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NEA Awards CityLit Project First Federal Grant


CityLit Project recently received a grant for $10,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, marking the first time that the six-year-old organization has been awarded a federal grant.  CityLit was among sixty-four recipients--and just one of two Maryland-based nonprofits--to land a grant under the "Literature" category of NEA's Access to Artistic Excellence initiative.

It also places CityLit in the company of older, more established literary centers such as The Loft in Minneapolis, Just Buffalo in Buffalo, The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Grub Street in Boston, and the Richard Hugo House in Seattle.

The grant will support the 2011 edition of CityLit Festival, the organization's signature event presented in partnership with Enoch Pratt Free Library. Since 2004, the festival has featured Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, Pushcart Prize-winning poets, National Book Award winners, highly acclaimed authors from a variety of genres, Baltimore's own literary artists, and emerging voices.  (Read more here and here.)  Creating an atmosphere where first-time authors mingle with nationally known writers, the festival helps foster an enthusiastic community of readers and writers. In fact, just last summer Baltimore magazine called it "a can't miss event on the city's cultural scene." 

Funds will be used in part to video and audio record events for later broadcast on CityLit's web site, Facebook, and YouTube so that thousands of others can enjoy the array of literary artists and engaging panel discussions.

"It's not only our largest single grant to date, but it's a further accreditation of the quality of CityLit's programs and the service we're providing the community," said Gregg Wilhelm, executive director of CityLit Project.

The organization has received critical on-going support from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and The Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council, as well as the Baltimore Community Foundation for the creation of its new web site in 2009, but the NEA grant might be a "seal of approval" CityLit could highlight when approaching nationally based foundations and corporations.

"The grant acknowledges the hard work that CityLit and Pratt Library have put into the festival to not only make it a significant event for Baltimore, but perhaps one of the up-and-coming literary festivals in the country," said Wilhelm.

The next CityLit Festival is slated for Saturday, April 16, 2011.


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