Festival of the Written Arts gifted with new endowment

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The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts is another step closer to its goal of $1 million in endowment funds thanks to a new contribution via the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation (SCCF). 

Maggie Schell, a board member of the writers’ festival, “decided … to establish the Schell Family Endowment through the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation to honour her mother Anne on her [recent] 100th birthday,” SCCF executive director Wendy Francis announced on the foundation’s website Feb. 4.

Schell, said Francis, “describes her mom as a life-long learner for whom reading was a way of exploring and expanding her view of the world.” 

Endowments like that from the Schell family are capital contributions that the SCCF manages on behalf of organizations like the Festival of the Written Arts. The interest generated by the invested endowments is disbursed each year. 

Although the amount of the Schell endowment was not made public, the festival’s fund now has five endowments, ranging from a few thousand dollars to nearly $200,000, said festival board president Jean Bennett. 

“We have a goal of raising $1 million for endowments. We’re actually at about $825,000 now,” Bennett told Coast Reporter. “In 2017 when we launched [this campaign], we had about $225,000. We’ve done really well in two years.” 

Among other endowments are those in the name of Lynn Pakulak, Gwen Bennett (Jean Bennett’s late mother), and Marie Steele. The Steele endowment supports the festival’s New Voices event, while the Gwen Bennett fund specifically supports children’s literacy initiatives at the festival, Bennett said. The Schell Family Endowment will go towards the festival’s general support, she added. 

In addition to the generosity of donors, a big part of the success of the endowment program is a contribution from a fund managed by the federal government. 

“We benefit from a program under [the Department of] Canadian Heritage that for certain types of arts and cultural organizations allows us to apply for matching funds for whatever [endowment monies] we’ve raised,” Bennett said. “We’ve gotten anywhere from 62 cents to dollar-for-dollar.” 

Planning for this year’s Festival of the Written Arts, which runs Aug. 13 to 16, is well underway. Among the 10 writers already confirmed for events are Bill Richardson, with his new book I Saw Three Ships; Cherie Dimaline, whose book The Marrow Thieves won a 2017 Governor General’s Award, and whose latest novel is Empire of the Wild; and Alix Ohlin, whose novel Dual Citizens was short-listed for the 2019 Giller Prize.

The band The Fugitives will close out the 2020 festival with a Sunday night performance at the Rockwood Pavilion in Sechelt.

© Copyright Coast Reporter


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