Gratitude and the Power of Fiction


In September 2013, Jeri Howitt founded Stories on Stage Davis with the support of a small grant and a group of volunteers. We started out in the cozy, upstairs Learning Center at the Pence Gallery and quickly outgrew the space. To accommodate our loyal audience, we moved downstairs to the main gallery, where, every month, we continue to present fiction introduced by authors and read by actors, surrounded by beautiful, sometimes surprising, and always thought-provoking art.

From the beginning, we have been committed to paying our authors and actors for the work they share with us. This August, in need of additional funds to sustain the series and help cover the costs of our 2016-17 season, we launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. We are thrilled to announce that, on October 5, hours before our deadline and with the help of 70 backers, we met our fundraising goal. (If you selected a perk with your donation, know that we’re busy fulfilling them this week and next!)

More than ever, we are proud to call Pence Gallery—and Davis—home, and we offer our sincere thanks to you for supporting our fundraising campaign by donating, telling your friends, and sharing our links; for joining us month after month at the Pence to celebrate the literary, theater, and visual art that makes our region special, and to our authors, for trusting us with their words, and our actors, for bringing words to life.

At our October 8 event, we were moved by author Carmiel Banasky’s remarks on the power of fiction: “Especially in the immediate political climate, fiction is a tool for empathy,” she said. “It is not an escape from reality. It is an invitation to think broader, deeper, and beyond our own skin. It is an invitation to figure out how we are connected.” In the months ahead, we hope every event—every story—will invite you to reflect on the many connections we share as a community, here in Davis and beyond, and inspire conversations that will continue outside the gallery doors.

And yes—Naomi Williams is getting that tattoo!

Thank you,

Elise Winn Pollard and Naomi Williams, co-directors, and the entire Stories on Stage Davis board

Becky Mandelbaum Wins Flannery O’Connor Award

Becky MandelbaumStories on Stage Davis author Becky Mandelbaum has won this year’s prestigious Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her story collection, Bad Kansas, will be published by University of Georgia Press in fall 2017. Read more about the award here.

Mandelbaum graduated from the creative writing master’s program at UC Davis in 2016 and was selected as the first-place winner of the annual Stories on Stage Davis/UC Davis Fiction Contest in 2015 and 2016. In May 2015 Andy Jones read Mandelbaum’s story “Queen of England”; in May 2016 Tara Henry read “Year of the Tree.” Both performances are available at our YouTube channel.

Guidelines for the 4th Annual Stories on Stage Davis/UC Davis Fiction Contest will be posted in early 2017.

(Photo by Anna Hurst)

We’ve launched our Indiegogo Campaign!

We’re raising funds for our upcoming fourth season at Indiegogo. Stories on Stage Davis is an all-volunteer organization committed to paying our authors and actors, and we depend on your support. If you’re as excited as we are about our 2016-17 event calendar, we hope you’ll consider contributing to our campaign. We’re offering limited-edition perks like season subscriptions, origami books, and our much-loved chocolate chip cookies with sea salt. Help us reach our funding goal, and get something fun in return! Visit our campaign.