Hosting house concert programs to nearly 5,000 guests since 2006, Jerry and Pam Libstaff have spent close to $100,000 to bring national and international talent to the Key Peninsula. As they move into the 2016 concert season, they have decided to host an online fundraiser to continue their support of the literary arts.
Watermark Writers is a nonprofit with a mission to provide a platform for writers, songwriters and artists.
“We offer a weekly writers’ workshop, monthly author readings at two local venues where local writers can meet well known authors and share their own work with the public,” Libstaff said.
A major focus of the organization is to host as many as a dozen concerts a year presenting writers, singers and artists. Among the performers were Cheryl Wheeler, John Gorka, Antje Duvekot, David Wilcox, Tom Kimmel and Ari Hest. The concerts include food and beverages, and the performers receive a fee.
“Unlike many organizations who request percentages of sales and part of the take, Watermark receives no income from our programs. We support the arts. Our cost for these events approaches $10,000 per year,” Libstaff said. “This coming year, we will again present the best experiences we can offer for our community and help provide income for our artists.We would like your help this time around.”
Singer/songwriter Larry Murante said, “Jerry and Pam Libstaff run one of the best house concert series in the country. The performer faces an audience who have not only an unobstructed, upclose and personal view of the talent in front of them, but an astounding view of the Salish Sea and the Olympic Mountains over the artist’s shoulder.”
Blend shop keeper Don Swensen said the Watermark Writers’ “Words and Wine” series offers a unique platform for local writers to share their work.
“The venue provides a sociable atmosphere where these writers and, occasionally, members of the audience,feel comfortable sharing their work, enjoying the company of others and sometimes even creating new works of ‘on the spot’ improvisation,” he said. “Jerry’s excellent work as emcee helps to bring all these factors together, making each ‘Words and Wine’ event an unforgettable evening, celebrating and highlighting the great pool of local talent here on the Key Peninsula.”
Newly published author Linda Whaley said the writers group that meets Wednesdays has “emboldened” her to write her first novel, “Those Before Never Leave.”
“[The group] introduced me to some of the most creative writers and poets I have ever met,” she said.
The Muse at Morso, a program Libstaff created in collaboration with Morso Wine Bar owner Steve Lynn, has become a favorite Gig Harbor venue for authors. For more than two years, Morso opens up its gallery every second Thursday of the month to host well-known authors and poets from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
“These acclaimed, published writers come to read and share their work then stay to listen as locals read at an open mic,” Lynn said. “Jerry has been great to partner with, as his depth of knowledge and commitment are unsurpassed. He has been that driving literary influence for the Muse.”
Storyteller Carolyn Wiley said The Muse at Morsois one of the highlights of her month.
“It is a time to enjoy the writing of some of the most talented poets/authors in the state, and share my own work, with a live audience,”she said.
The online fundraiser has levels of giving and includes incentives that range from signed books by local authors to vinyl albums from the ‘50s to the ‘70s.
“Of course, if you’d like, you can simply donate to our cause. Any amount will be appreciated and your donations may be tax deductible,” Libstaff said. “We so look forward to continuing our programs and we thank you in advance for helping us do so.”
To donate, go to generosity.com/community-fundraising/watermark-writers-words-and-music. For more about the upcoming concerts, go to watermarkwriters.com/.