TAC Leaders Lab Fellows: 2017 Cohort

This exciting program has been created by TAC and The Banff Centre to enhance leadership capacity in Toronto’s arts and culture sectors. The program is designed for mid- to senior-level arts professionals who have demonstrated the potential to lead change in their organizations, communities or arts sectors.

Keith Bennie

Keith Bennie is the Senior Manager of Adult Learning at the Toronto International Film Festival. He oversees educational programming and partnerships for post-secondary and adult audiences at the organization's year-round home, TIFF Bell Lightbox. These programmes and initiatives offer audiences a platform to watch, talk, and learn about classic and contemporary cinema through on-stage conversations, lectures, and panels. Bennie has been at TIFF since 2011 and previously worked on educational programmes at the Ontario Science Centre, Theatre Museum Canada, and the International LGBTQ Youth Organization. He was a regular arts contributor for blogTO, Toronto's most-visited web site for local news and culture. Bennie believes in the power of the arts and education to build communities, and act as a vital forum to make the world a more inclusive place. He is a graduate of Warwick University and the University of Amsterdam, where he received an Erasmus Mundus Master's Degree in International Performance Research.

Jonathan Bunce
Jonathan Bunce is sometimes better known in the Toronto music community by his stage and pen name, Jonny Dovercourt. Over the last two decades, Jonny has built a multi-faceted career as an arts presenter, musician, writer, and editor. Independent music and urbanism have been his abiding passions since his early teens. He has performed with numerous indie bands, worked as a journalist for publications ranging from Eye Weekly to Musicworks, documented Toronto’s cultural renaissance for Coach House Books’ uTOpia series, presented countless events for artist-run institutions The Music Gallery and the Images Festival, and has even been identified as part of a civic movement, dubbed “Torontopia.” He was recognized with the Face the Arts Award in 2006 and the Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital People in 2013. But the accomplishment he remains most proud of is the founding of Wavelength Music, which was birthed as a grassroots “DIY” collective in 1999. Over the years, Wavelength has grown into a professional, not-for-profit arts organization, presenting ambitious, cross-cultural festivals and programming. In 2013, Jonny made the leap to full-time leadership of Wavelength as its Artistic Director. Not only has this been a personal dream come true, but the organization has been able to make a bigger impact as a professionally led company, especially since the launch of its summer festival, Camp Wavelength, in 2015. For these efforts to champion emerging artists and create inclusive live experiences, both Jonny and Wavelength were recognized as 2016’s “local heroes” by NOW Magazine and Torontoist.

Suzanne Carte
Suzanne Carte is the Assistant Curator at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) and works with a dynamic team to produce high quality exhibitions and public programs. Within her independent practice, she has curated exhibitions in public spaces, artist-run centres, and commercial and public art galleries including You Cannot Kill What Is Already Dead, Video Store, All Systems Go!, Under New Management, MOTEL and Man’s Ruin. She also sits on the Board of Directors of Images Festival, the largest festival in North America for experimental and independent moving image culture. Previously, she held positions as outreach programmer for the Blackwood Gallery and the Art Gallery of Mississauga, and as professional development and public program coordinator at the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. Her critical writing has been published recently in the AGO’s A.I.R. publication for Meera Margaret Singh as well as Magenta Magazine, Art Writ, and Huffington Post. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art History from Sotheby’s Art Institute in New York and a BFA from the University of Windsor.

Gilad Cohen
Gilad Cohen is the founder and Executive Director of JAYU, a charity that shares human rights stories through the arts. Inspired by seeing his own mom become passionate for North Korea after watching a documentary, Cohen launched the Human Rights Film Festival in 2012 as a way of sharing important stories with his community. Since then, JAYU has grown to become a charity that uses multiple forms of art to educate, inspire, and create the safe spaces necessary to share our human rights experiences. A photographer, youth educator, fan of film, and carer of the world, Cohen spends most of his days trying to find innovative and artistic ways of creating platforms for human rights dialogue. With a post-graduate in International Development, Cohen has been invited to speak on human rights in media and several platforms including CBC, CTV, VICE, The Canadian Press, Globe & Mail, Al Jazeera America, as well as the UN in 2012. He was selected as Rothschild Fellow through The University of Cambridge in the UK in 2015.

Ella Cooper
Ella Cooper is an award winning multimedia artist, educator, impact producer, community arts programmer and the founder of Black Women Film! Canada. She has been working in the arts and culture sector for over 17 years and is known for the extensive contributions, programs and initiatives she has brought to the sector over the years. Her creative projects that have been featured in galleries, festivals and for public broadcast, explore the diaspora, the creation of positive representations of the Black body in Canada, equity and arts for social change, community arts, contemporary dance on screen, hybrid identities and documentary storytelling. Cooper also receives continued support from the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for her sector development programs, interdisciplinary art practices and documentary film work. Her latest documentary short ‘Black Men Loving’ won ‘Best Canadian Film’ at the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival and she was a recent artist in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts. As an impact producer and cultural leader Cooper has founded successful not-for-profit arts networks and collectives that have supported the development of thousands of artists and arts leaders across Canada. She creates and helps to develop multi-arts projects for local and international communities, plays leadership roles in program design, marketing, social media strategy, outreach and development for established arts organizations. She is currently a sessional lecturer at U of T Scarborough Arts Management department and has been a featured speaker at many conferences and panels.

Saada El-Akhrass
Saada El-Akhrass is the Arts Manager for the British Council office in Canada, Toronto since October 2014. Her role is to promote a cultural dialogue between Canada and the UK by building partnerships with art leaders, practitioners and organizations in order to connect art communities and audiences from both countries. Through various projects and activities, the Arts team in Canada opens spaces between cultural agents who share common ideas on artistic and social challenges. She holds a Master’s degree in Art History from the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), where she lived for the past 20 years. In 2008, she co-founded Les Territoires, an artist-run centre located in Montreal dedicated to emerging artists. Over the past few years, she coordinated large-scale events and curated several exhibitions in Montréal, Toronto, New York and Mexico City.

Jasmyn Fyffe
Jasmyn Fyffe is an award-winning choreographer, she was the winner of the 2013 Frankie Award (in Montreal) for most outstanding choreography/choreographer for her 50 min work “Pulse.” A graduate of the York University's dance program, she is the director of Jasmyn Fyffe Dance, where she has created over twelve works and has produced a show in Montreal and presented work in Brooklyn (NY) and North Bay (ON). She has also toured solo work to Sinop (Turkey) and Pittsburg (Pennsylvania). Commissions include: Dance Ontario, Iona Secondary School, Early Haig Secondary School, Ballet Jorgen, Wish Opera, K’aeja D’dance and Obsidian Theatre, to name a few. She has produced seven shows in Toronto, both independently and in collaboration with other choreographers. An extraordinary dancer, Fyffe recently worked on Fox Production’s “Rocky Horror Picture Show” under the direction of Kenny Ortega. She has worked with Nelly Furtado, Hanna Kiel, Julia Cratchley, Julia Sasso, Gadfly and more. Fyffe has performed in four Toronto Fringe Festival Shows and was named a “fringe favorite” this year by the Toronto Star in a preview for Aria Evan’s show “rated-r.” This summer she was the only Canadian resident artist at the Dance OMI international collective in Ghent NY. In the fall/winter she will be heading to a month long residency in Berlin Germany as well as presenting work in the “Re-generations” conference in Birmingham UK.

Paola Gomez
Paola Gomez is a trained Human Rights lawyer, Community Organizer, Public Speaker, an Artist Facilitator, a Writer and a Dreamer; member of PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile, Gomez is involved in causes such as Ending Violence against Women and Forced Migration as well as Community engagement. She was awarded with the 2008 Toronto Community Foundation VITAL PEOPLE for her contribution to the better of our City through her community initiatives. Canadian Centre of Victims of Torture CCVT awarded Gomez with the Amina Malko Award for her work in supporting Refugee Women in Canada. Gomez writes poetry, essays and short stories. As a community leader, researcher and emerging curator Gomez has contributed in many aspects to the access and visibility of other Latin American artists into the Toronto's artistic scene; she has co-curated the Art of Non-Violence Collective Art Exhibit, For Love to Frida and other women and “Mientras Las Hojas Caen” among others. Gomez is the co-founder and Director of Sick Muse Art Projects and through this project she has developed an innovative way of integrating conversations of identity, inclusion and community engagement into their Community Art Programs.

Shana Hillman
Shana Hillman is a senior Arts Manager with over 18 years experience in audience development, marketing, fundraising and program development. In addition to working with inDANCE for 13 years, Hillman joined the staff of Kaeja D’Dance as General Manager in August 2013. Previously, Hillman has worked for Creative Trust, Dance Umbrella of Ontario, Toronto Dance Theatre, Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts (now Sony) and the Banff Centre. Hillman is especially interested in sustainability in the non-profit sector and helping companies create deeper value and meaning for their communities, audiences, customers and donors. She has a track record of securing project funding, attaining operating and multi-year support, increasing earned revenues and developing tailored individual and corporate donor programs, stewardship and volunteer management plans. Hillman also does freelance arts writing, consulting and producing for clients such as Anjali Patil/Aroha Fine Arts of Ottawa. In the summer of 2016 she was invited by the TAC to provide mentorship to emerging artists as part of the Arts in the Parks pilot program. She is currently working on a series of videos and blogs for the Ontario Presenters Network new online portal on best practices in community engagement. Hillman is regularly invited to guest lecture at arts management and non profit management classes at the University of Toronto of Scarborough, George Brown, Centennial and Humber Colleges. An active volunteer, Hillman is President of Small Print Toronto, an organization that stages interactive literary events for children, and is the secretary of TAPA.

Umair Jaffar
Umair Jaffar is currently the Performing Arts Manager at the Aga Khan Museum where he works on an ongoing program of music, dance, theatre and film. As a newcomer to Canada, he started his career in Toronto 3 years ago at the Harbourfront Centre where he was an Artistic Associate responsible for curating festivals representing diverse cultures and artistic disciplines. Out of his several festivals, the most notable are Canada Day, South Asia Calling and Hot & Spicy Food Festival. Prior to his arrival in Canada he was the CEO & Artistic Director for IPAC (Institute for Preservation of Art and Culture). IPAC is a nonprofit non-governmental social enterprise based in Pakistan, which works for the preservation and promotion of the traditional performing arts of Pakistan. Under his leadership, IPAC initiated groundbreaking projects such as ALAP (Artist Livelihood Assistance Program) and “Schools of Harmony” which introduced performing arts to primary schools and developed the first primary-school cultural curriculum in Pakistan. In addition, IPAC created a diverse performing arts program producing more than 300 events annually.Before entering the arts sector, he gained his MBA from University of Adelaide, Australia and worked in Pakistan in Finance & Project Management roles for large organizations.

Myung-Sun Kim
Myung-Sun Kim is an artist and currently the Manager of Artist and Community Activation at The Theatre Centre. Her past programming experience ranges from galleries to festivals including Gendai Gallery, Inside Out Film Festival, OCAD University Gallery and Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, where she focuses on diverse and multidisciplinary contemporary art practices, film/ video, and community engagement. Her work as an artist explores ideas around foodways, undocumented history, war, fiction, memory, trauma, abjection, and resilience. She is interested in the sharing of lived experiences and methodologies that may evoke a collective sense of empathy, a deeper understanding and a care for the differences that exist within our complex intercultural communities, in ways that provide sustenance. Kim has a BFA in Sculpture & Installation at the Ontario College of Art & Design (2005), and an MFA in the Visual Arts Program at York University (2009). She has upcoming exhibitions in 2017 at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, ON), OCAD University (Toronto, ON), Craft Ontario (Toronto, ON), and at articule (Montreal, QC) in 2017.

Liz Kohn
Liz Kohn is a communications and marketing expert working at the intersection of arts and city building as the Director of Communications for Artscape, an award-winning not-for-profit organization that pioneered the practice of creative placemaking. In her 16 years with Artscape she has helped to transform its image from local seed project to globally recognized leader, navigating through countless issues and projects related to this entrepreneurial organization. Her strength is in bringing people and ideas together to achieve vibrant, meaningful initiatives that enrich our understanding of culture and our city. As a member of Artscape’s senior leadership team she provides strategic guidance on public and media relations, mission-critical communications strategies and all facets of marketing, as well as business and community development from a communications perspective. Liz is a natural partnership builder devoted to collaboration and diversity.

Magali Meagher
Magali Meagher is founder and co-director of Girls Rock Camp Toronto, an organization that creates the conditions for girls and trans* youth to learn about themselves and others through music-making. A musician with twenty years experience, Meagher has performed and toured with The Phonemes, The Hidden Cameras, Hank, Metal Kites as well as touring extensively in North America and Europe as a solo artist. As a board member of Blocks Recording Club, she was active in bringing to life a vision to create alternative economies for music creation, promotion and dissemination that has left a lasting impression on Toronto’s independent music community. Meagher is completing a Masters in Environmental Studies at York University where she is researching arts-based learning environments, music and girlhood.

Soraya Peerbaye
Soraya Peerbaye is a poet and the author of Tell: Poems for a Girlhood, winner of the Trillium Book Award and shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize; her first book, Poems for the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award. In the broader arts sector, she has more than 20 years of experience in field of management, program and policy development, and advocacy. She was the Dance Officer at the Toronto Arts Council, and prior to that the Equity Officer at the Canada Council for the Arts, advocating for artists of colour and culturally diverse artistic practices. Peerbaye works primarily in dance in a collaborative capacity as a dramaturge, writer, critic, curator, and producer, and currently works with Brandy Leary, Artistic Director of Anandam DanceTheatre, as the company's Curatorial & Program Co-Director. Through Anandam, Leary and Peerbaye produce Contemporaneity, a new dance series dedicated to contemporary expressions of Asian, African, Latin American, Arab, and Indigenous dance. Peerbaye has worked with a wide spectrum of dance and theatre collectives, companies and festivals, and acted as a consultant for major entities involved in the development of dance, including the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists and Cultural Pluralism in the Performing Arts Movement Ontario. She also writes for Dance Collection Danse and other international publications on the arts. Peerbaye graduated with a BA in Theatre from York University and also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph.

Robert Sauvey
Robert Sauvey has an extensive background in arts and cultural leadership positions and is currently the Executive Director of the Dance Umbrella of Ontario. Before joining DUO he was the Executive Director of Dancemakers the second oldest contemporary dance company in Ontario, recently celebrating their 40th anniversary. At Dancemakers Sauvey successfully developed and implemented a new curator led operating model to position the organization for the future. His experience in dance also includes over five years as the Director of Touring and Artistic Administration for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet. His diverse cultural background includes leadership positions at Groundswell, Manitoba’s longest running new music series, The National Screen Institute, where he managed creative film and television training initiatives and working as the Head of Distribution for Video Pool Media Arts Centre, a non-profit, artist-run centre dedicated to the creation, exhibition and promotion of independent media art. He has curated exhibitions for galleries, sat on National arts juries and has been a board member for arts organizations.

Kim Simon
Kim Simon has been active as an arts writer and curator for over 20 years. She has been the curator at Gallery TPW in Toronto since 2003. TPW is a non-profit venue committed to addressing the expansive and vital role that lens-based images play in contemporary culture. Simon's curatorial work is grounded by an interest in the relationship between ethics and aesthetic experience across disciplines, thinking about the conditions of spectatorship, and experimenting with pedagogy as a form of creative practice. In addition to TPW, Simon writes and curates independently for other institutions. Past projects include exhibitions and writing for Oakville Galleries, York Quay Gallery, Doris McCarthy Gallery, the inaugural Nuit Blanche Toronto, Mercer Union, CV Photo, C Magazine, The Tree Museum, Mississauga Art Gallery and Musée d'art de Joliette.

Alanna Stuart
Alanna Stuart is a Toronto-based singer, songwriter, and producer. As one-half of Bonjay, Stuart co-writes and co-produces hybrid music that blends dancehall reggae, Gospel vocal traditions, and classic soul song writing. Additionally, her solo work explores the voice as a malleable instrument, backing it with rhythm-centric instrumentation that reimagines the role of voice in song. Bonjay’s recorded and live output has received acclaim from the New York Times, The Guardian,and BBC, and has been featured in the AGO and Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. Their eclectic output has supported artists as diverse as Charles Bradley, Slim Twig, and LittleDragon.Stuart has been nominated for the K.M. Hunter Foundation Artist Award in music, is a former A.M.Y (Artists Mentoring Youth) youth mentor, and is a board member of the Music Gallery. As a broadcast producer and freelance writer, Stuart has researched and scripted the AGO's inaugural flagship event 'Creative Minds', featuring a discussion about art and social justice, featuring Buffy Sainte-Marie, Deepa Mehta and other luminaries. She has hosted a prime-time Canadian indie radio show on CBC Radio 3, produced mini-documentaries, including a feature on Hamilton's electronic music scene for CBC Arts, and has written about the relationship between art and cities for Spacing Magazine.

Alison Uttley
Alison Uttley is the Associate Director of Marketing at Luminato, a multi-arts festival based in Toronto. She is also the host of a monthly conversation series about topical political issues with the non-profit organization Why Should I Care? Prior to joining Luminato, Uttley worked in marketing and communications at TIFF and Canadian Stage. She has worked as a consultant for creative entrepreneurs and taught marketing at George Brown’s School of Continuing Education. She was shortlisted for Marketing magazine's Top 30 Under 30 in Canada in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, Uttley participated in the inaugural Global Cultural Leadership Programme as part of the European Union's Cultural Diplomacy Platform. She is interested in the intersection of culture, politics, and social change.