We are thrilled to announce that Valerie Shantz will be taking the lead as our new Executive Director. With her extensive experience in arts and higher education administration, she is poised to bring a fresh perspective and strategic insights to the Festival.
Shantz’s connection to the Winnipeg Folk Festival runs deep. She attended the very first Festival in 1974 with her parents, who had recently moved to Manitoba. Since then, she has been a regular attendee, cherishing the unique experience of the Festival and creating lasting memories with friends and family.
With a master’s degree in public administration and a degree in theatre and drama, Shantz brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her new role. She has held leadership positions in post-secondary education at the University of Manitoba and the Province of Manitoba, including most recently as the Senior Strategic Advisor at Red River College Polytechnic.
Shantz’s career also includes significant contributions to the arts and culture sector. She was the founding Executive Director of Film Training Manitoba and served as Director of Granting Programs at the Manitoba Arts Council. Additionally, she has been involved with renowned festivals such as the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and the Saskatoon Fringe Festival.
An active supporter of the arts, Shantz has served on the boards of the Winnipeg Arts Council, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP) and many more. Her dedication and passion for the arts community make her an ideal fit for the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Expressing her excitement about her new role, Shantz said, “It’s an honour to come and work for an organization that has been the source of some of my favourite memories and live music experiences. I am so excited to lead this work and join the strong team at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Together, we are going to continue to do great things.”
Lucy Szkwarek, Board Chair of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, warmly welcomed Shantz, stating, “We are delighted to have someone of her caliber and experience join the team, and we believe her leadership will contribute significantly to the continued growth and success of the organization.”
Valerie Shantz will assume her role as Executive Director on January 15, 2024. She will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the organization, ensuring alignment with the festival’s vision, mission, and mandate, and leading the staff team in preparation for the 49th edition of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, scheduled for July 11-14, 2024.