Dear Friends and Supporters of Casa Libre,
We write with news to share. Casa Libre, along with so many more arts organizations in Arizona and the country, is looking forward to some major transitions – some to move our labor and our output into healthier and happier balances with each other, and others in order to merely remain afloat. As you know, arts funding is always a challenge, but with the news that our current governor has swept the entire state budget of arts funding, we have to consolidate our resources, dig in our heels, and plan for the future.
For eleven years now, we have served the Tucson literary community and beyond, and we look forward to continuing to do so. But, entering our twelfth year, we need to switch to a more sustainable model. Casa Libre’s small staff has never made a living wage; the majority of our people-power has come from committed volunteers, and this year has been particularly financially difficult. You will see some big changes ahead at Casa Libre—some of them will be difficult and others are very exciting. Here is the rundown of what to expect:
Casa Libre is moving out of its current venue space. We have loved our little library; its intimacy and charm have been central to the work we’ve done, and we have prided ourselves on being a home, a house, a site, to you all. However, the intimate and charming room is also expensive. In fact, it costs over a third of our budget to maintain the space. Instead of continuing to carry this expense each month, we are going to hold readings in the back courtyard areas behind the library, which will be donated to Casa Libre for our use, thus costing us nothing. If you attended our Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry Symposium a few years back, Jill Lorenzini’s HeatWave event last summer, and/or Elizabeth Frankie Rollins’s The Sin Eater and Other Stories book release event in 2013, you know how magical this area of the property can be. The site is shifting; the warmth and welcoming homebase (and even the address) is not. We are excited to shift back a few yards—and to find the best ways to house arts events here.
Casa Libre will no longer be running its regular reading or workshop series. Although we are still committed to helping Edge, Lamplight, WIP, Stjukshon, Trickhouse Live, and other programs find new homes, and we absolutely support the work they do, it has become too taxing on our financial resources and personnel to host frequent programming without compensation to our staff, series curators, and readers. We want to pay people for the art they make. Unless citizens of this city, state, and country decide that it is worth it to pay people for the art they make, curate, and facilitate, venues such as ours will continue to shrink and close.
The last bit of hard (but ultimately exciting!) news is that TC Tolbert will be resigning as Casa Libre’s assistant director as of June 30th. Don’t worry, you will still see TC around Tucson, and he is still committed to volunteering his time at Casa Libre. We will miss his leadership at Casa Libre, but we also can’t wait to read what he writes and builds and has to share with the world both from within and beyond the red door.
So what else will we be doing?
Casa Libre will continue to fulfill its mission and vision:
Mission: The mission of Casa Libre en la Solana is to cultivate and enrich a vibrant community of writers and artists through the invention, presentation, and appreciation of creative work.In accordance with this mission Casa Libre will: Provide a venue for classes, residencies, readings and workshops; Provide opportunities to artists by offering the resources and support they need to make their artistic dreams a reality; Offer space for other community events related to arts and letters.
Vision: Because we believe expression is a vital part of nourishing the human spirit, Casa Libre inspires writers and artists to take risks and manifest their artistic dreams.
Casa Libre is deepening our commitment to serving underserved communities. This has been our primary focus since our inception. You will see a tightening shift of focus in our programming, so that we very directly serve LGBTQI writers, female-identified writers, writers of color, and emerging writers. This is what we’ve always been good at, and what the community has celebrated most about our organization. Thanks to a generous grant from the The LGBT&S Alliance Fund, we will start a program called “Queer Female Writers Influencing Modern Literature” in the fall. This program will infuse a series of queer and transgender female-identified writers into our readings and workshops.
Casa Libre will continue to hold a monthly reading series featuring the underserved groups listed above. We will also hold several workshops a year at an offsite location that will be affiliated with this reading series. We haven’t named it yet, but have considered dubbing it “Weather Permitting” (thanks, Brian Blanchfield, for the suggestion!).
We will also be fundraising for a future on-site residency program. Casa Libre’s staff and board have been working behind the scenes to figure out a way to reinstate the residency program that was integral to our original model. It is our intention to revamp the model and bring back this essential part of our programming, which was highly successful for 5 years. You’ll hear more about this soon.
Casa Libre will also host occasional events for local writers who would like to rent the middle courtyards to host their reading, book release event, or other arts and letters based programming. if you're interested in learning more about this possibility/opportunity, or renting this space, please contact email@example.com.
Casa Libre has more change and growth ahead. During the month of July and (our annually scheduled closure in August), we will be focused on reformatting our business model, cinching our budget, tightening our programming, and communicating to you what is to come. Look for the new face of Casa Libre in the fall but with the same commitment to community, inclusion, and literary celebration.
Thank you for your continued support of what we do here; we need your minds and hearts and presence as much as ever. We look forward to another 11+ years serving the Tucson literary community and beyond.
Executive Director and Founder
Casa Libre en la Solana
Read an archive of past newsletters here
Please watch this 5 minute video celebrating the first 10 years of Casa Libre's programming and community:
Casa Libre- 10 years and counting on Vimeo.
What's the Word?
Make a secure online donation to Casa Libre through PayPal
5/30 The Nuts and Bolts of Freelancing Workshop
a writing workshop w/ Heather Severson and Wynne Brown
6/17 Edge Reading
w/Mary H. Ber, Bob Byars, & Ela Harrison
Casa Libre will be closed from July 18, 2015 through the month of August. We'll be back in September with monthly programming. Please bear with us during our restructuring!