Now that the news about Wordstock is out in the world there are, understandably, a lot of questions. I’m writing to share what we have decided so far and invite you to help us shape the festival in the coming months.
As previously announced, we will re-launch the festival next fall, on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at the Portland Art Museum. There will not be a festival this spring at PSU. Literary Arts has a long history of partnering with PSU, and we have a deep respect and admiration for their important role in our community. In the end, however, we did not feel that the facilities at PSU, as amazing as they are, were quite right for the festival.
Over the course of the past few months, as we worked with the Board of Wordstock and discussed this opportunity with other partners, we came to the conclusion that the fall was the right time for the festival because this is when most books are published and sold. The choice of November 7 keeps us clear of other national festivals and gives us an opportunity to encourage festival attendees to begin their holiday book buying.
The Museum’s south-facing courtyard.
The Mark Building, located in the Museum’s north wing.
(Photograph courtesy of Hoffman Construction.)
We are very excited about the move to the Portland Art Museum, which is a world-class organization. Their campus offers us a single, efficient facility that comes with important infrastructure like ticketing, ballrooms, and other amenities. Having such a beautiful campus filled with historic and contemporary art seems to us the ideal setting to celebrate books and authors. To our knowledge, mounting a major book festival inside of an art museum is nationally unique. We are very grateful to the Portland Art Museum for showing their support by throwing open their doors to readers and writers of all ages.
Aesthetics and architecture aside, the Portland Art Museum also offers some features we feel are crucial. For example, we will be able to invite the local food and beverage community as never before. The museum has its own low-cost ticketing system. The museum has two large ballrooms—the Kridel Grand Ballroom and the Fred & Suzanne Fields Ballroom (a.k.a. the Sunken Ballroom)—as well as the Whitsell Auditorium. It also has many smaller conference rooms and thousands of square feet of gallery space. Additionally, we have the option to work in any of Portland’5’s venues, which are just across the street. The Park Blocks, too, have a lot to offer in terms of food, venues, and bars, where we hope there will be many off-site events.
To answer some very specific questions: there will absolutely be a big book fair, large scale events, and many smaller panels, on-stage conversations, and readings.
This leads me to answer another question: Yes, Wordstock will be a huge, robust event that will essentially collapse two days of programming into one long and amazing day, with kick-off and closing events surrounding it. It will feature our local writing community prominently while also having an impressive list of authors from all across the country. One of the best examples of a highly successful and well-attended one-day festival is the Brooklyn Book Festival.
Over the course of the next several months, we will be reaching out to all the partners of Wordstock to build on previous collaborations. We will also be building new partnerships and looking for new ways to collaborate with the incredible talent here in Oregon and across the county. These types of collaborations are something that Literary Arts thrives on, having 87 organizational partners last year alone.
We are also excited about the volunteer aspect of the festival. We can’t wait to begin learning from all of the amazing volunteers associated with past festivals. This tradition is vital to the festival, and we look forward to continuing it.
Some folks have asked about student attendance at the 2015 festival. Both Literary Arts and the Portland Art Museum have strong educational programs, and this work is deeply important to our missions. Admission at Workstock will align with the Portland Art Museum’s practice of granting free admission to all who are 17 and younger.
To our valued vendors: We look forward to announcing the availability of tables and booths and can’t wait to talk to you about this, most likely at the beginning of the New Year.
For now, we are focused on hiring a Festival Manager and encourage you to share this post with anyone who might be interested.
We are thrilled to welcome the Wordstock community to Literary Arts. We look forward to working with you and learning from you. For those of you who don’t know us well, I hope you will explore our website and perhaps take a look at this short video, which gives an overview of our 30-year history here in Oregon.
There are no doubt many other questions, and we will do our best to answer them. There are many aspects of the festival that have yet to be determined, so please send us your ideas. Over the course of the next six months, we will be making more and more of the details about the re-launched festival clear and will communicate them to you as soon as possible.
I would like to close by saying thank you to the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation, the Meyer Memorial Trust, and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, who have helped us take on this exciting project. A huge thank you to the Portland Art Museum, Powell’s Books, and the Multnomah County Library as well for their indispensable support.
All the best,