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Celebrating Alma Lee  -- presenting a World of Words on Granville Island -- October 18 - 23, 2005  -- includes la joie de lire events in French
18th Annual Vancouver International Writers Festival
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Alma LeeWell, this is it folks—the last time I will be writing this welcome to you, our loyal and supportive audience. It has been a long and sometimes rocky road developing this Festival to this stage. Many people have kept it going, especially in difficult times—federal, provincial and municipal governments, corporate sponsors, publishers, individual donors and Festival members. All these supporters have one thing in common—they not only sustain us financially, they attend events and sit in the audience. It is you, the audience, that has helped to make this Festival what it is today. And for that I will be eternally grateful. You have made my experience here satisfying, fulfilling and fun. I am delighted with the choice of Hal Wake as the Festival’s new Artistic Director. Hal is well known to Festival audiences, in the community and to writers. He is a real “book man” and I know he will do a splendid job of continuing to bring interesting, engaging and entertaining writers to Vancouver.

There are many people to thank who have helped along the way, including our fantastic volunteers who make the Festival run like a well-oiled machine. Writers definitely notice this when they are here. The Festival staff also make this event run like a machine—a true team who have been returning year after year to help the permanent staff “put on the show”. Over the years we have had some amazing and hard-working volunteer Directors on the Festival’s Board. Previous Board members have ensured that those who followed on after them were cognizant of what was required to keep this organization well governed and on track. The current Board of Directors has been a powerhouse of energy and hard work and I raise my hat to them for being one of the best Boards in the non-profit sector of Vancouver.

This Festival has become a cultural institution in our city. I am proud and honoured to have been able to bring to Vancouver some of the world’s most engaging and talented writers. The way the Festival has grown year after year proves that there is a yearning for good writing and serious discussion. This is where people who read gather to listen and meet people who write. This is a place where you can meet and talk with others of like mind. I trust the program this year meets with your expectations and that you find writers who are known to you and many who are new and exciting and whose books you will enjoy reading in the winter months to come.

I’ll be seeing you at future Festivals but just in a different guise.

Alma Lee
Artistic Director