(Photo by Yasmeen Strang)
Leslie Hurtig has been appointed the new Artistic Director of the Vancouver Writers Fest, one of the largest and most prestigious literary festivals in the world. Following an extensive, Canada-wide search, Hurtig was appointed by a select hiring committee and will replace Hal Wake, current Artistic Director, as of December 2017. Hurtig will be the third Artistic Director in thirty years, following Wake and Founder Alma Lee. She joins Executive Director, Nicole Nozick, and an extended team of more than 30 staff, in stewarding this venerable festival in its next iteration.
“We are thrilled to have Leslie bring her passion for books, authors and readers, as well as her tireless commitment to the Festival to this important position,” said Alison Broddle, Chair of the Board of Directors. “We are excited to see how she will put her own imprint on our many events and community partnerships.”
A lifelong contributor to—and champion of—Canada’s publishing industry, Hurtig brings decades’ experience of working with books and authors to the role. She possesses extensive knowledge of the Festival, having acted as a Director and then as Board Chair from 1999 to 2016 combined. Staff and board colleagues alike know her as dedicated, insightful and warm, balancing forward thinking innovation with pragmatic reason—not to mention possessing a lifelong passion for the written word.
Her experience of the publishing industry is as in depth as it is broad. Hurtig’s prior positions include Bookseller with Munro’s Books; Freelance Publicist with McClelland & Stewart; Publishers’ Representative with Michael Reynolds and Associates; and Foreign Rights and Contracts Manager with Raincoast Books. This deeply rooted passion is a long-standing tradition of Hurtig’s family: her father is the beloved bookseller and author, the late Mel Hurtig.
“To curate and nurture electric conversations: what a thrilling opportunity,” Hurtig expressed. “It’s an honour to build upon the outstanding work that Hal Wake and Alma Lee accomplished to make this literary festival one of the best in this country. The Vancouver Writers Fest is a gem in the crown of Vancouver’s cultural scene and I’m excited to take it into its next decade.”
Hal Wake also expressed his excitement about the recruitment. “I’m very pleased with the announcement. We’ve worked together for many years at the Festival and her commitment to the vision of the VWF is unparalleled. I look forward to seeing the new ideas she brings to the table and I will be ready to help in any way I can.”
Hurtig will work as Incoming Artistic Director as of October 2, closely working with Hal Wake in October and November. She will begin the role of Artistic Director in earnest as of December 1, 2017.