Books, brains, and beer


LitFest New West expands its borders

By Adam Tatelman, Arts Editor

The city of New Westminster has long been a hive for students and patrons of the arts looking to make contributions, and as the years go by, more people are drawn to the growing number of arts events in the area. As a result, the Arts Council of New Westminster have decided to amp up their event planning and promotions. To that end, Arts Council member and former Other Presser Trevor Hargreaves sat down to discuss the future of LitFest.

According to Hargreaves, one of the greatest challenges facing the LitFest is appealing to a larger and more varied audience. Given the influx of families and business professionals into the New West area, potential attendees now come from a wider age range. “It’s really all over the map,” Hargreaves noted, “so we tried to get something for everyone.”

To make good on that promise, the LitFest had to grow. “Traditionally, these events have been fairly small. They appeal to the same people every year. They’re very literature focused, based around seminars,” Hargreaves observed. “With the establishment of the Anvil Centre and other places like it, you have new venues for performance, so we’ve expanded the festival to those areas, where in the past it’s mostly been confined to the Douglas campus.”

To justify the use of so many spaces, LitFest had to increase the scope of its advertising to draw more patrons. In addition to the usual poster and word of mouth campaigns, the Arts Council has sponsored multi-string advertising, including targeted marketing on social media, regional NDP newsletters, promotion through various arts groups, and even a series of ads in the Georgia Straight.

At Hargreaves’ behest, Douglas College’s creative writing department, Aboriginal Coordinator, and Alumni association have partnered with LitFest to assist in promotions. “Last year I was on the alumni association, so it only made sense to bring these things together,” Hargreaves commented. “It reflects all the aspects of Douglas College’s literary and journalistic ambition.”

In order to entertain the growing audience, a number of fun events have been scheduled. The event begins with a beer tasting at the New West public library, hosted by CBC’s Stephen Quinn. The tasting also features Joe Wiebe, author of Craft Beer Revolution, who will deliver a talk on the history of beer-making in New West.

In the following days, there are a number of seminars and workshops based around writing, proofing, editing, and publishing, including a poetry reading at by local poets’ society Poetic Justice. There will also be talks with big figures like former BC Premier Ujjal Dosanjh and CBC’s Grant Lawrence, followed by a singer/songwriter’s panel.

“The theme for the event is the diverse community; if you’re a writer, whatever your interests are, there are a variety of seminars and workshops throughout the day for you,” Hargreaves said. “My buddy once said that New West is the Brooklyn to Vancouver’s New York, because New West has gone through such a sense of urban renewal. You’ll find that reflected at our festival.”

LitFest New West takes place May 13 –19. Get details on the event at


Full disclosure: The Other Press is a sponsor of LitFest New West