for Justice will use literature to contextualize and humanize the issue of mass incarceration in order to foster change. Literature for Justice is a three-tiered program that will: assemble a coalition of contemporary writers engaging with mass incarceration in the United States that will identify five titles a year to promote through the program; produce a unique, curated reading list of works designed to deepen readers’ understanding of the crisis of mass incarceration; and use the work of the coalition to encourage and amplify discussions around the topic through a combination of large-scale national events, digital campaigns, and media coverage. Literature for Justice will focus on bringing authors and programming to U.S. states with the largest prison populations, with multiple events annually over the span of three years.

The Foundation will also work with Velvet Film, the production company behind the 2017 acclaimed film, I Am Not Your Negro, to program Author in Focus: James Baldwin, a special series supported by the Ford Foundation, to be produced under the umbrella of the inaugural season of NBF Presents. This unique project will comprise a year of nationwide educational and public programming centered on the works of seminal author James Baldwin, and seeks to engage a broad, adult reading public, as well as new, younger, underserved, and potentially reluctant readers. The Author in Focus project will be designed to connect the work of Baldwin with a wide range of demographics including high-school teachers, librarians, and booksellers; the general adult reading public; high-school age students; and detained, incarcerated, and formerly incarcerated youth. By conducting a digital campaign and varying the types of audiences reached, the program will have a strong focus on inclusivity, reaching out to all types of literary and cultural audience members.

In New York City, the Foundation will present Notes from the Reading Life, a series of public engagements across the boroughs, co-presented by the National Book Foundation and The New York Public Library, supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. A series of four discussions in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, this program will feature non-literary celebrities, such as artists, actors, or comedians, who will discuss their connection to reading and identify books that they would like to recommend to neighborhood residents, copies of which will be made available to program attendees. Joining each celebrity will be a moderating author, including writers honored by the National Book Awards. Notes from the Reading Life will take place in June of 2018 at NYPL branches throughout New York City.

All of these projects will draw from the Foundation’s connections to exemplary literature and writers via the National Book Awards, which have been recognizing and amplifying great literature since 1950. The Foundation’s singular position as an awards organization with a rich background in service and educational programs provides a platform from which to design and execute exceptional literary programming with a broad reach. In addition to the dozens of events that will take place in the coming years, a wide array of digital assets will be designed and released online to foster truly national conversations happening in conjunction with programming.