Cindy Filipenko's column in the Question and G.D. Maxwell's column in the Pique last week each touched on Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funds and the potential of using these funds to create a new fall festival.
We already have a fall festival. In fact we have more than one fall festival here and the ones we do have could use financial support to ensure their growth and longevity. We don't need something new. We need to support what we have and build on it.
Let me tell you about my own festival as an example of a local event that could use more financial support. The Whistler Readers and Writers Festival (Oct. 12 to 14) showcases some of Canada's leading literary artists, and over the years has produced a multi-day, multi-venue, multi-artist event that combines developmental workshops, reading events, music, spoken word and the literary arts in an inclusive, intimate event that has received rave reviews from participants and guest authors alike.
As one guest author wrote in her evaluation form last year, “Today, I gave my students a summary of the weekend at the Whistler festival and told them if they are thinking of one festival to attend next year, make it Whistler’s.”
This year will mark the 11th year of the Whistler Readers and Writers Festival. This event is run completely by volunteers who would like to see the festival continue to provide programming that is accessible and affordable, yet it is difficult to do this with our limited resources. We have no operational budget and while we have received grant funding from several levels of government, including funding through the Community Enrichment Program, and this year for the first time, through a small RMI grant, this money is used to bring in guest authors, advertise our event as well as cover venue costs. We are very thankful for these grants, but it is simply not enough.
We realize that in order to expand and thrive we need seed money and support and RMI funds may be out best hope. So rather than create a new festival, supporting a festival like the Readers and Writers Festival, which is connected, acclaimed, credible and growing is an opportunity for the RMOW to use RMI funds to share in our growth and support a grassroots organization started right here in Whistler by locals.
As author Brian Brett said, “Writers’ festivals and writer-in-residence programs are absolutely essential for keeping Canadians connected, reviving writers and the audiences, and for fostering local culture and identity,” Brian Brett, 2010 Whistler Writer-in-Residence and winner of the 2009 Writers’ Trust of Canada Non-Fiction Prize.
I hope to see you at the 2012 Whistler Readers and Writers Festival. Program and tickets available at: www.theviciouscircle.ca
Stella L. Harvey
Founder, the Vicious Circle
Director, Whistler Readers and Writers Festival