- Corporate body
The Blue Metropolis Foundation was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1997. Its incorporation was done in conjunction with the creation of Blue Metropolis Inc., owned by Linda Leith. Initially created to help collect funds for projects like a literary magazine, the purpose of the Foundation soon became the organization of an annual literary festival. This festival, named the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, was inspired by “Write pour écrire,” an event organized in 1996 by three Montreal writers in partnership with the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois (UNEQ).
The first Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival took place at the Europa Hotel on Drummond Street in Montreal from April 19 to 23, 1999. In addition to readings, on-stage interviews, and panel discussions, events included the first Blue Metropolis Translation Slam, literacy programming, and community writing activities. These events took place in both English and French. Certain events were bilingual.
The second Blue Met festival took place in 2000 at the Hotel des Gouverneurs, Place Dupuis, in Montreal. During this iteration, Spanish became the third “official” language of the Festival. For the first time, the “Grand prix littéraire international Metropolis bleu” was assigned. It was in that year that CBC Radio and Radio-Canada began their involvement with the Festival. Since 2000, the Foundation has expanded its programming beyond the Festival and began organizing a wide range of educational programs for children and adolescents. The first such program was the Student Literary Program, which was first introduced at the Festival in 2000. The Foundation continues to offer year-round literacy activities.
In subsequent years, new languages were added to each iteration of the Festival. Events in non-official languages, including Italian, Dari, Farsi, later Arabic, Russian, and Chinese, were offered without translation. In order to offer programs in various languages, the Festival conducted outreach to various communities and established partnerships with different community organizations.
In 2007, the Blue Metropolis Arab Literary Prize was created, with annual funding from the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.
Linda Leith was president of the Blue Metropolis Foundation from 2003 to 2011.