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An Arts Endowment initiative in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. The Ackland is one of 84 nonprofit organizations selected to receive an NEA Big Read grant to support a community reading program.

NEA Big Read at the Ackland will focus on Advice from the Lights by author Stephanie Burt. Events reflecting LGBTQ+ lives and experiences — including a keynote conversation with the author, a series of book discussions, and Drag Storytime for children — will take place virtually on ackland.org from Oct. 11 – Dec. 4. The NEA Big Read at the Ackland has been organized in partnership with the Chapel Hill Public Library and Carolina Public Humanities at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The programming will kick off with a free conversational program with the author Stephanie Burt in conversation with Jacob Lau (Women’s and Gender Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill) on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Following the kick-off event, the Ackland and its partners will host six book discussions of Burt’s Advice from the Lights with discussion facilitators from our community and three Drag Storytimes featuring local performers. The NEA Big Read at the Ackland is presented in connection with an ongoing installation of art by LGBTQ artists at the Ackland and several related programs, including a “Queer Cinema” virtual film series and artist talks.

NEA Big Read Events at the Ackland



Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | 7:30 p.m. EST
Virtual Kick-Off Event with Author Stephanie Burt
In conversation with Jacob Lau
Registration required at ackland.org


Virtual Book Discussions | October through December
Free and includes copy of Advice from the Lights
Registration limited and required at ackland.org

Friday, October 23 | 3:30-5 p.m. EST

Thursday, November 5 | 7-8:30 p.m. EST

Friday, November 6 | 3:30-5 p.m. EST

Thursday, December 3  | 7-8:30 p.m. EST

Friday, December 4 | 3:30-5 p.m. EST


Sundays in October: 11, 18, 25 | 2:30 p.m. EST
Virtual story time with local drag performers

Free; Registration required at ackland.org.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Additional Event Details

Sponsored by

  • National Endowment for the Arts