Meet the new director of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts
Jane Davidson steps back from the role she held for more than 15 years and Marisa Alps, a 30-year veteran of the publishing industry and former festival society board member, will take Succession.
The Sunshine Coast Festival of Written Arts has chosen a new artistic and executive director to lead the annual gathering of Canadian writers and readers into its fifth decade.
Marisa Alps, a 30-year veteran of the publishing industry and a former board member of the festival corporation, will assume the role in August. She succeeds Jane Davidson, who held the position for 15 years. The two will collaborate at this year’s festival, which runs August 11-14 at Rockwood Park in Sechelt, before Davidson retires at the end of October.
“Even though publishing was my career, I almost feel like it prepared me to step into that role,” Alps said, “with heart and soul in a cause that is so close to my heart.”
Alps’ experience in the publishing industry began in the early 1990s with a position in the sales and marketing department of Harbor Publishing, headquartered in Madeira Park. Her responsibilities expanded when Harbor owners acquired Douglas & McIntyre in 2013. She previously served on the board of Gibsons-based publishing house Nightwood Editions.
Alps is one of over 150 regular volunteers at the festival itself, as well as a participant for over 20 years.
“Marisa’s vast experience, knowledge and connections within the publishing industry, as well as her love and knowledge of the Sunshine Coast make her the ideal person to move forward,” said said John Lussier, president of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts. “It will be exciting to see what Marisa brings to this position.”
Alps is a resident of Halfmoon Bay, where she has lived for almost 20 years. Her three children are graduates of School District 46. Their experience has given her first-hand insight into the festival’s student outreach programs.
“Seeing the programming that Jane [Davidson] has been able to bring in a large number of students every year – it’s a cause I believe in very deeply,” said Alps. “I am very attached to literacy. What the festival’s vision and mandate does for the Sunshine Coast really resonates with me. »
Alps’ nomination is the result of an extensive search that began when the festival’s board formed a succession committee in December.
“[Davidson] directed with such integrity and vision, helping to make SCFWA one of the premier literary festivals in Canada,” said Lussier. “She will be greatly missed, but we know the festival is in good hands.”
Since its inception in 1983 by Betty Keller and members of the SunCoast Writers Forge, the festival has grown into a nationally recognized event that attracts over 8,500 spectators over three days of readings, receptions and workshops. Nearly 1,000 students participate each year in its Celebrating Authors, Books and Community initiative.
“I’m interested in finding ways to partner with other community groups, look at audience development, and find new ways to inspire our community through the Writers’ Festival,” said Alps, who will work with the festival board to develop its strategic plan.
The 2022 festival, which marks the 40th anniversary of the event, will feature two dozen guests, including broadcaster Shelagh Rogers, author and filmmaker Ivan Coyote and journalist André Picard. Tickets will go on sale in mid-June.