February Newsletter

Summer 2021 Programming
Legacy of Literacy Campaign Update
CABC Events in Schools
Monday Was A Simpler Time: copies still available
Community Events
I know many of you have been wondering and waiting for news about our plans for 2021. Thank you for your patience and for your gentle queries. The ground we walk upon is not quite settled as we await vaccines and keep an eye on the COVID-19 variants. Meanwhile, I am writing this newsletter with the office windows open. The sun is shining and the Rockwood garden is full of buds and birdsong. It helps me feel optimistic on a day like today.
Our plan for the summer of 2021 is based on our ability to gather in groups of up to 50. We are hopeful that restrictions will relax enough to allow us to do at least that and we hope they relax even more to allow us to increase that number. If the situation improves significantly, we will increase the number of events we can offer as well as seating capacity in the Festival Pavilion. Compliance with public health guidelines and safety will lead our way forward.
Our plan is to produce a summertime Sunday afternoon series of readings from July 4 to August 8. On Festival weekend, we will have 7 p.m. events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (August 13, 14, and 15) and 2 p.m. events on the Saturday and Sunday. That’s 11 events in total with capacity for an audience of 42-44. (Every body counts when it comes to the 50-person maximum.) In a typical year, we have 21 events over the course of four evenings and three days with a cumulative attendance of 8,500. It’s going to be another year at least before we get to that point.
Every event will be recorded by a professional videographer and the entire series (July 4 to August 15) will be posted online as a virtual Festival for the last two weeks of August.
Our goal is to limit the congregation of people on the grounds to 50 at any given time and follow the current COVID-19 safety protocols. To that end:
  • we will not provide outdoor seating or sound
  • there will be no concession
  • volunteers will manage line-ups for entry into the Pavilion and washrooms
  • personal contact information will be collected for contact tracing purposes

I expect many of you have questions about how ticket sales will be managed and what our volunteer needs will be. I don’t have these answers yet. To be honest, I have more questions than answers. Please bear with us as we work through the  details. While this is our working plan today, we have to remain flexible and responsive. The best laid plans are subject to change during a pandemic.

We thank the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council and the District of Sechelt for their ongoing support of the Festival. It is vital to our operations and our capacity to plan and proceed.

We thank everyone who sent donations to the Legacy of Literacy Endowment Campaign. We have been moved by your generosity and your trust and belief in the Festival. We are currently awaiting the outcome of the annual matching funds application to the Department of Canadian Heritage. We submitted an application on November 30 for over $100,000, representing donations received during the prior 12 months. Very impressive for a pandemic year! We are so grateful to all who brought us to this point.

Celebration of Authors, Books and Community (CABC) is a joint initiative of the Festival and School District 46 – Sunshine Coast. CABC brings Canadian writers into Sunshine Coast schools and classrooms to inspire student development as readers, writers, storytellers and critical thinkers. Everything changed this past year and all CABC events are now virtual. The upside is that we’ve been able to have more events because there are no travel and accommodation expenses. We’ve also been able to invite writers from other parts of the country to participate.

Carey Newman and Kirstie Hudson, co-authors of Picking Up the Pieces: Residential School Memories and The Making of the Witness Blanket, participated in two sessions with secondary school students on January 18. This book records the process and stories that went into the making of the Witness Blanket, a multi-media structure that includes objects and artifacts from residential schools, created by Carey Newman.

During the last week of January, we celebrated Family Literacy Week in our elementary schools with five outstanding writers. Kenneth OppelDanny RamadanMonique Gray Smith and Kevin Sylvester read from their books and talked to the students about their work, their process, and how and when they started writing. The students were  engaged, attentive, and enthusiastic. They asked so many questions we had to collect some after the sessions were over and send them to the authors. Meanwhile, Robin Stevenson was leading writing workshops for three grade 6-7 classes in our district. Literacy in action!

Coming to our schools later this spring are Jael Richardson and Jen Sookfong Lee.

Our anthology was a very popular Christmas gift this year! Thanks to all who purchased a copy (or copies). The sale of the anthology raised over $4,200 for the Legacy of Literacy endowment fund.  “I didn’t know how much I needed these words until I read them,” is a comment we’ve heard a few times. Monday Was a Simpler Time offers personal reflections on the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic from 15 Canadian writers, expressed through poetry, fiction, non-fiction and comics. You can find more information about this book here. Copies are still available and can be purchased from Talewind Books in Sechelt or through the Festival office.

Join Claire Finlayson, author of Dispatches from Ray’s Planet: A Journey Through Autism, in conversation with Maggie Schell, at the Powell River Public Library on Saturday, February 20 at 2 p.m. Advance registration required. Details are here. (Full disclosure: both Claire and Maggie are Festival Directors. We’re so proud of you, Claire!)

The Federation of BC Writers presents Telling the Truth: Conversations about Creative Nonfiction on Saturday, February 27 at 7 p.m. with Helen Knott and Andrea Bennett and host Megan Cole. Pre-register for this free event at bcwriters.ca/events-for-writers.

The BC & Yukon Book Prizes are offering a free workshop on Sunday, February 28 at 3 p.m. with Ivan Coyote, Chantal Gibson and Robin Stevenson with host Jonina Kirton. Register in advance here.

The Sunshine Coast Arts Council’s Spring Literary Reading Series is underway. The next event features Ronald J. Deibert, author of Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society on Saturday, March 6 at 7 p.m. Advance registration required.

Sunshine Coast publisher Caitlin Press has put out a call for tree poems for an anthology to be published in collaboration with Christine Lowther, Tofino Poet Laureate. “We especially encourage BIPOC writers and writers from the LGBTQ2S community, writers with disabilities, women-identifying authors, and youth of elementary and high school age to submit their work.” The details are here.

Also putting out a call to writers is Culture Days, a national celebration of arts and culture that takes place at the end of September every year. “Know someone with a flair for writing and insight into the arts and culture scene in Canada? We’re looking for folx to contribute to our special blog series, exploring our 2021 theme of RE:IMAGINE, and sharing stories from across the country.” https://culturedays.ca/en/about/current-opportunities

The 20th edition of Canada Reads kicks off on Monday, March 8. This year’s theme is One Book to Transport Us. All the details are at www.cbc.ca/books/CandaReads.

And that, friends, is all for now. If you would like to subscribe to our digital newsletter, please sign up on the Contact Us page.

Until the next time, be well and stay safe.

Jane Davidson
Artistic and Executive Director