Tag Archives: IFOA Ontario
We recently chatted with Sarah Jarvis of BookFest Windsor, one of our current IFOA Ontario partners. Read below to learn her thoughts on our touring programme!
IFOA: How long have you been working with IFOA in Windsor?
SARAH JARVIS: BookFest Windsor first teamed up with IFOA in 2010. Lenore Langs, who was the BookFest Windsor Chair for many years, was approached by IFOA to see if there would be any interest in a joint venture here in Windsor. She worked really hard to make sure that IFOA staff and authors were made welcome in Windsor. We were very excited by the possibility. The first IFOA delegation to Windsor included a whole panel of mystery writers, including Peter Robinson. I remember the buzz that night at our former venue at the Art Gallery of Windsor. It was wonderful to meet the IFOA staff, and the authors were amazing. Our audience was thrilled with the energy of that panel. We’ve kept on with the partnership ever since. It’s now an integral part of our festival.
IFOA: What have your past experiences with IFOA Ontario been like?
SARAH JARVIS: We love our continuing partnership with IFOA Ontario. Over the years, each organization has gotten to know each other better, and we really appreciate how the programmers at IFOA take into account our wishes. Windsor-Essex is a very sophisticated literary town—there are writers in every corner! But authors who might be a big draw in Toronto or Hamilton may not be as well known here. It’s great that IFOA Ontario takes into account our suggestions. That said, we were thoroughly surprised and delighted by the suggestion of Scottish writer Louise Welsh last year. Although Louise wasn’t a familiar name to us here, local media really caught on to her books, and Ted Shaw, the Arts columnist for the Windsor Star, did a great interview with her for our IFOA Ontario panel. Last year, IFOA Ontario introduced us to a great programme that supports local artists—musicians and or artists—as part of the IFOA Ontario appearance. We jumped at this opportunity with our partners at the Windsor Public Library, who encouraged their Comic Book Club to prepare artwork for us to display. We had artwork to display all over the theatre, in the three different presentation rooms, on the stages, and it looked great.
IFOA: How does having IFOA Ontario present at BookFest Windsor enhance your festival?
SARAH JARVIS: We love the element of discovery that comes with working with IFOA Ontario. We put together our own lineup, then IFOA sends us suggestions for the author or authors they’d like to bring us. We’re always impressed that those authors fit so well into our programme for that year. Through IFOA Ontario, our audiences get to see authors that may not otherwise come to Windsor. Our budget doesn’t stretch to international authors, so to be able to piggy-back onto the generous resources of IFOA Ontario enhances our programming. It’s great for our outreach programs, great for local media, great for book sales and most of all, great for our audience. I think that we are unique in that we integrate the IFOA Ontario presentation into our Festival as a whole (for now), and it’s not a stand-alone event, but it really adds an element of discovery for our audience. We give emerging writers a voice at our festival, so for them to be able to interact with established authors through our programming and with IFOA Ontario is also an advantage.
IFOA: Why should other cities and communities participate in IFOA Ontario?
SARAH JARVIS: IFOA Ontario is a wonderful resource to access what’s new and current in both Canadian and worldwide literary presentations. This is extraordinary access to the best and most up-to-date authors and presenters for communities that are not within easy travel distance to Toronto. Even if they are, audience members really appreciate these authors visiting their communities. The conversation goes both ways; the authors learn a bit about the various communities in Ontario, too. The staff work really hard to work with each location to make sure the experience is tailored to a location, but it’s also a great way for audiences in communities to engage in discovery of a new author as well.
IFOA: What has been your favourite IFOA Windsor event?
SARAH JARVIS: Not fair asking me to choose among so many great experiences! However, for me personally, and I’m sure for most of us, it was very exciting to have Eleanor Catton come to join us. When we learned about her nomination for the Man-Booker Prize, we were delighted. Then, I remember rushing home from a breakfast BookFest planning meeting and turning on the coverage of the prize announcement on BBC World News. When they announced Eleanor Catton’s name, I whooped with delight! To be honest, I was a little afraid that she would have to pull out from the Windsor visit to deal with all the press and other appearances, but IFOA Ontario kept its commitment with us, for which we were so grateful. Margaret Atwood had also asked to join us for BookFest that year, which meant we had two Man-Booker prize winners at the same festival. All of our lineups are an extraordinary list of accomplished authors, but this was a highlight. And Eleanor herself was amazing. She packed the room and was utterly insightful, generous and gracious to the audience and her interviewer, Dr. Karl Jirgens from the University of Windsor.
If your community is interested in becoming an IFOA partner for 2015, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We are expanding our touring programme this year and would love to visit a new place.