Various hip-hop acts perform at the final assembly of last year’s All Write festival on Friday, March 8. Former senior filmmaker Sam Hayden accepts the Screen Write award for the short film “Reach.” Former seniors mix and play music during the The Last Word Awards Finale & Celebration featuring Owen Ragland and Christian Ragain. Photos by Lindsey Bennett.
All Write will be shortened to three days, running March 4-6 of 2020. This is two days fewer than the typical five-day run of the festival.
The scheduling change was finalized last spring, due to a mix of both lack of funding and discipline issues within the festival. All Write is completely self-funded and relies on money from fundraisers, donations, merchandise sales and occasional grants.
English teacher Katie Guymon, one of the members of the festival’s organizing committee, said, “Very practically, it’s money, and even if we had that money, then after that it’s buy-in.”
Guymon added, “We had people cutting class to go, or leaving the auditorium when they should be in the auditorium. We’ve tried to manage all that as best we can, but we are only three people.”
English teacher Steve Leftridge, another member of the festival’s organizing committee, said, “We have a sister program at Pattonville that also runs a three-day festival, so that was kind of the original design: a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday festival.”
Guymon said, “I think it’s a matter of not continuing to replenish the account every year. We don’t have guaranteed sources of funding. Sometimes we get a grant, sometimes we get a donation, but generally speaking we are kind of scrapping it all together every year and it’s just very time consuming.”
As far as how students and community members can help, Guymon said, “Donations are welcome; they are tax deductible. I can give you a go-fund-me link. $25, $50 means an awful lot to what we are trying to do.”
“We are looking for ways of raising that money right now. We would love to have this thing be an annually funded thing, so we didn’t have to worry about fundraising, and starting over with fundraising every year. We are exploring those options right now,” Leftridge said.
“I think we have a really good case that this is providing a sort of renaissance and explosion of artistic expression among our students every year, and just the ideas and the celebration of writing and reading that comes up in this festival. I think there are people out there who want to see us keep this going, and we are looking for them. We have our interns that are actively looking at fundraising options and finding donors right now,” Leftridge said.
As for as changes this may bring to the festival, Leftridge said, “We are going to keep it all up. It’s just gonna feel a little more condensed than it was maybe last year.”
“Obviously, there will probably be fewer guests overall, although we do have three different spaces, with the Black Box,” Leftridge said.
He added, “The secondary stage in the library, which last year we called the Satellite Stage, only had an assembly in it maybe half the time… we could pack that six hours a day, and have six hours a day in the auditorium, and still have just about as many guests as we had overall last year.”
Leftridge said, “The festival is not in danger of going away, and it’s not in trouble.”
This is Maeve Taylor’s second year on the Echo as the podcast editor, after making several contributions to the Echo while taking journalism her freshman year.