2018 started with a bang when we received the Downtown Excellence Award from the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership at their annual meeting. Our new home continued to increase our community outreach through 15 to 20+ events each month, in addition to quarterly Book Club Socials, and through partnerships with teens in the community to create the Teen Advisory Council. We were lucky to host such authors as: Roshani Chokshi, Tony DiTerlizzi, Sharon Draper, Charles Frazier, Alan Gratz, John Hart, Patti Callahan Henry, Grace Lin, Sarah McCoy, David Sedaris, and more.
In June 2018, we announced Book Build: Fostering Connections by Building Collections, our three-year initiative with the goal of infusing 25,000 new, culturally relevant books into the libraries of all Winston-Salem/Forsyth County public schools. This $450,000 project received a boost from the Mebane Foundation when they offered a matching challenge grant of $50,000—which was met just after the holiday season.
We celebrated our first year in our new home in July 2018 and received the Reader's Choice Award for Best Bookstore from The Winston-Salem Journal. A big thank you to everyone who helped us win this honor! We became the host of the hugely successful Lecture Night in Camel City free lecture series during the summer—which returned for summer of 2019.
We were honored to win a Community Appearance Award from the City of Winston-Salem called the Count Zinzendorf Award, which recognizes projects that contribute to the attractiveness and enjoyment of downtown Winston-Salem. We are grateful to LMI Builders, Inc. and our architect, Glenn Fulk, for their help in fulfilling our vision.
Our 14th Festival, from September 6-9, featured 46 authors from across the country and our largest footprint yet. We were proud to work with several organizations to expand our outreach to a record 23,000 people, representing 17 states 54 North Carolina counties, and to bring authors like Rick Bragg, Kelly Barnhill, Anne Bogel, Jeffrey Brown, Zinzi Clemmons, Ingrid Riojas Contreras, Maureen Goo, Rebecca Makkai, David Barclay Moore, Carole Boston Weatherford, and more to Winston-Salem. Wild Thing, Clifford, and Chester Raccoon also made appearances!
We hosted a Kids' Keynote event with Dav Pilkey at Reynolds Auditorium with 1800+ attendees, and earlier in the day, bussed 2,350 students to from eight schools to BB&T Ballpark to hear Dav—with each child receiving a signed copy of the latest Dog Man book. During the Festival weekend, we donated 3,200 Festival authors books to school libraries and students and visited with 8,000 students as part of our Authors In Schools program.
We ended the year by being named The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County's 2018 Strategic Vision Partner, which recognizes an organization that "exemplifies The Arts' Council's strategic vision initiatives, which strive to uphold our reputation as a community rooted in arts and innovation."
Moving forward into 2019, we will continue our Book Build campaign and donate 10,000 new and culturally relevant books to 32 schools. It has been wonderful to have groups from all over Winston-Salem volunteer their time to help with this project.
2019 is a big year for us as it marks our 15th Festival of Books and Authors. This banner birthday will be celebrated from September 5-8 with our line-up announced at our Preface Party & Fundraiser on July 25. Please save the dates and plan to join us for our Birthday Celebration on September 6 at The Ramkat. Tickets will go on sale on July 26 on our website for this and other Festival events.
We will continue to host thought-provoking and interesting author and reading events, book clubs, and programming at our home in downtown Winston-Salem. As always, we are here to support (and ignite!) your love of reading and connect you with new books and authors.
Happy reading and best wishes,
Ginger Hendricks, Executive Director