Wordfest’s Shelley Youngblut receives The Rozsa Foundation 2018 Award for Excellence in Arts Management

The Rozsa Foundation awarded their 2018 Award for Excellence in Arts Management on Monday night, with the recipient celebrating not only the award itself, but the closing night of the successful festival she leads and which earned her the nomination.

On Monday, Oct. 15, Shelley Youngblut, CEO and “Creative Ringleader” of Wordfest, took home this year’s award for her achievements in building it into the world-class organization that it has become, and breathing life into an arts organization that was struggling at the time of her taking over as creative director in 2015.

A champion for the arts and emerging talent over the past few decades — as a writer, editor and now head of Wordfest — Youngblut has in her current role managed to put the literary arts at the forefront of the city’s cultural consciousness, and continues to bring new, emerging and world-class writers and events to Calgary not just during the week-long festival, this year dubbed The Imaginarium, but throughout the year as well.

The Rozsa Award for Excellence in Arts Management was created in 2003 to honour the philanthropic efforts of Dr.s Ted and Lola Rozsa, to celebrate outstanding arts managers and provide developmental benefits to the recipient and his or her organization.

Winners receive $100,000 in cash and educational and consultation opportunities, which includes:

  • $10,000 cash prize to the recipient from the Rozsa Foundation

  • $10,000 cash prize to their organization from the Rozsa Foundation

  • Unique glass sculpture created by artist Julia Reimer from the Rozsa Foundation

  • University of Alberta School of Business (one seat in Management Essentials ($7195) or Executive Program ($10,995) depending on eligibility, two tickets to their Canadian Business Leaders Award Dinner, one ticket to an Eric Geddes business breakfast lecture, and one ticket to their golf tournament) (TOTAL Value: $7880 – $11,680))

  • Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity – Lougheed Leadership provides free tuition for one open enrolment leadership development program ($3250-$5500)

  • CKUA – 2-3 minute interview with award winner and 20 congratulatory ads ($1670)

  • Good Company – $3000 in web and print design and consultation services.

  • Haskayne School of Business (consultative and research services – marketing audit worth $10,000)

  • Deloitte (consulting worth $24,000)

  • Transcend Management (consulting on board succession plan – worth $3500)

  • Ross W Marsh Consulting Group Inc provides consultation for a Fund Development Assessment and Plan ($14,000)

  • Vital Business Systems provides funding for technology ($2000)

The nominees are selected by a jury comprised of previous Rozsa recipients, award partners, and other members of the arts and business communities.

(Photo L-R: Shelley Youngblut, Mary Rozsa de Coquet, and Simon Mallett, courtesy Diane + Mike Photography.)

Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of FFWD Weekly, and has continued to bring The Culture Cycle event listings to Calgary through theYYSCENE. Contact her at