WHY SUPPORT WRITERHOUSE?

 

In May 2019, WriterHouse celebrated its 11th birthday. Eleven years of promoting the creation and appreciation of writers. Eleven years of providing writing classes, seminars, literary readings, children’s summer camps, and most importantly, a dedicated space for writers to practice their craft.

 

At our 11th Birthday Celebration, Board President Ron Harris had a few things to say about the importance of continued support for WriterHouse:

“WriterHouse is a community of people telling their stories and learning to tell them better. Some of us tell true stories, some of us make up stories, some of us tell stories in verse. So, I’m going to tell you a story about WriterHouse.

In the past year:
·      We’ve hosted 32 classes and 33 seminars.
·      500 students have learned from 30 instructors.
·      Which adds up to a total of 700 hours of instruction.
·      Our comfortable, safe home has been open 1000 hours to our members.
·      25 dedicated volunteers have staffed open hours and helped organize events.
·      Last, but certainly not least, we’ve offered more than 200 literary and arts events to the Cville community, reaching more than 1,000 people.

If I were workshopping this story, I’d expect one of my classmates to tell me that setting the scene is all very well, but I’m halfway down the page and there’s no tension. And she’d be right.

It cost around $145K to pay our instructors and staff and to rent and operate our home, and another $20K or so for the programs we offer the Cville community. Class revenue was around $85K because we aid members for whom tuition is a hardship. Foundation support was around $15K.

Do you feel a little tension? These numbers don’t add up. We raised about $10K from last year’s birthday and Words and Wine, and thanks to two very generous members, we came within $10K of breaking even. But depending on a few large gifts is a risky long-term strategy.

We are one of only three community writing centers in our region. We offer amazing instruction and programs to a membership diverse in interests, backgrounds, and means. And we want to keep on doing that.

One of the things that makes Charlottesville a wonderful place is the number and diversity of cultural organizations, all worthy, and all competing for contributions. Which means we have to look within ourselves for the support to remain viable. What that means is we need to ask those members who appreciate what we are, and who have the means, to raise the bar.

We appreciate every gift, and if $50 is a meaningful gift to a member, it’s a meaningful gift to WriterHouse. But if we can’t close our budget gap with $500, $1000, and $2000 gifts, we will not remain viable.

My story being a work in progress, I don’t know how it comes out.

Here’s something I do know. When someone asked me for a gift that was doable but a stretch, I had to think about it. Didn’t matter if the greatest salesperson in the world was asking, they didn’t persuade me. I had to persuade myself.

And, when I did, I got more pleasure from that gift than from anything else I might have done with that money.”