TAC Cultural Leaders Lab Fellows: 2016

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.



Aida Aydinyan | Currently the Vice President of Business for the Arts, Aida has been instrumental in the National expansion of the artsVest program since 2011. Building on a cultural management career that encompasses more than 25 years across three countries (US, Armenia and Canada), Aida has been regarded by her colleagues as a visionary and thought leader. Prior to joining BftA in 2011, she was the Executive Director of the Barthelmes Conservatory of Music in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she transformed an organization on the verge of collapse into the most prestigious Music Conservatory of its kind in the region by instituting and implementing a new strategic vision and operational model of two distinct and vital divisions with over 860 students and 35 faculty members. The school is currently considered a “Junior Julliard” in the region and impacts hundreds of young musicians and their families. Aida is a passionate advocate of increased awareness and funding for the arts.

Jutta Brendemuehl | Jutta Brendemühl is the Goethe-Institut’s Program Curator and film blogger. She has extensive international experience in arts programming and strategic cultural management across genres. Previously, she has worked for Harbourfront Centre, Cambridge University Press, and others. Jutta is a director of the EU Film Festival, where her programming won the 2011 Audience Award, and former board president of Theatre Direct, where she currently advises on the Wee Festival.

Career highlights include the ongoing GOETHE FILMS @ TIFF Bell Lightbox; MOVE ON Media Arts Conference with 11 Canadian and European presenters; a multi-year Canadian-German dialogue on urban livability with Evergreen and MaRS; and the realisation of 14 residencies  in Toronto and Vancouver.

After having lived in Germany and the UK, Toronto has been home for two decades, with travels between Berlin and Kolkata. Jutta holds a Masters degree in English Literature, her writing has appeared in POV, DIE ZEIT et al.

John Caffery | John Caffery is a multidisciplinary artist who engages art in social change and works on creative responses to oppression. His 15 year career began on the stages of Vaseline, the legendary party where he performed as a dancer. As a founding member of artist collective Kids on TV, he toured internationally, produced film and video, as well as published. John has worked with the Art Gallery of York University, National Arts Centre, and Harbourfront Centre. In early 2015 he was Artist in Residence with Mammalian Diving Reflex at the Art Gallery of Ontario. John recently became a designer and a mentor for the Banff Centre leadership institute. At Supporting Our Youth (SOY), John designed the program: H.E.A.T.(Human Rights Equity Access Team) to engage LGBTQ2S youth using arts-based methods to develop skills and opportunities that empower them to be active citizens and advocates for social justice.

Photo by Trevor Haldenby

Lawrence Cherney | Lawrence Cherney’s first professional engagement as oboist was under the baton of Igor Stravinsky. For over 40 years as artistic director and performer, he has been at the forefront of Canadian music, often referred to as Canada’s “Ambassador of New Music”. Lawrence founded Soundstreams in 1982, which produces an eclectic annual series in Toronto featuring contemporary music and opera. Increasingly Soundstreams is touring productions on the world stage including international collaborations. It hosts an outreach series Salon 21 at the Gardiner Museum, an annual Emerging Composers Workshop, and has developed a state-of-the-art web platform with a digital concert hall and archive, and the innovative SoundMakers program.

His paramount role in the commissioning, developing, producing, performing, touring and recording of new music by Canadian and international composers has been widely recognized: the Order of Canada, Canadian Music Award, Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement and the Chalmers National Music Award.

Amelia Ehrhardt | Amelia Ehrhardt is a choreographer, performer, and curator based in Toronto, currently the Curator at Dancemakers. She is the founder of the multidisciplinary performance series Flowchart and was the Curating Producer of the inaugural Dance Series at SummerWorks Performance Festival in 2015.  Her work interrogates the specificities and parameters of contemporary dance; through both creation and curation she seeks to tilt the frame around the viewing of this form to feed curiosity in watching. She has worked in residence at HATCH/Harbourfront Centre, Toronto Dance Theatre, and Studio 303, and has been commissioned by the Nomadic Curatorial Collective. Amelia has performed in works by Carol Anderson, Susie Burpee, Julia Sasso and Menaka Thakkar. In 2014 Amelia reanimated Suzy Lake's Choreographed Puppet at the Art Gallery of Ontario's First Thursdays event. She maintains a collaborative relationship with performance maker Liz Peterson and works frequently with multimedia artist Zeesy Powers. Amelia is a graduate of the professional program at George Brown Dance and holds an Honours BA in Dance Studies from York University.

Matthew Fava | Matthew Fava is a musician and arts administrator. He is the Director of Ontario Region at the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) where he has developed education, residency and mentorship programs. In 2016 he is working with Rose Bolton to launch EQ, a program for young women in electronic music.

Matthew has volunteered and worked in the community radio sector in Toronto and helped to coordinate special broadcast events celebrating local hip hop, dub poetry, calypso, and more. Current media projects include an inter-generational interview series for artists, Notations digital magazine, and livestream productions.

Matthew coordinates the Toronto New Music Alliance fostering skill and resource sharing, and he volunteers on the boards of the Music Gallery and Contact Contemporary Music. Matthew plays violin and bass in the psychedelic spacerock band Moonwood which has been featured in events curated by Burn Down the Capital, Long Winter, Wavelength, and Weird Canada.

Seema Jethalal | Seema Jethalal is passionate about the intersection of arts and culture, diversity and inclusion, and social change. She works at Artscape as the Managing Director of Daniels Spectrum, Regent Park’s cultural hub.  Seema serves on the Board of Directors of Manifesto Community Projects where she previously served as Managing Director.  She recently served on the Toronto Arts Council (TAC) Board of Directors until she was accepted into TAC Cultural Leaders Lab program.  Seema sits on Advisory Committees for Ryerson’s City-Building Institute and Roy Thompson Hall & Massey Hall. She holds a B.A. in Cultural Studies from McGill University, an M.A. in Media Production from Ryerson University and has learned even more from her culturally rich upbringing as the daughter of East Indian parents who were born in South Africa.  Seema was a 2012 DiverseCity Fellow and has worked with organizations including ArtReach, Lord Cultural Resources, Ninja Tune Records, Luminato and Zaki Ibrahim.  

Prachi Khandekar | Prachi Khandekar is passionate about experiential learning and communicating with audiences through installations, exhibitions, data visualization, and interactive technologies. She studied Architecture at the University of Toronto, Canada and holds an M.A. in Design Criticism from the University of the Arts, UK. Combining her training in architecture, graphic design and writing, she regularly showcases the work of artists, designers and educators in non-traditional formats, and enjoys the collaborative process of giving form to their ideas. She currently programs and co-ordinates exhibitions for the Paul H. Cocker Gallery, located within the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University.

The TAC Cultural Leaders Lab is an opportunity for her to foster cultural literacy in Toronto and explore new ways to engage the public with local knowledge-creation and cultural production. www.prachikhandekar.com

Brandy Leary | Brandy creates contemporary performances through the body: active as a dancer, choreographer, aerialist, writer, arts advocate, community cultivator, space maker, Artistic Director, educator and curator. Her performance works have been produced and performed in Canada, Europe, India, South Africa and the USA in theatres, urban environments, festivals, museums, art galleries and isolated landscapes.

She has lived between Canada and India for the past 17 years training, collaborating and creating (both explicitly and implicitly) in the traditional Indian performing languages of Seraikella and Mayurbhanj Chhau (dance), Kalarippayattu (martial art) and Rope Mallakhamb (aerial rope). In Canada she works with western approaches to aerial rope, the bridge discipline of Axis Syllabus, post contemporary dance/circus practices and psychic/shamanistic explorations to create dances that ask questions about performance architectures, discourse positioning and curiosities around audience/performer relationships. Much of her choreographic work is based in ritual and participatory structures operating both within, but most often outside, of Eurocentric frameworks.

Sally Lee | Sally Lee, Executive Director of CARFAC Ontario, has worked in arts organizations representing a wide range of disciplines for over 25 years. She has held management and leadership positions at the Toronto International Film Festival, Soulpepper Theatre Company, and the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, where she served as Executive Director. Other groups she has worked or volunteered for include the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto, the Images Festival, Artists for Peace and Justice Canada, Samara Canada, Pan Am Path, BorderLines Magazine and the Women’s Press. She currently sits on the board of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, the Advocacy Committee of the Toronto Arts Council, and the Advisory Board of Reel Asian. She has also participated in the production of several independent films and music videos. She is active in Toronto’s independent music community, and currently plays bass and sings in the band Long Branch.

Su-Ying Lee | Su-Ying Lee is an independent curator whose projects often take place outside of the traditional gallery platform. Lee is interested in employing the role of curator as an active agent. She has also worked institutionally as Assistant Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and Art Gallery of Mississauga, and Curator-in-Residence at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (JMB). Projects at the JMB include Céline Condorelli: The Company We Keep (2013-2014), and Ron Benner: Your Disease, Our Delicacy (cuitlachoche). The project Video Rental Store, begun in 2010 (co-curated with Suzanne Carte) has toured across Canada, giving audiences unprecedented access to artists’ videos. The exhibition TBD (Sep 6-Oct 26, 2014), at MOCCA, was conceived of as an inquiry into the definition of a museum/contemporary art gallery. How to Make Space (co-curated with Jennifer Davis) will be presented in Hong Kong in June of 2016 through apexart’s (NY) Franchise programme.

Brad Lepp | Brad Lepp is the Director of Communications at Soulpepper, Toronto's largest not-for-profit theatre company. At Soulpepper, Brad contributes to strategic planning and organizational growth while overseeing the organization's marketing & branding, ticket sales, media outreach, corporate communications, and government relations. As chair of TAPA's Advocacy Committee for four years he convened the Friends of the Arts network, which built consensus among a ‘big tent’ of cultural organizations, allowing the sector to have a unified voice regarding municipal funding increases. Previously, Brad worked with the Luminato Festival, as well as experience producing, directing and teaching. Brad volunteers on various local and national bodies, and is the Board Chair of the Actors Repertory Company, an ensemble-led indie company focused on presenting global work that resonates within the Toronto community.

Photo by Brianna Roye

Etmet Musa | Etmet Musa aka Ayo Leilani is a Toronto based, Ethiopian/Eritrean singer/songwriter, Founder and Co-Director of Toronto based collective 88 Days Of Fortune and a member of feminist based electro dub hop group, Above Top Secret.

As the founder and co-director of 88 Days Of Fortune she has helped organize, host and sustain an artistically diverse, bimonthly showcase of local and international talent since 2009. Received the Toronto Arts Council’s ‘Music Projects Program’ grant, won $5000 with ArtReach Toronto’s ‘Youth Arts Pitch Contest’ Creative Enterprise Award. Partnered with major organizations like: NXNE, AGO, ArtScape Gibraltar Point, CUE, SKETCH, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Wavelength, Manifesto, MOCADA, Bklyn Boihood, Black Weirdo, Riot Grrrl Berlin and PRIDE Toronto, curated two independent European tours with shows in Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris + London, along with releasing five 88 Days Of Fortune mixtapes and sponsoring countless showcases and music videos.

Sean O'Neill | Sean O’Neill is the Associate Director of Adult Programming and Partnerships at the Art Gallery of Ontario, where he oversees talks, screenings, performances, studio courses and special events for adult audiences, along with special initiatives such as the Gallery’s Artist-in-Residence and First Thursday programs. In 2011, Sean co-founded the performance collective Events in Real Time with artist Liz Peterson. Their work includes Express Yourself, which was presented in Toronto and New York and won the SummerWorks Festival Jury Prize for Risk and Innovation. In 2015, Sean hosted Crash Gallery, a limited-run series on CBC that takes a fun, irreverent look at the creative process through challenges inspired by movements in art history. Sean sits on the board of Gallery TPW, and in 2014 was named one of the Canadian art community’s “Top 30 under 30” by ArtInfo. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto. 

Ananya Ohri | Ananya is the Executive Director at the Regent Park Film Festival. She holds a Master’s degree in Cinema and Media Studies from York University where she researched participatory documentary processes, ranging from community based video work in India and Canada, to online cyber-community video creations. Until recently, she has sat on the board of the South Asian Visual Arts Centre, as well as the advisory committee for the LCO Media Co-op in  Kenya. Ananya is also a filmmaker; her work has shown in Canada and India, with her most recent piece given Best Film distinction at the Toronto Urban Film Festival. Ananya is also a new mom.

Jivesh Parasram | Jivesh Parasram is a multidisciplinary artist, researcher, and facilitator of Indo-Caribbean descent.  He has worked extensively with a wide array of companies and collectives throughout Toronto and Canada. He is a founder and Artistic Producer of Pandemic Theatre, a Co-Founder of the Collective Studio and Events Space, the Associate Artistic Producer at Theatre Passe Muraille, a core member of The Wrecking Ball, and a member of the Ad Hoc Assembly. He has been a contributing author for publications including The Leveller, CBC.ca, and The SpiderWeb Show.  Past committee and public service includes: the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the Theatre Committee for the Toronto Arts Council, The Royal Commonwealth Society, and the Province of Nova Scotia. Past speaking and facilitation engagements include: TEDx, Powershift, the IMPACT Festival, the University of Toronto, and Pueblito Canada. As an artist, his work has played to audiences across Canada, Italy, and in the Caribbean.

Michael Prosserman | Michael Prosserman found his passion for break dancing at a very young age. By the time he was three, Michael was already standing on his head while watching Saturday morning cartoons. Since then, he has performed for over 300 audiences, has spoken at over 100 schools, and has taught hundreds of workshops all over the work from Canada to Italy to Asia to the Arctic. Michael has competed world-wide, placing first in over 22 competitions. Michael is the founder and Executive Director of UNITY Charity (www.unitycharity.com), an organization that uses art to empower youth with the confidence and skills for success through after school programs in break dancing, graffiti art, spoken word poetry and beat boxing. UNITY has reached over 100,000 young people across Canada. In the past year UNITY was featured in over 50 major media outlets in Canada including Maclean’s, Toronto Star, CBC, CTV, Citytv, and many more. UNITY teaches youth to use hip hop as a powerful outlet to relieve their stress and anger in a positive way.

Charlie Wall-Andrews | Charlie Wall-Andrews is the Manager of the ​SOCAN Foundation. She completed her Master's Degree at York University in Ethnomusicology, where she received the Nirvan Bhavan Fellowship. She is a m​ember of the Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Arts Consultants of Canada (ACCA), and currently working towards completing her Masters of Business Administration degree from Ivey Business School​. She serves on the Board of Directors as the Vice-President of Development for Choral Canada and freelances as a french horn player in community orchestras and ensembles. Currently, Charlie is completing a fellowship focusing on Diversity and Inclusion in Philanthropy with AFP. Her values are rooted in: diversity, social justice, and promoting civic pride through the power of the arts.​You can learn more about Charlie by visiting: www.charlieandrews.ca