Banff Centre’s literary and publishing programs to focus on disseminating content
Throughout the Banff Centre’s 80-year history, thousands of video and audio recordings of visiting writers and artists have been captured. The valuable collection, along with text records and physical artefacts, is accessible at the centre, but an ambitious new strategy will deliver a curated selection of the archives to the public through a new website and radio station.
Broadcasting archival material is just a small part of Banff Centre president Jeff Melanson’s billion-dollar plan to increase the centre's profile that also includes a television channel, a TED-style website, and an arts centre in downtown Banff.
At the Banff Centre Press, the new strategy means publishing activities will be split from the literary arts deprtment and placed under the umbrella of the “dissemination departments.” The realignment will shift focus onto cross-platform distribution and promotion of titles.
“We have access to the latest audio, film, and digital media technologies here,” says Banff Centre Press managing editor Robyn Read. “We’re looking at ways that a book can be experienced across multiple platforms, like perhaps having segments online, some film or audio content. It’s not necessarily increasing the number of books, as I think would be the traditional growth of a publisher, but thinking about new ways to publish the books that we do publish here.”
Starting in 2014, the press will announce other initiatives, including a digital platform for original short stories and long-form non-fiction.
In the literary arts department, director Steven Ross Smith will be busy identifying archival material for the new radio station, set to launch this spring. The centre already records the department’s live events, including readings, panel discussions, and interviews programmed in conjunction with WordFest, the joint Banff-Calgary writers festival. In the five years that Smith has been at the centre, he estimates there have been between 300 and 500 events recorded.
Smith says he’ll also be scouting for original content. “We’ll have an eye out for stories that can be told out of the programs,” he says. “I don’t necessarily mean the writing itself, but… interviews, for example.”
Despite the change in focus, Smith says the Banff Centre’s commitment as a space for writers to work is still first and foremost. “The d-word, dissemination, is a big part of the new strategy,” he says. “But writers will still come in their particular specialties and still have the same mentorship and guidance as ever.”