Wednesday, July 20, 2011

49 Writers Café at Out North

Does your writing group need a place to meet?  Would you like to share open studio space with other writers?  Have a place to hang out and talk writing over a cup of Raven’s Brew coffee?  Know there’s a place where you can write among friends?

If so, we think you’ll like our proposed 49 Writers Café.

THE BACKSTORY:  We’ve heard loud and clear from our Anchorage friends and fans that you’d like a physical space to gather as writers.  On a survey conducted in March of 2011, you ranked a physical gathering space for writers as one of the most important functions of our Center.  That wasn’t surprising – the little house on L Street that was our first beyond-blog home was a huge rallying point for 49 Writers.  But the house was sold, ending our lease, and without a project like the guesthouse we ran there to pay the rent, options are limited on our growing but still tiny budget.  Our nice shared space at 3rd Avenue won’t last forever, so our Board has already been looking at other options for space.

THE SCHEME: Enter Out North with an offer we like:  a 49 Writers Café in one of their gallery spaces.   Primary uses of space would include open studio (drop in, hang out, think writerly thoughts, pound out that novel or screenplay or essay or poem among friends), literary groups and meetings, and literary events, with an eventual transition to use for instruction.  To pay our share of expenses associated with the café, 49 Writers volunteers would run the already-existing concessions when the café is open. The café would open this fall – maybe even in early September – with our use of the space increasing incrementally from 2011 through 2012.   The café would serve as a model that might be incorporated into what we hope will be a new multi-disciplinary multi-use arts facility in coming years. 

Each term (Fall, Spring, Summer) we’d draft our use and staffing schedule, with the café available for other Out North functions when we’re not scheduled there.   We’d likely reserve Tuesday and Thursday evenings for classes, with Monday and Wednesday evenings for writing groups and meetings.  Friday evenings would be for events.  Weekends would be open studio time, with some meetings and classes on Saturdays, too.  We’d ease into our schedule, subject to volunteers willing to run the concessions for their writing groups or during open studio time.  We’d have the option to expand to weekday use for open studio and writing groups if there’s a need and if there are volunteers ready and willing to make it happen. 

THE DIGS:  The 49 Writers Café would be in the Emerging Artists Gallery, just to the left as you enter the Out North Facility at 3800 DeBarr.  There’s a small parking lot plus free street-side parking.  And you do know that Out North is rebranding as a Contemporary Arts House, right?  Art on the walls would change every month; Out North will handle that.  They’ll also pull out the carpet and install hard surface flooring with ambient or track lighting so we won’t need the ceiling fluorescents.  They’ll supply sixteen café tables that can be easily scooted together for larger group seating.  They have chairs we can use, but they’re a bit of a hodge podge; for a real café feel, we’ll give you a chance to donate a bistro chair (more on that below). 

HOW YOU CAN HELP MAKE IT HAPPEN:  First, we want your input.  Click the icon in the right sidebar to take our quick 49 Writers Café Survey, where you can let us know how you’d use the café, when you’d like it to be open, and how you’re willing to help.  By August 1, please.

To get rolling this fall, we’ll need ten to sixteen 49 Writers volunteers:  one café coordinator plus back-up, and concessions crew persons to sell goodies when the café is open.  We’d ask each writing group that wants to use the café to provide a concessions volunteer for the time period they’re using.  Out North will help us train the concessions crew, and they’ll handle stocking and counting the till. 

And those chairs:  For $79, you can purchase your very own 49 Writers bistro chair for the café.  It will look something like this (except the upholstery will likely be all-black):

On the back we’ll affix a flexible 1” x 3” engraved plaque that will look something like this:

You’ll be able to customize your plaque.  But we do ask that you share your chair when you’re not around!

Questions?  Comments?  Email us at  And don’t forget to complete our quick café survey by August 1.  It’s the best way for us to gather up all the information we need to make this happen.