Kingston WritersFest announces new Artistic Director

Aara Macauley, incoming Artistic Director of WritersFest, is seated on the right. Image courtesy of WritersFest.

The Board of Directors of Kingston WritersFest announced yesterday, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, that Barbara Bell would complete her service to the Kingston community as Artistic Director of the Festival on December 31, 2020. The twelfth annual festival was presented completely online this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet was still a great success.

The Board of Directors have identified a new Artistic Director, who has been involved in Kingston’s art community for over 10 years, organizing fundraising and planning events for various local cabaret, film, and arts festivals. She served as a member of the Reelout Arts Project Board for eight years.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Aara Macauley will step into the role of Artistic Director on December 1,” states Board Chair, Julie Leclerc. “Aara has volunteered and worked for the Festival in various capacities for many years and has demonstrated great dedication and passion for the Festival’s mission. We are very fortunate to have her take on the Artistic Director’s position. Aara has been working closely with Barbara to ensure a smooth transition and I am confident she is more than ready to assume the new role. Barbara will stay on board to year end in an advisory capacity.”

Aara Macauley’s passion for the written arts led her to pursue a B.A.H. in Classical Studies and an M.A. in Latin Literature from Queen’s University, according to a release from Kingston WritersFest, dated Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. She joined Kingston WritersFest in 2014 and in the last three years has served as the Operations Manager where she oversees the day-to-day operation of the organization. WritersFest says she is a discerning and eclectic reader, and has provided valuable insights as a member of the programming advisory committee. She writes a regular book review column featuring Kingston WritersFest authors and personal picks for Grapevine Magazine.

Aara Macauley. Image courtesy of WritersFest.

As Bell nears the end of twelve years with the Festival, six years as Artistic Director, she comments, “I am sad, of course, to leave. My work with Kingston WritersFest has been deeply meaningful to me. At the same time, I am so pleased to be handing the reins to Aara Macauley. Having worked closely with her since she joined Festival staff, I am confident of her commitment to the Festival and am looking forward to seeing her vision and creative direction for the Festival next year.”

Bell will continue to serve the Kingston community in a more personalized, one-on-one way, launching TurasLife, a private online practice in developmental life coaching early in the new year, according to the release.

Essential planning for the 2021 festival has already begun, and programming will begin in January. “Please join us in congratulating Aara,” Leclerc finishes. “As the 2021 Festival takes shape, we invite you to watch for updates on our Facebook page. You can sign up to get insider and early-bird information on our website,

For details on offseason programming and the 2021 festival, please visit

About Kingston WritersFest

Kingston WritersFest has established itself not only as a prime Kingston cultural event, but also as one of the top Canadian literary festivals. Kingston WritersFest aims to explore the ideas that shape our world, warm our hearts, and stir our imaginations through author readings, writers’ studio master classes, food and beverage events, and discussions that celebrate culture, history, imagination, diversity, and originality.

The Festival, which aims to be a community that celebrates the power of the written word by connecting readers and writers in inclusive conversations that inspire, engage, and expand our worldview, was professionalized in 2009 and quickly became a cherished cultural fixture in the Kingston community. The Festival has since established a role as an organization that promotes diverse literary expression, develops and grows an audience for the literary arts, and fosters the artistic development of writers of all ages..

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