With branches thriving across Canada, Canadian Author Association members can find a place to be inspired, network, and participate in a local writers’ community. But if the branch closest to you is still further than you’d like, you might want to consider starting a branch in your city or hometown.
In fact, we know there are a number of communities across Canada that would benefit from a local branch, and members in those locations simply need individuals with drive and enthusiasm to get branches started.
What does a branch do?
Branches are an important part of the association, and their grassroots efforts help us accomplish our objectives as a national arts service organization.
Branches create community among local members through regular meetings, writing circles and/or workshops. Some branches host special networking events, and many hold readings and book launches or publish an anthology of members’ works.
To get a better sense of what branches do, you might want to explore some of the branch websites (see Branches). Keep in mind that you’re not alone, as staff and other branch executive will be available to advise and guide you along the way.
To activate a new branch, or reactivate an inactive branch, at least 7 professional members must sign a petition and provide support that the proposed branch will have the resources to continue operations into the future. The petition will be reviewed and approved by the board of directors at their next quarterly meeting.
To be eligible, the proposed branch should have a minimum of four individuals willing to commit to sit on an executive committee and be jointly responsible for managing the branch, organizing meetings and activities, contacting guest speakers, etc.
Preferably, at least one member of the executive committee is a Professional Member, and at least one member is willing to assume the position of branch treasurer. (Once official, the branch will open a bank account under the branch’s name, and will require two signatures for signing cheques.)
What if we don’t have 7 professional members in our area yet?
If you don’t have seven professional members in your area but you have at least five members who are interested in forming a group, you can begin the process by starting a twig.
A twig is an informal branch or writing circle, and the requirements are simple and straightforward: two individuals willing to share the role of program coordinator, and at least three other members.
There is no requirement for professional status, and twig funds are managed by national office or a willing mentor branch. In addition, staff at the national office are available to help twig coordinators with advice, support and resources.
How to get started
If you are interested in starting a branch or twig, contact staff at the national office. They will be able to guide and support you, answer your questions, advise you on how many members are in the area, contact local members on your behalf to determine the level of interest, and ultimately provide you with some tools and resources to help you.
There is also a Branch Support and Development Committee, comprising presidents of all the existing branches, that meets regularly via teleconference. Members of this committee will also be a source of advice and information, both now and as your branch grows and evolves over time.