Letter from Jocelyn Hale, Reporting on FY14 (Sep 1, 2013–Aug 31, 2014)
The Loft’s 2014 fiscal year (September 1, 2013–August 31, 2014) marked our 39th year of creating a vibrant community of readers and writers. We are proud to have closed the year with a slight surplus while continuing to evaluate and improve outcomes of our core programs—creative writing classes for all ages and skill levels, awards and mentorships, resources, and readings and literary events.
FY14 was alive with many highlights including the Loft’s managing of Poetry Out Loud for the state of Minnesota. This national competition encourages high school students to memorize and recite poetry in front of an audience, and gives teens a meaningful introduction to the world of poetry and literature. Anyone who witnessed the Minnesota winner, Faiza Mohamed Abubakar will not soon forget her performance.
Creative Writing Classes and Services
In FY14, the Loft provided over 420 writing classes and workshops which served approximately 4,000 students (from beginning memoirists to published poets) on-site, off-site, and online. The online program continued to grow, serving nearly 600 writers from the Twin Cities metro, all over the state, and from across the nation and world.
In response to a drumbeat of requests in our annual constituent survey, the Loft launched a new Manuscript Critique and Coaching service to give writers of all levels the opportunity to get feedback and critique on manuscripts and works-in-process. We have a talented group of writing coaches and continue to add to the pool.
Grants and Awards
The winners of the coveted McKnight Artist Fellowships for Writers in Poetry/Spoken Word Poetry and Children’s Literature/Younger Children were selected by judges Nikky Finney and Jordan Brown. Winners announced in April 2014 included Sierra DeMulder, Danez Smith, Sun Yung Shin, Carolyn Williams-Noren, and Molly Beth Griffin. We are grateful to the McKnight Foundation for supporting this award.
The Loft Mentor Series 2014 winners were selected from 197 entries. We received 61 entries in nonfiction; 52 poetry applications; and 75 fiction submissions. Mark Anthony Rolo, Jerald Walker, Peter Campion, Cathy Park Hong, Christopher Castellani, and Mary Francois Rockcastle served as mentors. The Loft's 2014 Minnesota Emerging Writers' Grant received 244 applications from all over Minnesota. The Loft Mentor Series and the Minnesota Emerging Writers’ Grant programs are partially funded by the Jerome Foundation. Happy 50th Birthday Jerome Foundation!
The Loft continued its partnership with the Surdna foundation to offer Spoken Word Immersion Fellowships for spoken word artists of color and indigenous artists. The FY14 fellows were announced in January 2014: Nimo Farah (Minneapolis), Nikki Patin (Chicago), and Christy Namee Eriksen (Juneau).
Leveraging partnerships to benefit the community has been a way of life for the Loft since 1975. We were thrilled to collaborate with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts during their “Sacred” show with a writing contest, and an evening interactive writing activities and readings. The culminating events for Sacred has a magical quality—with a storm raging outside and writers of all ages sharing their work.
With collaboration from Hennepin County Libraries, In FY14 we offered 53 free First Pages sessions and through a collaboration with Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), we expanded the 90-minute writing labs to the seven-county metro area serving hundreds of writers in the first year. Class offerings include Writing Your Life, A Kid’s Guide to Writing Short Stories, and Senior Moments: Starting Your Writing Project at 55+.
Readings and Events
In FY14, the Loft presented 73 readings and literary events such as our signature spoken word series, EQ. Our goal is to champion both emerging artists, and seasoned literary veterans and to inspire a passion for literature. Through collaborations with local literary publishers, Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions, and Coffee House Press we promoted the latest work of leading Minnesota authors including Peter Geye, Dobby Gibson, and Leslie Adrienne Miller. Authors Luis Rodriguez, David Mura, Janet Rogers, PC Munoz, Daniel Jones, and Emily Johnson all participated in special events throughout the year. Overall, our events featured over 350 artists and served over 13,000 audience members of all ages.
Talking Volumes continues to be a strong draw for Twin Cities literature lovers who flock to The Fitzgerald Theater to hear MPR’s Kerri Miller’s live interviews with the authors. The season featured Edwidge Danticat, Margaret Atwood, Rick Riordan, Pat Conroy, and Michael Connelly. Talking Volumes is a partnership of MPR and the Star Tribune in collaboration with the Loft.
The Loft is proud of giving established writers the chance to earn some money. Artists' honoraria as well as grants and awards made up approximately 35% of the Loft's overall expenses in the past year, with more than $650,000 paid to writers. Earning opportunities for writers include teaching classes, offering manuscript critique services, presenting at conferences, serving as adjudicators for contests, performing in special events, and participating in the Loft’s award programs.
Looking forward to FY15—the Loft turns 40!
The Loft enters into 2015 with an extraordinarily talented team of staff, board, and teaching artists. In FY15 we will welcome the national field to the Twin Cities for AWP’s national conference in April.
Finally, I announced to the board of directors in January 2015 that I will step down as executive director in August. The Loft has launched a national search for my replacement and we hope to introduce our new leader to the community during our 40th anniversary celebration (40 for 40) which will include 40 events in 40 hours to celebrate 40 years. Save the dates – August 21–22, 2015.
Fighting for your writes,
Audited Financials and 990 Forms
All tax exempt charitable organizations with an annual income of $750,000 or higher are required to file Form 990 with the IRS and make it available for public inspection. Please contact the Loft with any additional questions about our Form 990 filings.