Held at the Hotel Arts in Calgary, this year’s annual conference had a lot to offer. The highlight was Minister of Culture and Tourism Ricardo Miranda’s announcement of new funding for the publishing industry: $300,000 for each of the next four years. This will be a lifesaver for some smaller publishers, while enabling established ones to take on new staff or tackle new projects. After years of struggle and a decreased levels of support, this is a significant step forward in creating a healthier, more vibrant industry in Alberta.
Friday’s professional development focussed on learning more about our industry, including a booksellers’ panel—Audreys Books and Shelf Life Books—and a presentation from United Library Services. The remarkable afternoon keynote from Chelsea Vowel spoke to our responsibilities to various communities, with her talk titled Publishers as Powerbrokers. She is the author of Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit issues in Canada. Saturday saw lively talk around the new funding, with creative ideas being discussed.
The annual conference is always an opportunity to meet with colleagues and share knowledge and brainstorm new ways of doing things. Conversations were started that will continue over the coming months, and we are sure that the collaborations will lead us in interesting directions.
The gala reception was very special. The keynote by Darrin Hagen was a mix of performance and talk. He told the story behind the publication of The Edmonton Queen: The Final Voyage. His voice is extraordinary and necessary.
The University of Alberta Press had authors and books shortlisted in five categories, which made for an exciting evening. While we did not take home an award this year, it was great to see the delight as each winner was announced. Our congratulations to all the authors and publishers whose work was recognized.