Word On The Street Festival Lethbridge

The Cause

Word On The Street (WOTS) is a national festival that began in 1990 and now includes five Canadian cities, with Lethbridge joining in 2011. The festival sees over 3000 attendees and celebrates literacy and the written word, with readings by Canadian authors, poets, storytellers; spoken word performances; workshops to build interest in writing and the importance of literacy. The Lethbridge Public Library’s primary mission in hosting this event is to broaden our community engagement, make the library a top choice for public events and to foster a sense of ownership from the community by creating an environment that allows for the expression of creativity and the promotion of the arts.

The WOTS Festival Lethbridge is a community building initiative of the Lethbridge Public Library. As we move into our sixth year, we believe that the festival has become a gathering place for the community, a venue for learning and an outlet for creativity. By bringing together the community with literacy, literature and art, we create opportunities for new ideas, new experiences, and an increased understanding of one another. Attendees at author talks not only learn about a new author, but also what the author writes about and why, whether that be a culture they know little of, or a topic that sparks their interest to learn more. Children learn from the story tellers new folk stories, but also about the message in that story, be it the importance of environmentalism or the value of understanding.

Who Will it Benefit?

With the slogan “Celebrating Reading, Advocating Literacy”, our festival provides programming to appeal to attendees of all ages. Approximately 25 author presenters will appear on one of four stages, and include children’s story tellers, spoken word poets, and award winning Canadian authors. We also offer writing workshops, with this year’s schedule including graphic novels/cartooning for all ages, a song writing workshop, information about self-publishing, and poetry, all presented by local experts. If WOTS is selected as a successful applicant, the funds we receive will specifically help us to improve and promote the literacy programming and activities we offer to children and families. We believe that by encouraging a love of reading and participating in the arts in children, we help to improve our community with long term impacts, such as, enhanced literacy skills, support for increased educational success, and overall, an improved standard of living for the entire community.

Festival performers and exhibitors also benefit from the exposure this festival is able to provide. Local and provincial emerging authors are able to present their work to new readers who may not have been exposed to the writer before. The literacy and other non-profit groups that take part in the Marketplace are able to increase awareness of their products and services and awareness within the community. In turn, festival attendees learn about local services and artists they may not have been aware of before and that they are able to benefit from past the festival. Our family zone provides opportunities for families to take part in activities together and bond as families.