I’m hitting that point…

I'm hitting that point in the festival planning where I start to stress about money. We have 82 folks pre-registered at this point, which is great in terms of attendance (we have a capacity of 200), but not yet great in terms of ticket sales (since quite a few of those are panelists, volunteers, or students who get in free). About $1100 in ticket sales, which, plus the generous Bavikatte Foundation sponsorship, is enough to cover (barely) our expenses so far. But still doesn't allow money for printing program books, or hosting a reception or two, or putting down the deposit on the private Guest of Honor brunch.

This point comes every time you plan a festival -- the point at which you have to take a leap of faith, and trust in your publicity, and believe in people's tremendous ability to put things off to the last minute. Where you just trust that the registrations will come. Rates go up to $50 for a full weekend pass on Monday -- that means that if just another 40 people register, we'll have another $2000, which should be enough to (barely) cover the rest of our expenses. More would let me breathe a sigh of relief. And since we had about 100 attendees in previous years, and we have a super-impressive line-up this year, and we did more publicity than in the past, expecting a minimum of 120 total to register doesn't seem unreasonable. But you may have noticed -- there's a recession going on. And I just don't know how that'll affect ticket sales this time around. It's definitely hit us already -- normally we get about $1500 in sponsorships from various English departments and the like, and this year, the universities just don't have the money to spare. Sad.

This is the one part of festival planning that I hate, frankly. And one reason why I wouldn't love being a Dean, I think. Money stresses me out, and budgeting is not my strong point! I wish we had some spare cash at the moment, so Kevin and I could just cover an extra $1000 or so if needed, and call it a donation to the arts. We've done that in a previous year. But what with the whole trying-to-sell-and-buy-house thing, and the painters and handymen and storage unit and all, we don't have any extra money in our personal budget this year. If Kriti runs into the red, it really is coming out of Kavi's college fund, which is very stressful to think about. :-(

If, by chance, you weren't planning on attending the festival, but have a few extra coins to rub together, and would like to support S. Asian diaspora authors (like me :-), you might consider making a donation to DesiLit? Or becoming a supporting member? Any amount, from $5 to $50 (or more) helps. It helps a lot! And may I note that donations/memberships are tax-deductible?

And of course, if you were planning to register, now would be a good time. An excellent time. :-)

Just a sampling of some of the authors attending this year, along with two theatre performances, dancers, music, and more...it really is an amazing line-up:

  • Romesh Gunesekera: Reef (Booker Prize), The Sandglass, Monkfish Moon (NY Times Notable), Heaven's Edge (NY Times Notable), The Match (newest)
  • Amitava Kumar: Husband of a Fanatic (NY Times Editors' Choice), Bombay-London-New York, Passport Photos, Home Products (shortlisted for Crossword Award)
  • Bapsi Sidhwa: Water (based on Deepa Mehta film), An American Brat, Cracking India (NY Times Notable), The Bride, The Crow Eaters, City of Sin and Splendor (ed.)
  • Shilpa Agarwal: Haunting Bombay, April 2009
  • Ru Freeman: A Disobedient Girl, spring 2009
  • Minal Hajratwala: Leaving India (nonfiction, Houghton Mifflin 2009)
  • Tania James: Atlas of Unknowns (Knopf April 2009)
  • Sheba Karim: Skunk Girl (YA, Farrar,etc., March 2009)
  • V.V. Ganeshananthan, Love Marriage (longlisted Orange Prize, Post Book World's Best of 2008)
  • Kavitha Rajagopalan: Muslims of Metropolis (nonfiction)
  • Rishi Reddi: Karma and Other Stories (Pen Award, 2008)
  • Nitin Deckha: Shopping for Sabzi, fall 2008

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