Search for New Artistic and Executive Director: Job Description and Application Process

Our Purpose

The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts (SCFWA) aims to:

  • bring Canadian writers together with readers at a Summer Festival
  • promote the Sunshine Coast as a literary and cultural community, and
  • advocate for literacy and the development of the craft of writing.

The SCFWA is a registered charity and non-profit society.

Our Vision

We celebrate the wonder, joy and power of stories to entertain, educate, inspire, connect and transform our lives. Our vision is to host literary events with a diverse audience during a Festival that includes Canada’s best known and emerging authors.

Our Values

The SCFWA aims to create a welcoming space that is accessible, inclusive, and accepting of different voices and identities. We are committed to a safe and respectful environment that encourages a shared openness to new ideas and dialogue. We appreciate the people with whom we work:  authors, audiences, volunteers, staff, funders, donors and sponsors. The SCFWA seeks equitable and collaborative partnerships with schools and other community organizations. The Festival Pavilion is accommodating for those patrons with disabilities and accessibility challenges. The SCFWA models environmental sustainability.

Our Place

We are honoured and grateful to gather on the shíshálh swiya, the homeland of the shíshálh People. We strive to be respectful and good allies through both word and action.

ch’atlich (Sechelt) is the largest community on the Sunshine Coast which stretches from Howe Sound to the entrance of Desolation Sound. The town sits on a narrow sandbar which separates Sechelt Inlet from the Salish Sea. It is home to a large community of artists that pull inspiration from the landscape and coastal life.

The ever-popular SCFWA is held in an open-air Festival Pavilion seating  400 patrons in the beautiful Rockwood Centre. The setting offers a rare degree of intimacy and dialogue between our readers and invited writers.

Our Programs

2022 marks the 40th year of the longest running summer festival gathering of Canadian authors and audiences. The SCFWA invites emerging and established writers from Canadian independent, professional publishing houses and major international publishers. The artistic program reflects the diversity of identities, experiences and voices in Canadian writing. The SCFWA is a highlight of the Coast cultural calendar, attracting 1500+ readers annually, with more than 50% of visitors from other communities.

Since 2007, the SCFWA has partnered with School District 46 – Sunshine Coast to bring over 75 Canadian authors to Coast classrooms from grades K-12, reaching 1,000 students annually. Our Celebration of Authors, Books and Community (CABC) educational outreach program gives young people the tools and inspiration to write and tell their own stories. Coastal Voices, an adjudicated anthology of student writing, is published every year through this partnership.

Our Community

Many writers cite the SCFWA as their preferred venue because of the close relationship that has been developed with our Artistic and Executive Director (AED) and our audiences over the years. It is this deep connection between authors and readers that sets the festival apart.

Key to our success has been:

  • the quality and diversity of writers presented. Since its inception in 1983, the SCFWA has presented over 850 Canadian authors of every genre, representing diverse communities across Canada.
  • our loyal and enthusiastic patrons who support the SCFWA through their attendance and donations. Through their generosity, we were able to reach a Legacy of Literacy endowment target of $1 million in just three
  • a dedicated team of over 150 volunteers that contribute an estimated 950 hrs each year to assist with every aspect of the SCFWA.
  • a professional production crew and summer staffing that makes sure everything runs seamlessly.
  • an independent bookseller that stocks and promotes all our presenting authors.
  • the core funding we receive from all levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal.
  • the sustained support from local businesses that sponsor our programs year after year.
  • a committed Board of Directors that strives for a stable, well-resourced organization and accountable governance.

Our Posting

Jane Davidson, who has directed our organization for 15 years, has chosen to retire in October 2022. Thanks to her efforts, the SCFWA enjoys a stellar reputation. Publishers and authors regularly praise the SCFWA for its respectful professionalism and engagement with writers.

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the AED is responsible for the artistic, financial and administrative operations of the SCFWA. The AED ensures that the core vision and values of the society are honoured and expressed in all of its operations.

The SCFWA aims to develop and foster a workplace culture of professional excellence, equity, creativity, collaboration, inclusion, integrity, transparency and accountability. The SCFWA is compliant with federal and provincial safety and human rights standards.

We are seeking a highly organized and motivated person to lead the organization. The AED is the only full-time permanent employee working in an open-concept office, supplemented with a Festival production crew of five, one summer  intern and part-time contractors as needed.

  • The AED supports the Board and the work of its subcommittees towards achieving the SCFWA’s vision and strategic goals. The AED attends and provides minutes of monthly Board meetings.
  • The AED envisions and executes the annual artistic plan and audience development strategies. The SCFWA has carefully developed a Festival program that reflects the diversity and innovation of contemporary Canadian writers in every genre.
  • Together with the Finance Committee, the AED determines and monitors the annual budget and spending priorities. The SCFWA has an operating budget of $250,000: 50% earned revenue, 25% public sector, 25% private sector. The Sunshine Coast Foundation invests our endowment funds of over one million dollars. The AED provides timely and accurate reporting to the Board and external funders.
  • The AED identifies opportunities to secure public/private/corporate/endowment funding to ensure the ongoing financial viability of the organization. This work involves grant writing and reports.
  • The AED oversees maintenance of SCFWA property including the Festival Pavilion. The AED recommends and monitors all capital expenditures.
  • The AED develops the annual communications and marketing plan encompassing promotion materials, advertising, press releases, e-newsletter, videos, blog, social media postings and website.
  • The AED manages all production logistics, including any technical/staging requirements, videotaping, captioning services, box office and ticket sales, and organizing travel and accommodation arrangements for presenting writers.
  • The AED effectively recruits, orients, trains and manages staff and production contractors. Summer staff usually supervise volunteers involved with SCFWA.
  • The AED represents the SCFWA in the community and maintains strong collegial relationships with media, publishers, authors, schools, funders, sponsors and major donors.
  • The AED is committed to bringing Indigenous knowledge and ways of being into our operations, aligning with the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and in building relationships with our host Nations.

Our Candidate

Our ideal candidate has a minimum of five years managing a not-for-profit organization. We seek a passionate and energetic arts leader with demonstrated skills in strategic planning, governance, budgeting, fundraising, marketing, event coordination, human resources and community building. Knowledge of contemporary writers and the publishing industry in Canada would be useful. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are key to effectively engaging with diverse audiences and stakeholders. The candidate has successfully developed collaborative arts initiatives with varied communities including school outreach programming. We’re looking for someone who can readily respond to opportunities and challenges as they arise with poise and equanimity and humour. An inclusive leadership style is desired with a demonstrated commitment to equity and diversity. Familiarity with the Sunshine Coast is an asset.

A plurality of lived experiences and perspectives is vital to our work. The SCFWA particularly encourages candidates from underrepresented communities to submit an application.

The SCFWA offers a competitive salary between $50-60,000 and a full benefits package. Interested and qualified individuals are encouraged to submit their CV in confidence to the Search Committee via email to John Lussier, Board President at AEDSearch@writersfestival.ca.

In your cover letter, please identify the central dynamics, issues or opportunities that need to be considered as we transition from a long-term director to a new cultural leader.

Application deadline: February 11, 2022. The Search Committee plans to interview short-listed candidates in Spring 2022. The projected start date is August 01, 2022. All candidates will be notified of results.

Jane Davidson is available to address any enquiries about the Festival or the position and can be contacted at jane@writersfestival.ca.

Jane Davidson will work with the successful candidate for three months from August 1 – October 31, 2022 to ensure a complete and comprehensive transfer of knowledge and information.