(School) Year-End Review

Where Are We?

By B.J. Hollars

As another academic year winds down—dorms turning to ghost towns, school hallways buffed and shined and silenced—I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few of the Guild’s major accomplishments since its founding in February 2016; specifically, related to our economic and cultural impact in the Chippewa Valley and beyond. We have much to be proud of, and we have you to thank!

Economically speaking, by summer’s end the CVWG will have provided our region with approximately $33,000 in economic impact, the result of hosting a total of 12 residencies, 11 of which were held (or will be held) at Cirenaica, as well as one residency which took place at The Ox Bow Hotel last February. Now, to be clear, this does not mean our coffers are full.  Far from it!  Rather, this is the amount of money that has cycled through our community as a result of our efforts to bring high-impact writing opportunities to the community. Simply put, what began as a humble organization has now become a significant contributor to our local economy, and we couldn’t be prouder. 

Culturally speaking, the CVWG continues to provide an array of high-impact opportunities throughout the region. One way in which we fulfill this mission is through our craft talk series. Currently we’ve hosted 13 craft talks—all of which are free and open to the public. These talks have featured an array of writers and editors, from Michael Perry, Nickolas Butler and Allyson Loomis, to literary agent Erik Hane, Barstow and Grand editor Eric Rasmussen, and Julian Emerson, Dan Lyksett and Eric Lindquist from The Leader-Telegram, among many others. Next September we’re pleased to host Holly Harden, a former writer for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion. In addition to these regular events, we’ve also hosted several new initiatives, including two “Poetry & Popcorn” events in partnership with Chippewa Valley Technical College, a “Joy to the Word” holiday reading for the community, as well as a live production of War of the Worlds which—thanks to UW-Eau Claire Foundation support—was later broadcast on Blugold Radio. I’m thrilled to announce that as a result of this latter partnership, the Eau Claire Community Foundation has generously awarded Blugold Radio and the CVWG a grant to allow us future collaborations as well.

Though there’s much to be excited about, perhaps our most notable contribution over the past year is the creation of a new publication, Barstow & Grand, which seeks to provide additional publication and professionalization opportunities for writers in our region. Writer and Memorial High School English teacher Eric Rasmussen serves as editor-in-chief, overseeing a team of 9 editors, all of whom bring a unique skillset and perspective to the editorial process. We’re grateful for the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council’s generosity in funding our inaugural issue, and we’re excited to share it with you next October.

In closing, a humble thank you for all you do to support the Guild.  Please take a moment to click here and check out our amazing sponsors, who have been vital in our organization’s success.  Additionally, to help our community grow, feel free to make a donation in the amount that’s right for you by clicking here.  If we all give a little, no one has to give a lot.

And with that, our newsletter signs off for the summer. Of course, we encourage you to check our website and social media platforms regularly to stay current on exciting opportunities taking place all summer long!

Most important of all, we wish you a wonderful summer of words.  Revel in them, relish them, and write them.

Be inspired.  Inspire others.