Authors at Harbourfront Centre
Since its inception in 1974, Authors at Harbourfront Centre (AUTHORS) has played an important role in the cultural life of Canada by presenting the finest international novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers and biographers, while simultaneously providing Canadian writers with an internationally recognized forum in which to present their work. Incorporated in 1986 as a non-profit organization with a mandate to ‘cultivate and advance the cause of literature,’ the organization operates, year round, under the principal sponsorship of Harbourfront Centre, Toronto’s leading multidisciplinary centre for contemporary arts. AUTHORS is home to a weekly literary event series (September to June), the annual International Festival of Authors (IFOA) (October) and, for younger readers, YoungIFOA (October) and ALOUD: a Celebration for Young Readers with Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™ (May).
The mission of AUTHORS programming is to promote interest and enthusiasm in writing and reading on both a local and international level; to showcase the excellence and variety of Canadian literature; to introduce young readers to the wonders, pleasures and possibilities of reading and writing; to provide Canadian and international authors with an opportunity to meet and to exchange ideas; and to offer programs and events for a wide range of communities and age groups that increase the awareness of all forms of literature.
The Festival and weekly series together have held readings, round table discussions, interviews and performances involving over 8,000 authors from more than 100 countries. Annually, AUTHORS’ programs attract over 80,000 audience members. The majority of attendees come from the Greater Toronto Area, but there is a growing percentage of audience members that come from across Ontario, the United States and internationally.
IFOA was inaugurated in 1980 with a mandate to bring together the best writers of contemporary world literature. Like the weekly series, IFOA includes readings, interviews, round table discussions and talks, as well as public book signings and a festival bookstore. IFOA also continues to present readings by Scotiabank Giller Prize, Governor General’s Literary Award and Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize finalists, the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction recipient, and the awarding of the $10,000 Harbourfront Festival Prize.
Beginning in 2007, AUTHORS sought to grow their audience base by introducing the IFOA’s touring program, IFOA Ontario. This touring program visits communities in numerous cities and towns across Ontario, such as Barrie, Burlington, Hamilton, London, Midland, Milton, Orillia, Owen Sound, Parry Sound, Picton, Port Hope, Sudbury, Uxbridge, and Windsor.
An integral part of IFOA, YoungIFOA was born as a way to include a younger generation of readers in a festival of international repute. ALOUD: a Celebration for Young Readers was also introduced in 2005, featuring some of the world’s leading authors for young people. In 2010, ALOUD was incorporated as part of the Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™.
In May 2007, AUTHORS hosted the first annual Forest of Reading® Festival of Trees™ on the 10-acre Harbourfront Centre site. Now Canada’s largest children’s literary event, attracting 8,000 audience members annually, this action-packed festival celebrates the shared experience of reading through award ceremonies, workshops and activities. Festival of Trees™ is presented with the Ontario Library Association.
Each AUTHORS event is digitally recorded on photo, video and audio. Beginning in 2006, these recordings are sent to the holdings of the Library and Archives Canada. This not only allows researchers and documentary makers extensive use of the archives, but acts as a permanent documentation of AUTHORS’ extensive programming.