I’ve contemplated doing a youth writing workshop sometime over the summer for a while now.
This week, This year, I decided to just go for it. I knew that cost would be an issue for some of the young people who could most benefit from a programme like this and I knew that I couldn’t do it for free; no, I had to cover my time somehow. So to see if it would even be possible, I reached out to prospective corporate partners. I am happy to report that less than a week after that partnership letter went out, I ’ve had commitments to cover at least one young writer for a week from the first of a growing list of partners:
Anonymous for now – I’m keeping this man’s name confidential at his request; but I wish I could shout it from Mount Obama because *putting on my Wadadli Pen coordinator hat* he gives generously and regularly and preferably anonymously which just reinforces that he’s not all hey look at me with his patronage and that’s the kind of patron that’s a pleasure to work with *takes off my Wadadli Pen coordinator hat* As this is not a Wadadli Pen project but a business partnership, I triply appreciate him stepping up.
Brenda Lee Browne (Familiar to readers of my blogs as the chief Wadadli Pen judge for the past few years and already committed to sponsor two Wadadli Pen finalists for her Just Write Writers Retreat later this year, she nonetheless stepped up and offered to cover a young person for my summer programme as well. We need more like her, that’s all I can say. Well, that and thanks.)
Caribbean Water Treatment (Have to single them out as well, as they were the first to respond – less than 24 hours after the letter had gone out – giving me hope that this thing might actually happen)
I must also mention the St. John’s Cooperative Credit Union which isn’t sponsoring a youth but has offered to contribute much needed writing supplies to the project and the Best of Books which is contributing furniture.
I’m admittedly surprised at the strong early response because having solicited on behalf of my non profit youth writing programme the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize since 2004, I know first hand that seeking patronage can be like pushing water uphill. It’s not easy.
This is not a voluntary venture, as stated, so I anticipated it’d be even more difficult to get businesses to commit. I also know well the deafening silence that has followed some of the business proposals I’ve sent out as a freelance writer and editor over the years; as a freelancer you vacillate between rejection and acceptance but no one ever mentions the much more dreaded deafening silence or the non response (not even an acknowledgement). But something about this particular pitch, a professional partnership to cover my fee and incidentals for the participation of one young person for the week of the programme appealed to them… and I appreciate that.
“Your proposed programme sounds quite interesting and I am sure will be of great benefit to our young people.” (Sanhall)
“This is a great idea Joanne. We would be willing to support one child for the week…” (CWT)
“We wish you every success in this very useful endeavour.” (Paperclips)
“Thanks for sending me the information on your program. I believe that it has great potential.” (Townhouse)
I like the way they’re thinking about this and will do my best to deliver.
If you’re keeping count that’s
five six seven young people covered so far for the week (I’ll update as more commitments come in – yes I’m feeling optimistic about it now). Meanwhile, I’ve got to get planning – criteria for selection for those sponsored spots (DONE), programming a week of fun but instructive literary and arts related activities (IN PROGRESS), securing a venue (IN PROGRESS), promoting to attract participation and ensure that these corporate partners get their mileage (IN PROGRESS) …and more (including snagging more corporate partners) ALSO IN PROGRESS – IDEALLY THREE MORE FOR AN EVEN 10. I feel energized by the challenge though; it feels good to be making something happen, something that’s at once a business venture for me and yet designed to create a positive impact among young Creatives in Antigua and Barbuda. It feels like a strong expansion of all that I do professionally and voluntarily. Besides, it beats the alternative, i.e. waiting for things to happen.
May 9 25th June 1st June 13th 2013.