Roots festival director departs

The artistic director of the Roots and Blues Festival has been laid off.

Doug Hearn, chair of the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society, confirms that Linda Tanaka was laid off Monday.

He said he is unable to comment further as it is a private, personnel matter.

Hearn said the future of the position hasn’t been decided.

“That will be decided by the board after the election.”

He was referring to the election of the board which takes place at the annual general meeting, held Wednesday in the art gallery.

He said the position will not be discussed at the AGM because it’s a personnel matter.

Contacted by the Salmon Arm Observer, Tanaka said she isn’t able to comment at this time.

In 2006, Tanaka was one of 44 British Columbians to receive a B.C. Community Achievement Award, in part for her role as founder of the Roots and Blues Festival, this year to be its 16th year of operation.

Terry Wickham, producer of the Edmonton Folk Festival for 20 years, has liaised with Tanaka during the years she’s done the festival.

“How can you lay off someone when there’s work to be done and money in the bank?” he said.

He said the layoff is unfair and is raising eyebrows among other festival officials in B.C. and Alberta.

“People are talking about this, it’s ridiculous, it’s unfair. They’re shocked,” he said.

“The fact is, Linda started the festival... She did it for no money for many years and got all kinds of deals... These things are like jumbo jets, they’re very hard to get up off the ground.”

The 16th Annual Roots and Blues Festival runs Aug. 15 to 17.

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