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Writers’ festival to say farewell to Jane Davidson

'Jane is beloved by the arts community, the authors she books, and festival patrons. We were so privileged to have her for so many years'
Jane Davidson speaking at the Rockwood Pavilion podium in 2019.

The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts (SCFWA) is on the hunt for a new artistic and executive director, with word this week that Jane Davidson will be leaving the position next fall.

By that time, Davidson will have spent 15 years at the helm of the hugely popular three-day festival at Sechelt’s Rockwood Centre. The event, launched in 1983, has also become the country’s longest-running summer gathering of Canadian writers and readers.

Davison said the scheduling of her departure has been known within the organization for some time.

“I informed the board, probably three years ago, that at the end of our fiscal year in October 2022, that that would be a logical time to leave,” Davidson told Coast Reporter. “So, we’ve known it was coming. But once we got the job posting created, it kind of got real.”

That posting appears in Coast Reporter’s classified ad section this week and has an application deadline of Feb. 11. The successful new candidate would begin Aug. 1, shadowing Davidson through the upcoming festival in mid-August and learning at least some of the complexities of the job with her through October.

“My energy is still strong, and I still have enthusiasm for the job,” said Davidson, 65. “It sounds like a cliché but that’s the way I want to leave.”

Davidson has enjoyed the support of what she has called “a very engaged and involved” board of directors, plus 200 volunteers and a part-time technical staff. There is only one full-time employee: her. “I book the writers, I order the porta-potties, and I do everything in between – the marketing, the publicity, the fundraising,” she noted in a 2015 interview.

“Jane does everything just masterfully,” said SCFWA board chair John Lussier. “And she has such a stellar reputation in the literary community. Also, we’re probably in the best financial shape we’ve ever been in. A big part of that is Jane. She’s a master at grant writing. She knows exactly what to do, she’s got contacts everywhere. She’s on top of it all.”

Journalist and former Coast Reporter associate publisher Cathie Roy was on the SCFWA board when Davidson was hired in 2007.

“It will be a gigantic loss for the festival when she steps down,” said Roy. “Jane is beloved by the arts community, the authors she books, and festival patrons. We were so privileged to have her for so many years.”

Davidson, a mother of four, said she has no specific plans for work after she leaves the festival.

“My focus really is on getting to the finish line,” she said. “And then having the opportunity to take some deep breaths and just see what see what might come my way.”