Vancouver Poetry House has a long history of fully funding all team and representation events. This was never a rule, but it has come to be expected. Because funding is restricted, the organization has suffered quite acutely. Staff have been underpaid and there has been too much dependence placed on a consistent pool of volunteers. This amounts to much of the critical nonperformance-based work relying on human generosity and the exploitation of their unpaid labour.
New allocation decisions have had to be made. In order to better support teams and events in the future, VPH must develop its capacity to plan and serve. Part of that is paying staff more reasonably. Part of capacity building is seen in the recent spate of policy and new initiatives.
To support VPH capacity development, we have instituted a funding cycle whereby teams and representation gigs will be funded in a three-year cycle. In 2019, our youth have received $7000 of funding to go to Voices of Today. In 2020 the VanSlam team will receive a similar funding package. In 2021 funding will go to a representational event. The cycle will then repeat.
This funding is made possible through private funders. No public funds will be utilized for competition purposes. To utilize earned revenue from our programs puts those programs at risk. Hence, this funding initiative is only possible if private source fundraising is successful. Funding cannot be guaranteed, although the staff and board make every effort to make it so.
Tied to this new allocation initiative is an expectation to fundraise by team members and by those who wish to represent VPH. The youth team is currently doing that, and will continue to do so in the coming years. A fund will be gathered with those efforts, and be dispersed to fund the next trip to Voices of Today. If successful, they will be able to go in 2020 and 2021. Vancouver Poetry House will do everything it can to help support fundraising efforts. The same will be true for the VanSlam team and for any future representation events.
We recognize that VPH’s history of funding teams and individuals to compete elsewhere, combined with a lack of clear communication with the community on this particular issue until now, has resulted in a lack of clarity among competing poets. We hope in future to improve our lines of communication with community members, and welcome feedback on how to better engage with the community in ways that are accessible to them.