The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded a $15,000 grant to The University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Theatre and Dance for activities tied to the annual Big Read on the Border set for spring 2020.
Adriana Dominguez, Ph.D., assistant professor of theatre arts and director of the undergraduate theatre programs, is the grant’s principal investigator.
The department will use Luis Urrea’s “Into the Beautiful North” as the basis of readings, discussions and performances around El Paso.
“We are incredibly excited about this opportunity to connect with the community through this novel,” Dominguez said.
She said the department would kick off a series of events with a reading at the Dorris Van Doren Library on April 4, 2020 and conclude with the stage adaptation of the novel April 24-May 3 in UTEP’s Wise Family Theatre.
Urrea’s 2009 novel is a tale of a young woman’s odyssey across the U.S.-Mexico border. The book, whose plot touches on the 1960 film “The Magnificent Seven,” explores internal divisions created by external borders.
The NEA initiative, done in partnership with Arts Midwest, promotes mutual understanding at the personal, community and global levels through the joy of sharing a good book.
El Paso is one of 78 communities nationwide that will participate in the NEA Big Read. The assignment begins Sept. 1, 2019, and ends June 30, 2020.
This is the second year that UTEP will participate in the project.
“It is inspiring to see both large and small communities across the nation come together around a book,” said NEA Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter. “We always look forward to the unique ways cities, towns and organizations, like El Paso, explore these stories and encourage community participation in a wide variety of events.”
Since 2006, the NEA has funded more than 1,400 NEA Big Read programs and provided more than $20 million to organizations nationwide.
Over the past 12 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, approximately 91,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have collaborated to make NEA Big Read activities possible.
The NEA initially awarded the department’s grant to Rebecca Rivas, a former UTEP assistant professor who separated from the University in early June 2019.