Project Manager / staff meeting (starting from the top, left to right): Christie Huff, Bobb Jo Hart, Guy Rodgers, Swati Khanna, Nick Maturo, Deborah Forde, Daniel Webster, Betty Esperanza, Emily Enhorning, Li Li, and Sufia Duez.
Photo by: Bobbi Jo Hart
Twenty years ago, I was invited to attend a meeting of English-speaking artists convened in Montreal by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Department of Canadian Heritage. The jointly-funded program for minority language artists that emerged provoked serious reflection about the future of English-language arts in Quebec and led to a large gathering of artists at the Quebec Arts Summit in November 2004, which sparked the creation of the English Language Arts Network. This ELAN adventure has been a major part of my life for the past two decades. Now it is time for me to say au revoir. ELAN’s new Executive Director starts in April. I have enjoyed working with Patrick Lloyd Brennan in his role as Managing Director of QDF, and I look forward to helping Patrick take his place with ELAN’s team during the coming months.
ELAN began as an idea with no guarantee for success. It required a lot of luck and help. Shortly after graduating in the National Theatre School’s Playwriting program, I worked with some other young artists to reinvent the obsolete Quebec Drama Festival, and I became the first ED of the Quebec Drama Federation. The success of QDF inspired a group of writers to create the Federation of English-Language Writers of Quebec (FEWQ). As president of both FEWQ and QSPELL***, I negotiated a merger of the two organizations that produced the Quebec Writers’ Federation. The logical next step in a process of community organization was a multi-disciplinary umbrella group. ELAN came into existence with remarkable ease and swiftness thanks to the support from a legion of good people: staff, board, members, project managers, partners, allies, collaborators and funders.
I will be writing to many of you personally, to thank you for your part in bringing ELAN to life, and helping shape the initial idea into a thriving arts service organization that has made a difference in the lives of thousands. ELAN has been particularly well placed to provide support during the Covid crisis, and I am certain that ELAN’s team and its new ED will continue to play an important role during the challenging relaunch of the arts and culture sector in the months ahead.
It has been a pleasure and an honour to serve this community as ELAN’s Executive Director. Covid-19 means we will not be able to get together at a schmoozer in-person to reminisce about what we have accomplished together, but we’ll figure out alternate ways to connect and stay in touch. Until then… au revoir.
(soon to be former) Executive Director
*** QSPELL was the Quebec Society for the Promotion of English-Language Literature, created in 1988 to celebrate anglo-québéois writing with annual prizes (now known as the QWF awards).