LitFest Supporters Fundraise and Friendraise, as They Look Forward to Next “Edition”

Lexie Williamson, left, Paddy Hurley and Patricia FerberTom Coston, left, and Lisa BeebeJervey Tervalon holds his daughter Colette. Information about the history of Pasadena is on display during LitFest Pasadena a Holiday kickoff event.William and Mary Lea Carroll pose for a picture in front of their 1895 Victorian Craftsman transition house in Pasadena.Molly and Ryan Smernoff drink Mexican hot chocolate during Litfest.Guests mingle during LitFest Pasadena a Holiday kickoff event.A Victorian Craftsman transition home built by David Mcpherson built in 1895, part of the Pasadena historical society.

By ANDY VITALICIO | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

6:06 am | December 4, 2018


Members of the Light Bringer Project, the Pasadena-based nonprofit arts organization, and Literature for Life, its literary journal and educational program, met Sunday at the home of Bill and Mary Lea Carroll on Topeka Street in Pasadena for the LitFest Pasadena Holiday Kickoff Party, along with friends, family, authors and artists who have been part of the annual literary festival that happens in the City in the spring.

The kickoff party also serves as a fundraiser, as well as a “friend-raiser,” as Tom Coston, President of the Light Bringer Project, calls it. It is also where the organizations involved in LitFest Pasadena plan the more important details of the festival.

“We wanted to do two things. We had to raise some money as matching funds for grants and the expense to cover the cost of the expenses for the festival in May, but we also wanted to introduce some writers to folks and people who had moderated panels last year and tell people that we’d like everybody to get involved,” Coston said. “When we do the festival, pick the authors and pick them ourselves, we don’t do it in that way. We actually outreach and then ask people in their own communities to then reach out to people that they know that might want to hold panels, might be experts in certain subjects centered around books.”

The kickoff party was a public event, with those attending encouraged to donate $20 to help cover the costs for LitFest for the coming year.

LitFest Pasadena, the eighth annual edition, will be held on May 18 and 19, 2019 in the historic Pasadena Playhouse District, featuring dozens of readings, panels and literary performances with over 150 authors. The festival is offered free to the public, with anchor locations at Pasadena Playhouse and Vroman’s Bookstore, and also encouraging businesses, restaurants, and coffee houses and galleries in the area to participate.

Coston said next year’s LitFest Pasadena will be an expanded event, with over 30 panels, workshops, and interactive activities. He indicated they may also plan to add an activity that’s related to e-book publishing and other developing utility trends for writers and art producers.

Patty Hurley, the Light Bringer Project’s Managing Director, said next year’s expanded event will include offerings to children and youth workers.

“We’ve got a whole separate committee for that, and we’re also incorporating more artists who illustrate books because that has come up so much in conversation and how actually writers and artists come together and how does that happen,” Hurley said. “It’s a really interesting topic and there’s quite a lot of artists and authors working together right now.”

The event will also have a big science fiction thrust, with Sci-Fest Los Angeles coming in as one of the sponsors, Hurley added. Sci-Fest LA is providing two competitions: the Tomorrow Prize, for high school-aged students in Los Angeles, and the Roswell Award, a global competition for adults.

The organizers say next year’s LitFest Pasadena will be dedicated to the memory of Jonathan Gold, who played a significant role in the Los Angeles writers’ community. Gold was part of each of the LitFest Pasadena event up to the most recent last May. Gold was a Los Angeles Times restaurant critic who became the first journalist to win the Pulitzer Prize for food criticism. He passed away in July after battling with pancreatic cancer. He was 57.

“He was in every single festival as a presenter and also an organizer behind the scenes,” Hurley said. “His daughter is actually one of the committee members, and she and his wife are involved in helping spread the good memories of Jonathan at our event.”

LitFest Pasadena, a writer-driven event, also celebrates the diversity of people, genres and thought, offers books for sale, and this year includes new features, like KidsFest at LitFest, special programming designed just for children and youth.

Celebrity guests will also be joining to deliver dramatic readings for some of the literary work featured in the festival and will announce the finalists for some of the Light Bringer Project’s writing competitions, including the science fiction writing contests.

Starting last year, the organizers put the exhibits and the art events out on the streets of the Pasadena Playhouse District instead of inside the venues that are taking part.

“We’re going to have a lot of stuff out there in the streets around the venues which are predominantly going to be the Pasadena Playhouse,” Coston said. “We’re going to do some stuff in the sidewalks and the plazas, too, and some more kind of street action literary art stuff and street poets and things like that. And we’re going to probably ‘funky-fy’ a little bit this year, try to get like a little bit of always going for the younger audience; you always wanted to get them there and get the new voices in.”

In fact, LitFest Pasadena 2019 will have a lot more focus on young writers and artists, especially about providing them enough opportunities for arts education and exposure of their literary work, Coston said.

“It’s great for Pasadena, you know, because it’s something new I think. It’s a destination for the arts,” he said. “But really, we haven’t been very good at supporting the literary arts and as well we wanted to bring a new generation of readers and writers that I just left at school. I’m actually in Los Angeles inner-city public schools where we do our Literature for Life program which will also be featured and spotlighted at LitFest Pasadena. It’s about how basically we’re working with young people, to read those stories, write their own, encouraging them to get involved. So there’ll be a heavy emphasis on youth this year.”

Aside from the Light Bringer Project and Literature for Life, both of which are dedicated to building community through the power of art and education, LitFest Pasadena also is supported by the City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Playhouse District, as well as a good number of community sponsors.
For more information, visit the festival website, www.litfestpasadena.org.