Arts and Entertainment

Matching grant kicks off writers conference fund drive

The Elizabeth George Foundation in Langley has offered the Whidbey Island Writers Conference a challenge: Raise $15,000 by July 1.

A successful match will give the struggling writers conference a good start in its quest to raise the $90,000 that will put the conference back on its feet for 2011 and beyond.

In announcing the grant, best-selling author and Langley resident Elizabeth George said, “I see the Whidbey Island Writers Conference as one of the signature events on the island. Like Djangofest, Choochokam and the Open Studio Tour, the writers conference showcases the artistic nature of both the people here and the place itself. The Elizabeth George Foundation is committed to several areas of interest, among which is the literary arts, and the board of trustees sees the conference as a primary way to support and encourage writing at all levels.”

“We encourage all who feel likewise to join us in supporting the return of a conference that is unique among writing conferences in the nation. I know this well, because I’ve been to a lot of them,” George added.

This year’s Whidbey Island Writers Conference is a victim of the economy. But conference volunteers are dedicated to keeping the conference spirit alive with the support of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, the conference’s parent organization.

“Our conference is rated as one of the best in the nation,” said Susan Wilmoth, secretary of the institute’s board of directors.

“Men and women have come here from every part of the country — thousands of them,” Wilmoth said. “We’ve given them a full-service, three-day conference, at less than $400, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Thanks to the boost Elizabeth George has given us, we’ll be able to continue doing that.”

Writers understand the importance of deadlines.

Dorothy Read, longtime Whidbey Island Writers Association activist and volunteer, likes to compare the fundraising campaign to writing a book.

“Let’s think of these dollars as words. We need 90,000 of them to finish the project. That’s a good length for a book. But we have to submit the first

15,000 by July 1,” Read said.

Spirited volunteers have named the challenge, “Return of the Killer Conference.” Go to www.writeonwhidbey.org to track the fund drive’s growth page by page.

There are many volunteer activities and jobs available to anyone who would like to join the Whidbey Island Writers Association and Whidbey Island Writers Conference teams. E-mail wiwa@whidbey.com or call 331-6714.

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