AAP, CLMP, and NBF Join Forces to Provide $3.5 Million in Emergency Funds for Literary Organizations and Publishers

Three national nonprofit literary arts organizations—the Academy of American Poets (AAP), Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), and National Book Foundation (NBF)—have come together in a historic collaboration to establish the Literary Arts Emergency Fund, which will provide $3.5 million to the literary arts, a field that has been disastrously impacted by COVID-19. Regrants from this fund, made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be distributed by September 15, 2020.

According to the Americans for the Arts’ survey on the economic impact of COVID-19, 253 literary organizations reported over $7.2 million total losses to date.

“Writers create humanity’s vast and intricate human record—they are the chroniclers of our joys and fears, our varied inner lives, our humor, anguish, and determination. This one-time emergency grant provides critical support both for these vital storytellers and for the organizations that ensure their written work remains accessible to enrich and deepen our collective engagement with a diverse, inclusive American culture,” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and President of the Mellon Foundation.

“Literary arts organizations and publishers are critical to sustaining a vibrant literary culture. At the same time, the literary arts field is one of the most underfunded in culture and therefore especially vulnerable. We are grateful to the Mellon Foundation and hope that other foundations and philanthropists will follow in their footsteps and support our work,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation.

The vast majority of our nation’s 235,000 working writers (the number of writers in the labor force according to the National Endowment for the Arts’ April 2019 report “Artists & Other Cultural Workers”) make their living and share their work outside of commercial publishing and for-profit venues.

Nonprofit literary organizations and publishers, of which there are approximately 300 nationwide, assist poets and writers by presenting them at thousands of events and by publishing and distributing thousands of poems, stories, and essays in books, magazines, and through open online archives. They also employ writers as teaching artists who bring literature into classrooms; offer workshops, festivals, and conferences; support the creative practice of poets and writers by providing millions of dollars in grants and fellowships; and honor the achievements of poets and writers, giving their work visibility. Together, these organizations reach more than 75 million readers each year.

Literary organizations and publishers can view guidelines and apply to the Literary Arts Emergency Fund for one-time emergency relief grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 July 17, 2020, through August 7, 2020, by visiting literaryartsemergencyfund.submittable.com/submit.

Applications will be considered by three panels, each organized by one of the administering organizations. The panelists working with the National Book Foundation are Ken Chen, Andre Perry, and Keren Taylor. Read more about the panelists here.

To donate to the Literary Arts Emergency Fund, please visit: https://poets.org/donate/litfund or contact Jennifer Benka at [email protected].

The Literary Arts Emergency Fund is separate from Artist Relief, which provides emergency grants to individual artists and writers facing dire financial need due to COVID-19, though The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has supported both efforts and the Academy of American Poets is assisting with both as well.

National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas Stepping Down

Lucas will step down at the end of the year to become Senior Vice President & Publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books. The NBF Board of Directors will conduct a national search for her replacement.

The Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation announced that Lisa Lucas will be stepping down from her role as Executive Director at the end of the year to become Senior Vice President & Publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books, imprints of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.

“Lisa has significantly increased the visibility and impact of the National Book Awards, and substantially expanded all of the Foundation’s programs,” said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors. “She has been the energetic heartbeat of the Foundation, and we are deeply appreciative of her years of leadership. We congratulate Lisa on this exciting new career opportunity, and look forward to her continuing to make a difference in the years ahead. The Board will soon begin a national search for her replacement.”

Lucas became the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation (NBF) in 2016. During her time as Executive Director, Lucas launched the National Book Award for Translated Literature, the first new Award in more than two decades, and revamped the long-standing citizenship requirements of the National Book Awards to include non-United States citizens and those with particularly complex immigration status. She also oversaw jury panels that awarded National Book Awards and lifetime achievement awards to John Lewis, Ibram X. Kendi, Colson Whitehead, Robert A. Caro, Masha Gessen, Elizabeth Acevedo, and László Krasznahorkai, among many others.

Lucas also used her position to advance NBF’s mission of celebrating the best literature in America by producing numerous educational programs and public programs that connect readers in every community to books. Lucas was instrumental in securing a $900,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for national public programming at colleges, libraries, and performing houses. She expanded existing public programs and pioneered new efforts including Literature for Justice, which distributed thousands of books into prisons this year. Under Lucas’s leadership, and in partnership with the United States Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, the Urban Libraries Council, and the National Center for Families Learning, the National Book Foundation launched the Book Rich Environments program, which over the past four years has provided 1.4 million books to young people and families in public housing across the country.

“It has been an amazing privilege to lead the National Book Foundation these past few years and to work alongside, and champion, some of the greatest writers of our generation. I am so, so proud of what the NBF has accomplished through its public programs and education initiatives, and I am thankful for the extraordinary staff and Board of Directors who empowered the work,” said Lisa Lucas. “It will be a pleasure to cheer them on as the Foundation continues to elevate and promote great literature throughout the country for years to come.”

“I’ve loved watching Lisa and the National Book Foundation revitalize and reshape the American conversation about books for the past five years, and I’ve been so grateful for everything they’ve done on behalf of writers and readers,” said Reagan Arthur, Executive Vice President and Publisher at Knopf, Pantheon, and Schocken who hired Lucas. “Lisa has brought such incredible energy and excitement into the book world, and I’m thrilled to see her continue that work at Pantheon.”

The 71st National Book Awards will be an Exclusively Digital Ceremony

All 2020 National Book Awards events, including the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony on November 18, will be held online.

The National Book Foundation announced that all events of National Book Awards week, including the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony on November 18, will be held virtually in light of public health concerns related to the coronavirus and to ensure the safety of all participants.

“Though the medium is new, the entire Board and National Book Foundation staff remain committed to hosting a National Book Awards celebration that is a beacon of hope for all who attend–from our incredible Judges and future Finalists to readers everywhere–and one that maintains the high standards that have come to be associated with the Awards and the National Book Foundation,” said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors.

With the transition to exclusively digital events, the National Book Foundation is spacing out its traditional National Book Awards week throughout October and November. The first event, 5 Under 35, which recognizes emerging fiction writers, will take place on Tuesday, October 20. The National Book Awards Finalist Reading will be on Tuesday, November 10 and feature readings from all 25 Finalists’ books. In partnership with the Miami Book Fair, the Teen Press Conference will go live on Monday, November 16. The events will culminate with the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, November 18. Over the years, the events of the National Book Awards week have commemorated works of scholarship alongside moving verse and narratives of all kinds. Though the Awards this year will not be an in-person dinner and ceremony in New York City, the National Book Foundation looks forward to adding to its family of celebrated authors and landmark works.

At the center of the National Book Foundation is its mission to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture. This year, in the midst of a global pandemic, the National Book Foundation persisted in its mission, and opened submissions to the National Book Awards from April 1 through May 20. Even in these changing and unprecedented times, the number of submissions from publishers did not decline from previous years, showing the commitment of the entire publishing community to our mission to honor books, to champion the work of writers, and to protect, stimulate, and promote discourse in American culture. Since the first National Book Awards in 1950, the literary community has gathered to celebrate literary excellence, commemorating new talent alongside established writers and artists. The tradition of honoring National Book Awards Longlisters, Finalists, and Winners will continue, in no small part thanks to the incredible commitment of our 2020 Judges, who are reading all submissions digitally this year.

“We are so grateful to this year’s judging panels, and this work could not be done without them,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “The National Book Awards are a celebration of books and all the people who have a hand in forming them. As a country, and within the literary community, we have all experienced a shift in reality; yet through this collective uncertainty, we are dedicated to centering and elevating the work of writers who are grounding us and giving us the gift of their words. The ceremony in November is the time for doing so and we look forward to sharing it with all of you.”

The National Book Foundation will share further updates and news about its plans for 5 Under 35, the National Book Awards Finalist Reading, Teen Press Conference, and the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony in the coming weeks and months. Every year, but especially this one, it is our greatest hope that the National Book Awards will be shared with readers everywhere, as we collectively continue the tradition of bestowing one of the most meaningful accolades in literature to all of the 2020 recipients.