Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”Aristotle

Christmas 2019 is now in the past as is the downtime from my responsibilities for the festival and literary programs I organize. As I look ahead at the 2020 festival, I’m overwhelmed. Part of it is the insane amount of work.  

But that’s not really it. I’m used to a great deal of work. I’m not smart enough to do things any other way. I typically put one foot in front of the other, jot down a plan, make umpteen lists and go for it. I think of the consequences later.

We had one of the best festivals ever in 2019. Many reading events and workshops were sold out, our audiences provided lots of positive feedback about our line up, and we managed all the logistics seamlessly (well, at least to the naked eye). 

Not all our funders came through, so we fell into the red. After so much success, this came as a blow. And I can’t help it, but I take these things personally. Again I questioned why I was putting on this festival. If anything can get me down, it’s chasing the money we need for our programming. And the fact that we can’t count on it from one year to the next makes it doubly difficult. 

Our ticket pricing is kept low because I want our programs to be accessible to everyone. Even with this goal in mind, over 40% of our revenue comes from ticket sales. The rest comes from federal, provincial and municipal grants, foundations and private donors. 

I knock on a lot of doors and some give and others don’t. There are many out there who need. So I understand. 

Still it’s frustrating and thoughts of giving up haunted me. 

Then I came home after Christmas to a number of lovely notes. Here is one example: 

We have just been so impressed with your festival and everything you do throughout the year. You are a huge asset to the entire book-loving region, and we can’t imagine BC without you. I personally have been motivated to keep writing by the festivals, the occasional festival emails, and by reading the authors you have featured. We’re so hoping our small donation (compared to your budget) helps and that others will be just as inspired to donate as well. Thanks so much again, and keep on keeping on! 

And there were several donations, a total number of cheques amounting to more than $2,000. 

So when someone else asked me if the festival would continue, I couldn’t help but reply, of course. I’m nothing if not stubborn. And motivated by the generosity, kindness and the light of so many.

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