The EPL Gala: An Evening with Rainn Wilson

Presented by EPCOR

The 2023 EPL Gala has concluded, leaving us brimming with joy at the outcome. After a four-year hiatus, we were finally able to host our dedicated supporters at our premier fundraising event. The sold-out evening brought together 350 enthusiasts of literacy to reconnect, share a meal, and rally behind a crucial cause. 

This year's fundraising mission centered on EPL's early literacy initiative, Ready. Set. READ! Thanks to the incredible generosity of our gala attendees, silent auction contributors, and sponsors, we not only met but exceeded our fundraising goal by raising $298,760. 

The Gala's keynote speaker, the renowned actor and comedian Rainn Wilson, delivered a remarkable presentation. He discussed Soul Pancake and its profound impact on people's lives, emphasizing the importance of sharing joy and prioritizing mental health for a fulfilling existence. 

Following his presentation, Rainn engaged with the audience, fielding questions on a range of topics, including the ultimate query of "what bear was best" (FYI – it's the Tibetan Sun Bear). 

The event was an exquisite blend of laughter and heart. 

Paying a bit of Fan Service

Hosting an event featuring the delightful Rainn Wilson without a dash of The Office fandom simply wasn't an option. So, we put our heads together and came up with a brilliant plan to sprinkle Office easter eggs throughout the event, and the perfect canvas for this was our silent auction. Each package lovingly paid tribute to a different facet of this cherished show.

Throughout the event's intermissions, Gala Guests enjoyed enchanting live music courtesy of our first-ever Musician in Residence, Mallory Chipman. Her haunting folk melodies and exquisite voice left everyone spellbound. 

As the night drew to a close, and our lovely guests retrieved their coats, their faces lit up with delight as they spotted tables filled with books. To express our heartfelt gratitude for their unwavering support of EPL and our important initiatives, each guest received a special gift – their very own copy of Rainn's memoir, "The Bassoon King." We hoped that these books would serve as a charming keepsake, allowing the whimsy of the evening to linger in their hearts for a few more delightful nights.

Behind the Scenes

Our incredible EPL team put their hearts and souls into crafting a special experience to warmly welcome our cherished supporters back to in-person celebrations. To align with our fundraising purpose, we sprinkled a touch of early literacy magic into the gala's theme – the ABCs!

Our team of creative masterminds at EPL designed an impressive wall adorned with giant alphabet blocks, which stood at the heart of our fundraising efforts. Gala attendees had a blast making donations to flip the letter of their choice, all while eagerly anticipating the delightful surprise of balloons emerging from each block. As the blocks spun around, a captivating image emerged, symbolizing the incredible achievement made possible by the generous donations received at the event: funding to enroll 5000 children in the Ready. Set. READ! Program!

Thank you to our incredible supporters

EPL is fortunate to have an abundance of supporters, donors, and advocates dedicated to making us the city's best place to learn, explore and experience. We took this opportunity to honor two outstanding supporters with the Stephen Mandel EPL Champion Award, recognizing their unwavering dedication to the Edmonton Public Library. This year's award recipients were Jim and Sharon Brown, whose remarkable commitment brought the Brown Family PlaySpace to life as part of the Stanley A. Milner Library revitalization project. In the heart of a city core lacking playgrounds and parks, the PlaySpace offers a haven for families to unite and create enduring memories through playful learning. 

We were privileged to be joined by many exceptional individuals and organizations who champion EPL's work and lent their support to this significant event. 

Our heartfelt thanks go out to our esteemed sponsors: 

  • Presenting Sponsor: EPCOR 
  • Speaker Sponsor: The Muttart Foundation 
  • Literacy Lover Sponsor: TBD Architecture and Urban Planning 
  • Reception Sponsor: The Family of Stanley A. Milner 
  • Sweet Sponsor: CN 
  • Volunteer Sponsor: CSU52 

To all who joined us, thank you for contributing to the resounding success of our Gala. For those who couldn't make it this time, we hope you will join us next year! 

If you're interested in sponsoring next year's event, please get in touch with our Fund Development Team. 

Support Ready. Set. READ!

All proceeds from this event went to support Ready. Set. READ!, opens a new window, EPL’s early literacy program that puts books into the homes of children from birth to five years old.

Studies show that children growing up in homes with books get three years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education or occupation. The first five years of a child’s life are also where the foundations of learning are developed, and this is why getting books into their tiny hands is crucial for long-term success. 

Ready. Set. READ!Ready. Set. READ!

Be a Champion for Early Literacy in Edmonton!
Be a Champion for Early Literacy in Edmonton!

2023 EPL Gala Keynote, Rainn Wilson

Rainn Wilson is an Emmy nominated and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award-winning actor who has found himself in a variety of comedic and theatrical roles throughout his career. His first breakthrough role came when he played assistant mortician “Arthur Martin” in HBO’s Six Feet Under, winning him and the cast a SAG Award. Wilson is best known for playing the inimitable “Dwight Schrute” for nine seasons on NBC’s Emmy award winning comedy, The Office 

When he’s not sharing his talents onscreen, he’s telling stories and connecting people in other compelling ways. Wilson founded the Youtube channel SoulPancake, which boasts more than 2.6 million subscribers. The project has had him exploring ways we all seek connection, hope, truth, identity and purpose.  

With humour and honesty, Wilson has continued on in the spirit of SoulPancake’s mission in the years since, urging audiences to dig deep into life’s biggest questions – of philosophy, creativity, spirituality, love, truth, science, mental health and so much more. 

Thank you to this year's Sponsors!

Event Partners

Presenting Sponsor

Speaker Sponsor

Literacy Lover Sponsor

Reception Sponsor

Sweet Sponsor

Volunteer Sponsor

Premium Table Sponsors


Print Sponsor

Silent Auction Donors

Alley Kat Brewing
Mansur Bitar
The Citadel Theatre
Blake Desjarlais, MP
Edmonton International Airport
EPL Writer in Residence, Kate Boorman
Field Law
Friends of EPL
Hautmann Law

Councillor Michael Janz
Kin Keepers
Londonderry Mall
Lori Frank Creative
Heather McPherson, MP
Metro Writer in Residence, Tololwa Mollel
Erika Nakatsui
OEG Sports & Entertainment
Doreen Prei

Councillor Karen Principe
Rapid Fire Theatre
Councillor Ashley Salvador
Soulflame Creative
Neil Thompson, Maxwell Polaris
Vivo Ristorante
Woolgar Studio

Past EPL Galas

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