Vancouver Writers Fest artistic director Hal Wake announced plans this morning to step down from his position after the 2017 edition of the annual event, the 30th in its history.
Only the second artistic director to serve the festival since it began in 1988, Wake took over the role from founder Alma Lee in 2006. During his tenure, he’s put together programs that blend bright local and Canadian talents such as Ashley Little, Anakana Schofield, and Joseph Boyden with international figures like J.K. Rowling, Martin Amis, Marlon James, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Yaa Gyasi.
Likewise, the fest’s reading series Incite, running twice a month at the Vancouver Public Library, has featured Margaret MacMillan, Vincent Lam, William Gibson, and Joyce Carol Oates among its guests.
The news of Wake’s plans for departure comes alongside strong figures for this year’s festival, which wrapped up last Sunday (October 23). The 17,000 who attended the nearly 100 events on the bill set a new record for the VWF, and spent over $100,000 on books, an increase of 15 percent over 2015.
“I've had a good run,” Wake said in a VWF media release this morning, “and 2017, our 30th anniversary, seems like a good time to move on and try some other things.”