Planning for Festival 2020 well underway despite director’s departure

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Over the summer, former director of the Festival of Faith & Writing (FFW) Lisa Ann Cockrel left her position after four years’ work in directing the 2016 and 2018 Festivals, among other projects. In lieu of her departure, the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing (CCFW) released the following statement in July:

“Lisa Ann Cockrel is leaving her position as director of the Festival of Faith & Writing and managing director of the Center. Lisa has been named Fellow-in-Residence at Bennington College where she is in the final year of an MFA program and finishing a book manuscript. The Center wishes Lisa well in her future endeavors.”

With Cockrel leaving, the CCFW team needed to review their options for possible staffing solutions. Professor Jane Zwart, co-director of the CCFW, explained that “over the summer, the CCFW team met and assessed what the Center required in terms of staffing going into 2018–2019 and into Festival 2020.”

She continued, saying, “We realized what we really needed was someone to help direct our social media strategy as well as assist with the mountain of clerical and billing responsibilities that Center has.”

“We’re really excited to be currently advertising for a new Program Coordinator position that should be filled by mid-November. It’s a really important job—one that’ll need someone with a number of talents,” added Professor Jennifer Holberg, also a co-director of the CCFW.  

The Festival, which is held every two years, is the Center’s largest event, and planning for the next one often begins immediately after the last one. Currently, there is one program coordinator, Sarah Turnage, and one creative director, Jon Brown. The planning committee consists of Zwart and Holberg as the co-directors of the Center, and three faculty fellows: Professors Lew Klatt, Debra Rienstra and Deborah Visser.

“The Festival has always been a team effort — the faculty committee and staff working together — so this new staffing model really won’t change our fundamental process,said Zwart.

The first FFW was held in 1990, so Festival 2020 will be the 30th anniversary of the event.

“It’s so exciting to be dreaming about all the ways to celebrate our 30th anniversary,” said Zwart. “After 30 years, it’s really more like a community reunion.”

According to Holberg, the planning for Festival 2020 is way ahead of schedule, and several authors have already been booked. Names of these authors cannot be released due to contractual agreements. However, more names will soon be added to that list.

“Our goal is to have almost our entire roster in place by the end of this school year,” said Holberg.

Besides planning for Festival 2020, there are many other things going on with the CCFW.

“The Center is more than the Festival, of course,” said Holberg. “We have a podcast, a regional literary arts calendar, a Publishing Institute (coming next May) and other events. So things are busy!”

For example, Zwart mentioned the two-day celebration the CCFW is hosting for the centenary of author Madeleine L’Engle.

“We’ll have conversations just for students and on Friday, November 30, at 7:30 p.m., join writer Sarah Arthur, filmmaker Catherine Hand, and L’Engle granddaughter/literary executor Charlotte Jones Voiklis for an evening assessing and celebrating the literary, creative and spiritual legacy of Madeleine L’Engle. And have some birthday cake too!”