David Alexander, Word on the Street Festival Director

The Word on The Street festival has been a fall tradition since 1990. This week we spoke to David Alexander, Festival Director for Word on The Street to learn more about how we can help champion for reading!

Word on the Street
From Word on the Street’s Facebook

What problem does it aim to solve?

The Word On The Street champions reading and writing in Canada primarily through a free festival celebrating storytelling, ideas, and imagination. We connect people with books by diverse Canadian and Indigenous authors, we promote literacy, and we support aspiring and emerging writers of all ages.

When did you start/join it?

I’ve been with the organization for two and a half years.

What made you want to get involved?

I love festivals, and I love books and reading.

What was the situation like when you started?

The Word On The Street started out in 1990 as a free one-day book fair hosted on Queen Street West. The festival has grown quite a lot, and moved twice since then, first to Queen’s Park, then to Harbourfront Centre. The festival has a long history as a gathering place for book- and magazine-lovers from across Ontario.

How has it changed since?

We’ve expanded our operations quite a bit, especially online in 2020. This summer, we’ve launched a City Imagines event series on how books shape cities. We’ve also expanded our festival schedule with a national event series called Words Across Canada. And we even hosted a 2-week virtual kids program back in August. And we have plans to execute a spring marketplace at Evergreen Brick Works in June 2021, assuming it’s safe to do so. The role The Word On The Street plays—as a connecter to great Canadian and Indigenous literature—is one that can be pursued far beyond the one-day book fair that was envisioned back in 1990.

What more needs to be done?

We’d love to continue to expand our programming, both geographically and throughout the year. We’re also looking to improve accessibility measures. Each year we expand our ASL interpretation and, for online events, live captioning services. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find the resources we need to make improvements. But we are working to grow our capacity through donations.

How can our readers help?

Donate to The Word On The Street.

Do you have any events coming up?

Already working on the 2021 Festival! people can go to toronto.thewordonthestreet.ca for all other upcoming information.

Where can we follow you?

@TorontoWOTS on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We also have a YouTube channel where people can enjoy a dozen virtual author events we’ve hosted over the last three months.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

The Festival of Literary Diversity in Brampton is pretty great! We also just did an event with Paul Taylor of FoodShare Toronto, an awesome food justice organization who also delivers a locally-grown Good Food Box to people across the city each week.