IMPACT 21 Conference Yellow Banner

How Do We Begin Again? 

IMPACT 21 Industry Conference: ‘How Do We Begin Again?’

September 30, October 1, 2, 8 & 9

ONLINE ONLY | FREE (Registration Necessary)

About the Conference

We will examine the bounds of what we mean to each other, and explore how we can apply these insights to our industry as we begin again.

What if we brought everything back to relationships, and stripped away titles but respected and honoured lived experiences―in ourselves and in each other? What if we could forge connections not out of necessity, but to truly understand one another and build a bridge?

This year’s IMPACT Co-Instigators are devising an experiment to explore these concepts during the festival. Industry professionals from a range of perspectives will be invited to participate in an exchange that will involve documenting the journey of a relationship stripped of titles, centering lived experiences, and bridging gaps of awareness. We invite you to join us as a witness, as an Instigator, or as someone looking to shift the sector one person at a time.

Session Details:

Sessions begin at 11am each day on Zoom, with a 1-hour long break, followed by guided & small group discussions by the panelists & conference committee.

Sessions At-A-Glance

  • Day 1: Radical Welcome & Theatre-Making Culture
  • Day 2: Rethinking the Application Process
  • Day 3: Bridging Creative Communities
  • Day 4: Why Do The Good People Always Leave?
  • Day 5: Building Locally, Building Over
  • Day 6: How Do We Begin Again?

IMPACT 21 Co-Instigators

Denise Bolduc, Glodeane Brown, Margo Kane, Kevin Ormsby, Lily Shearer, Charles C Smith, Sarah Nairne, Pam Patel 

Special Thanks & Acknowledgement 

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 

Ric Knowles 

Sessions // Panelists & Panelist Bios

DAY 01 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

Radical Welcome & Theatre Making Culture

As we begin to re-open our doors, we must be compelled to look at the ways in which we were making theatre previously and how that has dictated the outcome of the work. We must be critical of the culture, and systems that we’ve been conducting our work in and examine the way that it affected artists and their creation processes. We’ve placed expectations and rules by which artists are supposed to be creating without realizing those “guidelines” have let the artistic connection, practice and individual experience fall to the wayside. There is lack of understanding around what artists need when being commissioned, or during the process of developing a piece. Moreover, the guidelines we set, have inflicted generational repercussions. Are the boundaries we created to set ourselves apart, the very thing that is drowning the array of artistic pieces we engage with? Are the boundaries now guardrails? And if we’ve funneled ourselves onto a conveyor belt that is hindering creativity, and authenticity…how can we put a stop to it?

We’ll start off the IMPACT 21 Conference in this session by coming together, bringing artists, presenters and companies table to see how our actions have shaped the industry and the effects of those actions on spaces for artists, and true understanding, and care towards connection with the work and each other. We’ll take a closer look at the effects the previous theatre-making culture has had on IBPOC artists and creators, the ways in which categorizing work reasserts broken colonial systems and how we refocus ourselves to prioritize art, to welcome artists back with their processes on their own terms.

Moderators: Denise Bolduc, Kevin Ormsby & Lily Shearer | Panelists: Glodeane Brown, Lily Shearer, Marjorie Chan, Reneltta Arluk, Sherry J. Yoon | w special presentation by Artist Cara Loft

photo of Denise Bolduc
Denise Bolduc | Moderator

Denise Bolduc is an accomplished cultural leader and a catalyst for creative growth. Denise curates, programs, and produces platforms inspiring creative experiences, exchange, collaboration, and engagement.

Selected work: Biziindan!, Illuminating works, and Tributaries (Luminato Festival), The Original Peoples Party & First Nations Exchange-Turtle Island program (Tri Nations, Australia), Transforming Landscapes, New Voices New Vision, Inconvenient Ideas, and Intersections of Culture (CAPACOA), Beyond 150 Years: An Acknowledgement of Indigenous Film (REEL Canada), Miiyuu Pimaatswin Symposium (Native Women in the Arts), Songs in the Key of Cree (Tomson Highway Retrospective), Maadaadizi/Summer Journeys (PanAm Games), and Thunderbird Marketplace (One of A Kind/Miziwe Biik Development).

Denise was founding Artistic Director & Producer of Planet IndigenUs, the Indigenous Arts Program Officer (Ontario Arts Council), and the Indigenous Dance and Music Program Officer (Canada Council for the Arts), and Co-Founder & Artistic Director of the Aboriginal Music Project. She has programmed and presented in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. She is an instructor, mentor, speaker, host, a member on numerous boards and advisories, and has partnered on many artistic projects with numerous arts and cultural organizations. Denise is the recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s Indigenous Arts Award, the SOLID Festival’s Arts Leadership Award, the Indigenous Business Leadership Award and a Fellow recipient with the ISPA International.

photo of Kevin Ormsby
Kevin Ormsby | Moderator

Artistic Director of KasheDance and Program Manager at Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO), Kevin A. Ormsby has performed with companies in Canada, USA and the Caribbean. The Canada Council for the Arts’ Victor Martyn Lynch – Staunton Award recipient and TAC Cultural Leaders Fellow, has been a Guest Artist at the University of the West Indies (Mona), Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Wisconsin – Madison and Northwestern University.

Kevin’s creative research practice through KasheDance’s technical approach to dance exists in a space of constant interrogation and navigation of Caribbean cultural nuances towards a methodology of understanding space in creation, research, and presentation.

He is on the Boards of Dance Collection Danse, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and has served on the Boards of Canadian Dance Assembly, Prologue to the Performing Arts and Nia Centre for the Arts.

photo of Lily Shearer
Lily Shearer | Moderator / Panelist

Murrawarri/Ngemba woman Lily Shearer celebrates 40 years in Cultural Arts & Community Development, Performance and Theatre Making, Producing and Arts Administration in 2021. A land-based storyteller on the unceded lands of Ngemba & Gadigal peoples, Lily collaborates with communities, emerging and established artists of all genres, enabling stories for the stage, festivals, music, installation and film.  Lily’s practice of enabling First Peoples leadership and ownership initiatives is at the core of all her works, including the establishment of Moogahlin Performing Arts (2007). A process outlined in Protocols of Engagement: ‘Community Cultural Development’ Encounters an Urban Aboriginal Experience (2009). This process provided leadership opportunities for local First Peoples Australian performance practitioners and provided new opportunities for emerging local First Peoples Australian theatre-makers and practitioners.

Lily’s practice is deeply embedded in Cultural Values and beliefs of Murrawarri/Ngemba peoples, instilled to her by her Grandparents, Parent and community of Brewarrina where she was born and raised.  Commencing in Cultural Arts as a Dancer, Lily also attributes her diverse knowledge and Cultural Arts practice to the University of Elders that she has so fortunately worked with over the past 40 years in Brewarrina, Redfern, Glebe, Blacktown (Mt Druitt) and Sydney’s Greater West.  These collective wisdoms inform Lily’s practice looking at the holistic self of First Peoples and PLACE Making to include physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being in relationship with Mother Earth, who sustains all life with food, shelter and clothing.

Lily was a CreateNSW Fellow (18/19), Ros Bower Award recipient (2016) and alumni of the British council’s Accelerate Program (2012). 

photo of Glodeane Brown
Glodeane Brown | Panelist

Glodeane Brown is an arts management professional, an arts and culture blogger, and a sometimes curator. She is the General Manager at CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, a contemporary public art organization that puts on a free biennial of art in the public spaces of Waterloo Region. In 2021 CAFKA celebrates its 20th anniversary as the longest running public art forum in Ontario. Brown is the Founder and Editor of Culture Fancier, the blog she started in 2016 to educate, entertain, and inspire people. She writes about art events and regularly features local and international creative professionals. In 2020 she received an arts award from Arts Awards Waterloo Region for her contribution to the local arts community.

photo of Marjorie Chan
Marjorie Chan | Panelist

Born in Tkaronto (Toronto) to settlers from Hong Kong, Marjorie Chan is the Artistic Director of Theatre Passe Muraille. As an award-winning interdisciplinary artist, she primarily identifies as a writer with specific interest in contemporary opera and collective forms, while also maintaining an active practice as a dramaturge and director.

photo of Reneltta Arluk
Reneltta Arluk | Panelist

Reneltta Arluk became an artist as an act of cultural resurgence. She wanted to be able to tell Indigenous stories from an Indigenous perspective – preserving tradition while creating new culture within her community. This led her to the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto when she was just 19, then onto the University of Alberta, where she became the first Indigenous woman to graduate from their BFA acting program.

After graduating, Reneltta did a seven-week residency at Banff Centre. She vividly recalls the energy when she arrived and the impact that Banff Centre had on her – most notably, being exposed to so many different perspectives and types of art, giving her a fresh view on her own work. Now, as Banff Centre’s Director of Indigenous Arts, Reneltta’s role has changed, but her goal remains the same. She’s still focused on fostering Indigenous culture through storytelling, only now she’s doing it by building a community that supports Indigenous artists, helping them discover their voice and turn their ideas into reality. As for the future of Indigenous arts programs at Banff Centre, Reneltta has a big vision – she wants to create a strong Indigenous voice on a community and global level. 

But she’s happy to do so one artist at a time. 

photo of Sherry J. Yoon
Sherry J. Yoon | Panelist

Sherry J Yoon, Artistic Director of Boca del Lupo in Vancouver BC, is a theatre creator and director with a passion for creating new performance through collaborative pursuits. With the company she has co-created over 45 productions, selected credits include: Fall Away Home, an inter-generational site-specific production in the forests of Stanley Park; Photog. a collaboration with established conflict photographers, and Expedition a series of iterative projects about climate change.

During Sherry’s tenure the company has received numerous awards including the Rio Tinto Alcan Performing Arts Award, Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Production, Design, Actor, Ensemble, Stage Management, as well as the Critics Choice Award for Innovation.

Her productions have toured festivals and venues across Canada, Europe and Mexico. She just completed an interactive installation about climate change and our relationship to our guilt and isolation that involves the audience charging a battery on a stationary bicycle, and plays2perform@home a national project that brings micro boxed works from across Canada to be performed with your chosen family bubble. As a freelance director she has worked with companies selected credits include: Richmond Gateway, Bard on the Beach, Vancouver International Children’s Festival, and the National Arts Centre.

Sherry also sits on the Studio 58 Arts Advisory, and has been part of Canada Council’s REAC committee and the Arts Advisory for Theatre Section and the BC Arts Council Advisory. She has launched the 3.7% local and National Leadership Initiatives – and advocacy group to support emerging and established BIPOC women and non binary artists in leadership, and most recently Stop Asian Hate an initiative that has galvanized Asian Canadian Leadership in the performing arts across Canada to help stop the spread of anti- Asian sentiments through connection and support within our communities.

photo of Cara Loft
Cara Loft | Artist / Presenter

Cara Loft grew up in a small farming community, called Ilderton, located just northwest of London, Ontario, Canada. She spent summers on Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory, exploring the land and playing with her cousins. She is from the wolf clan, a proud hand drum carrier, woman’s traditional dancer, singer, photographer and poet. Cara made her first drum in 2010 at the Indigenous Student Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU). Since then, she has sat with traditional Indigenous drum carriers, song keepers and Elders in order to hone her craft of Indigenous hand drumming and singing. She also volunteers to teach hand-drumming at the Indigenous Student Centre at WLU.

Currently, Cara works for Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada as the Coordinator for the Master of Social Work, Aboriginal Field of Study Program since 2016. She graduated from WLU in 2013 with a Bachelors in Health Sciences and went on to pursue a post-graduate certificate in International Development at Humber College. More recently, Cara graduated from WLU in June of 2020 with her Masters in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory, looking at the power of music within social action. Cara has performed her singing, poetry and hand drumming at WLU events, the KW Multi-cultural festival, as well as Kultrun World Music Festival in Kitchener. Cara has experience working within the WLU, and Kitchener-Waterloo Indigenous Communities and looks to support them through art.

Cara’s ultimate goal is to foster a sense of understanding and help build relationships between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of Canada. Cara finds that a common thread that brings all peoples together is music, and with this thread she plans to co-weave a tapestry that will bring together the people of Wilfrid Laurier University and beyond. She wishes to tell a story of coming together through music and the co-creation of an Indigi-orchestral piece of music.

DAY 02 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 01, 2021

Rethinking the Application Process

Hosted by CPAMO as part of the State of Emergence Project produced in partnership with Mass Culture and Art of Festivals

As the diversity of artists’ presentation and processes increase, current funding models are still rooted in a colonial structural approach and favour presentation culture, revenue generation in the arts. Often successful and sometimes not, the application and funding models have become a game of the haves and the have not. Its results impact both the wellbeing and validation of an artist’s creativity. Are there shifts required in the application process that can mitigate the challenges faced by many with the application process? Artists and organizations in Canada are faced with a historical dependency on grants. The competition for funding and the lack of investments into funding is suggesting a reformation of the application process. As we examine the idea of how do we continue in our practices, funding structures need to be revised by the artists and organizations’ ideas and experiences at the center.

Ever wonder how a grant is developed, structured and priorities placed in them? With the focus on digitization, should video components beyond support material be considered? Should hybrid application processes be implemented? How can the process of applying, assessments, and feedback support artists for the future imaginations of the application process?

In the session we will discuss accountability in funding organizations, developing relationships beyond titles, and returning to a focus on storytelling rather than art for commodification and how we sustain such processes moving forward. The session encourages ideas around radical shifts rather than incremental change and seeks to explore challenges but also invitations to possible radical shifts through critical discourse to implementation.

Join us after this session for a symposium on Zoom, where CPAMO with be sharing a special announcement about their new publication Living in the Skin, I am In: Experiential Learnings, Approaches and Considerations towards Anti-Black Racism in the Arts followed by a discussion.

Moderator: Kevin Ormsby | Panelists: Colin Wolf, Nova Bhattacharya, Patti Pon

photo of Kevin Ormsby
Kevin Ormsby | Moderator

Artistic Director of KasheDance and Program Manager at Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO), Kevin A. Ormsby has performed with companies in Canada, USA and the Caribbean. The Canada Council for the Arts’ Victor Martyn Lynch – Staunton Award recipient and TAC Cultural Leaders Fellow, has been a Guest Artist at the University of the West Indies (Mona), Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Wisconsin – Madison and Northwestern University.

Kevin’s creative research practice through KasheDance’s technical approach to dance exists in a space of constant interrogation and navigation of Caribbean cultural nuances towards a methodology of understanding space in creation, research, and presentation.

He is on the Boards of Dance Collection Danse, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and has served on the Boards of Canadian Dance Assembly, Prologue to the Performing Arts and Nia Centre for the Arts.

photo of Colin Wolf
Colin Wolf | Panelist

Colin Wolf is a Métis performer, theatre maker, and activist from the North-East of Moh’kins’tsis (Calgary), AB on Treaty 7 Territory. Wolf graduated with a BFA in Dramatic Arts from the University of Lethbridge in 2014, and then spent 5 years making theatre all over the prairies with dear friends, trusted colleagues, and complicated colonial institutions.

Wolf co-founded Thumbs Up Good Work Theatre Collective with his sister Caleigh Crow in 2013. After cutting his teeth in TYA, on regional stages, and in Indie theatre in the prairies, Wolf felt the call of the North and moved to Whitehorse in October 2019 to serve as the Artistic Director at Gwaandak Theatre Society on the Territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. Since then he has occupied his time picking berries, snowshoeing, and tending to the artistic landscape to encourage the development of thriving art makers.   

photo of Nova Bhattacharya
Nova Bhattacharya | Panelist

A groundbreaking and award-winning dancer, choreographer and cultural leader, Nova crafts vivid images that invite the viewer on a journey of heart and mind.  Her creative inspiration is found in her Bengali culture, Bharatnatyam practice,  Scarborough rock’n’roll roots,  painting, photography, literature,  film, nature, rituals and the unending cycles of life and death.
Her critically acclaimed works have toured Canada, Germany, India, Japan, the United Kingdom and Uganda.  Her choreography has been commissioned by several dance and theatre companies and she is the recipient of multiple awards and nominations for artistic achievement and contributions to community, including the 2012 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement.
Nova believes  that dance expresses the essence of our  humanity and has tremendous transformative power to bring us together.

photo of Patti Pon
Patti Pon | Panelist

Calgary Arts Development President & CEO Patti Pon (she/her/hers) is a veteran community and arts champion. Her extensive track record of leadership and service in Calgary include staff leadership positions at EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts (now Arts Commons), Alberta Performing Arts Stabilization Fund, and Alberta Theatre Projects, and volunteer positions with Calgary Foundation (board), Calgary Stampede (committee), the Asian Heritage Foundation of Southern Alberta (founding board member), imagineCalgary (steering committee),
and CKUA Radio Network (board).

In 2021 Patti was the first woman of colour to be appointed to the board of the Calgary Stampede. Patti has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal as well as the 2013 Harry and Martha Cohen Award, recognizing significant contribution to Calgary’s
theatre community.

DAY 03 – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 02, 2021

Bridging Creative Communities

Art should not be separated from living, and for too long we have sat and perpetuated the divide. We’ve relied on our IBPOC and marginalized artists to bring art to new heights, but continually ignore that their processes are not only different, also require us to come to the table and with open minds to make sure they are being invested properly before expecting them to package their trauma, ancestral and spiritual practice for us to partake in. The conversations about diversity operate without the consistent voices of racialized, and potentially also intersectionality marginalized artists. They instead turn to throwing IBPOC and marginalized people on stage or adding one racialized or person with a disability on the creative team to satisfy “inclusion initiatives” rather than striving to be better and actively taking a hard look at where our terminology, and expectations for these artists come from, and how we’re failing them.

So if we know we need to do better, where do we start? And once that work begins, how do we continue beyond the individual and apply it to our collective structures, even beyond our industry? Perpetuating our narrow view of diversity widens the gap, and it takes all of us as a society to also demand this understanding of our local media and politicians. We need to begin the active work in dismantling systems that keep us from recognizing the work and lived experience of artists beyond trauma and go back to understanding ancestral practices. Bridging Creative Community we’ll discuss these topics, what role the media plays, and how to create space that goes beyond surface boundaries and focuses on being more culturally aware and intentional in how we’re centering the creations of racialized people.

Moderator: Lily Shearer | Panelists: Adam Pottle, Isabella Stefanescu, Laura Mae Lindo

photo of Lily Shearer
Lily Shearer | Moderator

Murrawarri/Ngemba woman Lily Shearer celebrates 40 years in Cultural Arts & Community Development, Performance and Theatre Making, Producing and Arts Administration in 2021. A land-based storyteller on the unceded lands of Ngemba & Gadigal peoples, Lily collaborates with communities, emerging and established artists of all genres, enabling stories for the stage, festivals, music, installation and film.  Lily’s practice of enabling First Peoples leadership and ownership initiatives is at the core of all her works, including the establishment of Moogahlin Performing Arts (2007). A process outlined in Protocols of Engagement: ‘Community Cultural Development’ Encounters an Urban Aboriginal Experience (2009). This process provided leadership opportunities for local First Peoples Australian performance practitioners and provided new opportunities for emerging local First Peoples Australian theatre-makers and practitioners.

Lily’s practice is deeply embedded in Cultural Values and beliefs of Murrawarri/Ngemba peoples, instilled to her by her Grandparents, Parent and community of Brewarrina where she was born and raised.  Commencing in Cultural Arts as a Dancer, Lily also attributes her diverse knowledge and Cultural Arts practice to the University of Elders that she has so fortunately worked with over the past 40 years in Brewarrina, Redfern, Glebe, Blacktown (Mt Druitt) and Sydney’s Greater West.  These collective wisdoms inform Lily’s practice looking at the holistic self of First Peoples and PLACE Making to include physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being in relationship with Mother Earth, who sustains all life with food, shelter and clothing.

Lily was a CreateNSW Fellow (18/19), Ros Bower Award recipient (2016) and alumni of the British council’s Accelerate Program (2012). 

photo of Adam Pottle
Adam Pottle | Panelist

Adam Pottle’s books include the award-winning novels Mantis Dreams and The Bus, the poetry collection Beautiful Mutants, and the critically acclaimed memoir Voice.

His plays include the drama Ultrasound and the groundbreaking musical fantasy The Black Drum. His essays and stories have been published in Quill and Quire and This Magazine, and his most recent short story, The Rottweiler, was shortlisted for a National Magazine Award in 2020.

He currently serves as Writer in Residence at Sheridan College and is revising his new novel and preparing a new Deaf musical for production in 2022. His children’s book Butterfly on the Wind will be released in 2023. He lives in Saskatoon.

photo of Isabella Stefanescu
Isabella Stefanescu | Panelist

Isabella Stefanescu is a painter and interdisciplinary artist based in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario. Originally from Romania, Stefanescu immigrated to Canada and continued her education in mathematics and fine arts at the University of Waterloo.

She is one of the founders of Globe Studios, an artist-run creative hub located in Kitchener, of Contemporary Art Forum, Kitchener and Area (CAFKA), and of Studio D20, a women’s media arts collective.

Her work has been shown in public and private galleries in Canada, United States and France, and at festivals in Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the USA. From 2014 to 2020 Stefanescu was artistic director of Inter Arts Matrix, a think tank and an incubator of interdisciplinary art projects based in the Region of Waterloo. Isabella Stefanescu is a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council K.M. Hunter Interdisciplinary Artist Award.

photo of Laura Mae Lindo
Laura Mae Lindo | Panelist

Laura Mae Lindo, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener Centre, is a respected activist and educator who holds both a Masters and PhD in Education.

Laura Mae is the Official Opposition Critic for Anti-Racism, Colleges & Universities and also Chair, Official Opposition Black Caucus. 

Her commitment to building inclusive communities both within and outside of educational environments is grounded in her knowledge of how to put anti-oppression theories into practice. Recipient of the 2017 Schaus Award, Laura Mae’s ongoing work to challenge systemic racism on campus and in the community has positioned her as a knowledgeable advocate for the rights of women and girls, a respected ally to marginalized community members, and, most importantly, a courageous public speaker on issues often left unaddressed in the mainstream.

DAY 04 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 07, 2021

Why Do The Good People Always Leave?

What is passion, dedication or love for what you do, when you’re working in unyielding conditions? What happens when that deep intrinsic power isn’t propelling us forward? What happens when people are stifled from being able to create without barriers, or enact the necessary changes to advance us for the better? When the policies fall on ignorant ears, we find the industry losing talent, and advocates that many need to survive in their own work.

The pressures placed on arts-workers, artistic producers, and namely artists to work in institutions that were not made for their benefit weighs heavily, and in many cases isn’t always sustainable. For example, artists and arts organizations rely on equity offices, and funding officers to help them in their granting cycles, this is a necessity for many organizations falling in priority groups. However, the turnover in these councils can be quite high, and leave artists, ad hoc groups and companies without advocates and guidance. Though in Rethinking Systems of Support, we’ll be examining the current mechanisms in the granting sphere, in this session we want to discuss the obstacles of those in working equity offices, and artistic/cultural leadership positions are experiencing when trying to produce or develop artistic productions, and how we can also adjust our systems to make sure they’re protected. Without them, what are artists to do when their advocates, collaborators and creators are being bulldozed by the very system that is supposed to be supporting them and what do some of these blockades in advocacy look like?

Once we’ve lost those who care most, how are new arts workers, advocates and producers who see the problems in the system expected to affect real-time change? How are they to work in this system and avoid burnout? It’s vital for us to unearth where the gaps in the institutions lie, how that affects artists and how we start laying sustainable ground for new advocates, producers and creatives to support the industry and germinate new policies, practices and offices that will nourish us in a healthy way.

Moderator: Denise Bolduc | Panelists: ahdri zhina mandiela, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard Heather Cant, Lori Marchand

photo of Denise Bolduc
Denise Bolduc | Moderator

Denise Bolduc is an accomplished cultural leader and a catalyst for creative growth. Denise curates, programs, and produces platforms inspiring creative experiences, exchange, collaboration, and engagement.

Selected work: Biziindan!, Illuminating works, and Tributaries (Luminato Festival), The Original Peoples Party & First Nations Exchange-Turtle Island program (Tri Nations, Australia), Transforming Landscapes, New Voices New Vision, Inconvenient Ideas, and Intersections of Culture (CAPACOA), Beyond 150 Years: An Acknowledgement of Indigenous Film (REEL Canada), Miiyuu Pimaatswin Symposium (Native Women in the Arts), Songs in the Key of Cree (Tomson Highway Retrospective), Maadaadizi/Summer Journeys (PanAm Games), and Thunderbird Marketplace (One of A Kind/Miziwe Biik Development).

Denise was founding Artistic Director & Producer of Planet IndigenUs, the Indigenous Arts Program Officer (Ontario Arts Council), and the Indigenous Dance and Music Program Officer (Canada Council for the Arts), and Co-Founder & Artistic Director of the Aboriginal Music Project. She has programmed and presented in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. She is an instructor, mentor, speaker, host, a member on numerous boards and advisories, and has partnered on many artistic projects with numerous arts and cultural organizations. Denise is the recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s Indigenous Arts Award, the SOLID Festival’s Arts Leadership Award, the Indigenous Business Leadership Award and a Fellow recipient with the ISPA International.

photo of ahdri zhina mandiela
ahdri zhina mandiela | panelist

since the late 70’s ahdri zhina mandiela has worked as a performance poet with readings, performances, lectures, and workshops around the world. she’s the founder and past artistic director of the legendary b current performing arts in toronto, canada. her work in artistic mentoring and training, and as dramaturg or director of countless play scripts, performance pieces, mainstage and touring productions has profoundly influenced new and seasoned artists across canada and beyond. 

mandiela’s current artistic push includes developing a large-scale multi-arts project (my world.a village), a new playscript called fly with factory theatre in toronto, amplifying the voices of young folx in black stage canada, developing speak! as alternative arts training for students at canada’s national theatre school, and directing theatre shows for companies in toronto and montreal.

photo of Donna-Michelle St. Bernard | photo credit: Graham Isador
Donna-Michelle St. Bernard| Panelist

Donna-Michelle St. Bernard
aka Belladonna the Blest is an emcee, playwright and agitator. Her main body of work, the 54ology, includes: Cake, Sound of the Beast, A Man A Fish, Salome’s Clothes, Gas Girls, Give It Up, The Smell of Horses, and The First Stone.

Commissioned works include Witness Shift (Obsidian Theatre, 21 Black Futures), Reaching For Starlight (Geordie Theatre), Say the Words (Wrecking Ball), The House You Build (SNTC). Opera libretti include Forbidden (Afarin Mansouri/Tapestry Opera) and Oubliette
(Ivan Barbotin/Tapestry Opera). She is co-editor with Yvette Nolan of the Playwrights Canada Press anthologies Refractions: Solo
and Refractions: Scenes, as well as editor of Indian Act: Residential School Plays.

DM is currently the emcee in residence at Theatre Passe Muraille, associate artist at lemonTree Creations, artistic director of New Harlem Productions, coordinator of the AD HOC Assembly, and of Nightwood Theatre’s Write From the Hip play development program.

She’s aight. (photo by Graham Isador)

photo of Heather Cant
Heather Cant | Panelist

Heather Cant is a multi-faceted theatre practitioner who has worked as a director, actor, playwright, dramaturg, and producer. She has experience with everything from large scale productions to interactive micro-performance and has worked at theatres across Canada, including the National Arts Centre, Western Canada Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Gateway Theatre, Persephone Theatre, Thousand Islands Playhouse, Chemainus Theatre, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, Pi Theatre, Axis Theatre, Presentation House, Upintheair Theatre, Project X Theatre, Urban Ink, and SkirtsAfire.

In addition to her freelance work, Cant has over 8 years of arts leadership experience. She served as Associate Artistic Director of Western Canada Theatre for six and a half seasons and was Artistic Producer of Project X Theatre for two seasons. She is the Artistic Producer of Phenomania Arts Society and the creator and curator of Secret City, an ongoing digital theatre project that explores the secret life of public spaces in an ever-growing list of cities. Cant recently completed her MFA in directing at the University of Calgary where she developed a practice called Process-As-Relation, an anti-imperial paradigm for centering intersectional empathy in creation — a vital lens that she brings to her new role.

Born in Moose Jaw, with family based in Saskatchewan, Cant has both family and creative ties to the community. Saskatoon audiences may remember Heather from her roles onstage in Hamlet and The Merry Wives of Windsor at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, or from her work as the assistant director on Persephone’s production of Mary Poppins.

photo of Lori Marchand
Lori Marchand | Panelist

Nommée au poste de directrice administrative du Théâtre autochtone du CNA en avril 2018, Lori Marchand est l’une des professionnelles du monde du théâtre les plus respectées au Canada. Elle a fait sa marque à titre de directrice générale du Western Canada Theatre (WCT) pendant plus de 18 ans. Membre de la Première Nation Syilx, elle joue un rôle clé dans le soutien, le développement et la production d’œuvres autochtones. Durant son mandat au WCT, elle a travaillé d’arrache-pied pour rendre le théâtre accessible, novateur, inspirant et rentable et a contribué à faire du WCT la plus importante compagnie théâtrale professionnelle de la Côte ouest de la Colombie-Britannique. Elle a aussi œuvré au Conseil des arts de la province de 2010 à 2017.

Mme Marchand a passé une partie de sa jeunesse à Ottawa alors que son regretté père, Leonard S. Marchand, siégeait à la Chambre des communes comme député de la circonscription de Kamloops-Cariboo.

Lori Marchand became the first Managing Director of the NAC’s Indigenous Theatre in April 2018. She is a nationally recognized leader within the professional theatre community who made a significant impact as executive director of Western Canada Theatre for over 18 years prior to joining the NAC. A member of the Syilx First Nation, she has played a key role in the encouragement, development and production of Indigenous work. Ms. Marchand spent much of her early years in Ottawa when her late father, the Honourable Leonard S. Marchand, was elected as Member of Parliament for the riding of Kamloops-Cariboo. During her time at Western Canada Theatre, Ms. Marchand used her considerable leadership skills to make live theatre accessible, innovative, powerful and financially sustainable, and has helped make WCT the southern Interior’s largest professional theatre company. She was also an active member of the BC Arts Council from 2010 to 2017.

DAY 05 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 08, 2021

Building Locally, Building Over

How do arts organizations remain open in a global pandemic? And how much harder is it as a local/small organization, and who or what are the major components that are helping or hindering hyperlocal theatre & arts companies that are being relegated to the background?

The stamp of approval for what is considered “professional” is reserved for those living in large urban centres, or larger institutional theatre companies. For those who are on the ground, and in their communities, or working in “non-traditional styles” the extent to which they are able to grow is a never-ending uphill battle. Most local arts organizations have to build from the ground up – everything from their company, ecology, community and recognition with only surface help from local councils whose priorities are to continue in the same cycle (or unengaged local political leaders). There is usually not enough visibility for local theatre and arts companies, and depending on the range of companies in the area, the lack of connection and amplification of each other works adversely for the collective community in the diversity of artistic work they’re being offered.

In this session we’ll be examining; what role our local leaders play in the way regional theatres and arts organizations grow, what ways we can amplify local recognition and gain sustainable support from larger organizations and exploring the unique ways that working in a regional context can bring us back to where we began – with reconnecting to our storytelling roots and redeveloping the hyperlocal to benefit all of us.

Moderator: Glodeane Brown | Panelists: Colin Wolf, Lisa O’Connell, Natasha “Courage” Bacchus, Sally Kim

photo of Glodeane Brown
Glodeane Brown | Moderator

Glodeane Brown is an arts management professional, an arts and culture blogger, and a sometimes curator. She is the General Manager at CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, a contemporary public art organization that puts on a free biennial of art in the public spaces of Waterloo Region. In 2021 CAFKA celebrates its 20th anniversary as the longest running public art forum in Ontario. Brown is the Founder and Editor of Culture Fancier, the blog she started in 2016 to educate, entertain, and inspire people. She writes about art events and regularly features local and international creative professionals. In 2020 she received an arts award from Arts Awards Waterloo Region for her contribution to the local arts community.

photo of Colin Wolf
Colin Wolf | Panelist

Colin Wolf is a Métis performer, theatre maker, and activist from the North-East of Moh’kins’tsis (Calgary), AB on Treaty 7 Territory. Wolf graduated with a BFA in Dramatic Arts from the University of Lethbridge in 2014, and then spent 5 years making theatre all over the prairies with dear friends, trusted colleagues, and complicated colonial institutions.

Wolf co-founded Thumbs Up Good Work Theatre Collective with his sister Caleigh Crow in 2013. After cutting his teeth in TYA, on regional stages, and in Indie theatre in the prairies, Wolf felt the call of the North and moved to Whitehorse in October 2019 to serve as the Artistic Director at Gwaandak Theatre Society on the Territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. Since then he has occupied his time picking berries, snowshoeing, and tending to the artistic landscape to encourage the development of thriving art makers.   

photo of Lisa O'Connell
Lisa O'Connell | Panelist

Lisa O’Connell (she/her) is the founding Artistic Director of Pat the Dog Theatre Creation, a catalyst for theatre which produces annually the PlaySmelter Northern New Works Festival (Sudbury) and Femme Folks Fest (Waterloo Region). A fierce advocate for regional theatre artists O’Connell is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently Sector Development for Regional Artists/Presenters (OAC), Digital NOW (CCA) for digital placemaking and New Conversation Award (British Council/Canadian High Commission UK) for The Women’s Room with Lyth Centre, Scotland. O’Connell divides her time between her artistic homes in Waterloo, ON and Sudbury, ON.

photo of Natasha Cecily / 'Courage' Bacchus | photo by MANA BIJANDGOODARZ
Natasha "Courage" Bacchus| Panelist

Natasha C. Bacchus is both an award-winning athlete and actor, combining her athleticism with her physicality in theatre. She is the recipient of numerous medals in track and field and Master Track Breaking Records, including medal positions in the Deaf Olympics and Pan Am Olympics as well as many other competitive sporting events.

Performance highlights include Shaw TV Talk Show Host, BC (2014) and actor in The Black Drum in Toronto, Canada and Reims, France (2019) with North American virtual tour (2020).

Natasha was selected winner of Canada Top 100 Black Women to Watch by the Canada International Black Women Event (CIBWE) 2019.

photo of Kim Sally
Sally Kim | Panelist

 Sally Kim has dedicated her career to building cultural capacity in Edmonton. In her longstanding role as Associate Executive Director of the Edmonton Arts Council, Sally has participated in and overseen the development and implementation of two separate 10-year cultural plans for Edmonton. Prior to her time at the EAC, Sally has worked to promote the Festival City brand for Edmonton Tourism; was the producer and general manager at The Works Art & Design Festival; as events coordinator for Alberta Scene at the National Arts Centre; and supported ancillary events for the Folklife Festival at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 09, 2021 – DAY 6

How Do We Begin Again?

We’ve arrived at the final day, and it’s time to put all of the insights of the previous days together. Be sure to be at the final day when we hear from returning panelists from the past sessions, and have an open discussion where we as a collective, brainstorm how we begin again.

Moderators: Glodeane Brown, Kevin Ormsby, Pam Patel | Panelists: Adam Pottle, ahdri zhina mandiela, Colin Wolf

photo of Glodeane Brown
Glodeane Brown | Moderator

Glodeane Brown is an arts management professional, an arts and culture blogger, and a sometimes curator. She is the General Manager at CAFKA – Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, a contemporary public art organization that puts on a free biennial of art in the public spaces of Waterloo Region. In 2021 CAFKA celebrates its 20th anniversary as the longest running public art forum in Ontario. Brown is the Founder and Editor of Culture Fancier, the blog she started in 2016 to educate, entertain, and inspire people. She writes about art events and regularly features local and international creative professionals. In 2020 she received an arts award from Arts Awards Waterloo Region for her contribution to the local arts community.

photo of Kevin Ormsby
Kevin Ormsby | Moderator

Artistic Director of KasheDance and Program Manager at Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO), Kevin A. Ormsby has performed with companies in Canada, USA and the Caribbean. The Canada Council for the Arts’ Victor Martyn Lynch – Staunton Award recipient and TAC Cultural Leaders Fellow, has been a Guest Artist at the University of the West Indies (Mona), Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts, University of Wisconsin – Madison and Northwestern University.

Kevin’s creative research practice through KasheDance’s technical approach to dance exists in a space of constant interrogation and navigation of Caribbean cultural nuances towards a methodology of understanding space in creation, research, and presentation.

He is on the Boards of Dance Collection Danse, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and has served on the Boards of Canadian Dance Assembly, Prologue to the Performing Arts and Nia Centre for the Arts.

photo of Adam Pottle
Adam Pottle | Panelist

Adam Pottle’s books include the award-winning novels Mantis Dreams and The Bus, the poetry collection Beautiful Mutants, and the critically acclaimed memoir Voice.

His plays include the drama Ultrasound and the groundbreaking musical fantasy The Black Drum. His essays and stories have been published in Quill and Quire and This Magazine, and his most recent short story, The Rottweiler, was shortlisted for a National Magazine Award in 2020.

He currently serves as Writer in Residence at Sheridan College and is revising his new novel and preparing a new Deaf musical for production in 2022. His children’s book Butterfly on the Wind will be released in 2023. He lives in Saskatoon.

photo of ahdri zhina mandiela
ahdri zhina mandiela | panelist

since the late 70’s ahdri zhina mandiela has worked as a performance poet with readings, performances, lectures, and workshops around the world. she’s the founder and past artistic director of the legendary b current performing arts in toronto, canada. her work in artistic mentoring and training, and as dramaturg or director of countless play scripts, performance pieces, mainstage and touring productions has profoundly influenced new and seasoned artists across canada and beyond. 

mandiela’s current artistic push includes developing a large-scale multi-arts project (my world.a village), a new playscript called fly with factory theatre in toronto, amplifying the voices of young folx in black stage canada, developing speak! as alternative arts training for students at canada’s national theatre school, and directing theatre shows for companies in toronto and montreal.

photo of Colin Wolf
Colin Wolf | Panelist

Colin Wolf is a Métis performer, theatre maker, and activist from the North-East of Moh’kins’tsis (Calgary), AB on Treaty 7 Territory. Wolf graduated with a BFA in Dramatic Arts from the University of Lethbridge in 2014, and then spent 5 years making theatre all over the prairies with dear friends, trusted colleagues, and complicated colonial institutions.

Wolf co-founded Thumbs Up Good Work Theatre Collective with his sister Caleigh Crow in 2013. After cutting his teeth in TYA, on regional stages, and in Indie theatre in the prairies, Wolf felt the call of the North and moved to Whitehorse in October 2019 to serve as the Artistic Director at Gwaandak Theatre Society on the Territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. Since then he has occupied his time picking berries, snowshoeing, and tending to the artistic landscape to encourage the development of thriving art makers.   

Other Conference Committee Members

photo of Charles C Smith
charles c. smith | conference committee

charles c. smith is a poet, playwright and essayist who has written and edited twelve books. He studied poetry and drama with William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly Magazine, at New York University and Herbert Berghof Studios. He also studied drama at the Frank Silvera’s Writers’ Workshop in Harlem. He won second prize for his play Last Days for the Desperate from Black Theatre Canada, has edited three collections of poetry (including the works of Dionne Brand, Marlene Nourbese Phillips, Claire Harris, Cyril Dabydeen, Lillian Allen, George Elliot Clarke, Clifton Joseph), has four published books of poetry and his poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Poetry Canada Review, Quill & Quire, Descant, Dandelion, Fiddlehead, Anti-Racism in Education: Missing in Action (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives), the Amethyst Review, Bywords, Canadian Ethnic Studies and others.

charles was the founder of the Black Perspectives Cultural Program in Regent Park and recently received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council’s Writers Reserve Grants Program and the Toronto Arts Council Writers Grants Program.

His first book, Partial Lives, appeared through Williams-Wallace Press and a chap book, Fleurette Africaine (wind in the leaves collective), was released in February 2012. charles is also Artistic Director of the wind in the leaves collective.

His book, Pluralism in the Arts in Canada: A Change is Gonna Come, was released in June 2012.  His new book of poetry, travelogue of the bereaved, was published in 2014 by TSAR Publications (now Mawenzi Press) and his latest non-fiction book The Dirty War: The Making of the Myth of Black Dangerousness was released in 2014 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.  His new book, destination out, will be released in 2018 by Tightrope Press.

photo of Margo Kane
Margo Kane | Conference Committee

Cree-Saulteaux performing artist, Margo Kane is the Founder and Artistic Managing Director of Full Circle: First Nations Performance. For over 40 years she has been active as an actor, performing artist and community cultural worker. Her desire to share artistic performance that has meaning for her people is the catalyst for her extensive work, travels and consultation within Indigenous communities across Canada and abroad.

Moonlodge, her acclaimed one-woman show, an Indigenous Canadian classic, toured for over 10 years nationally and internationally. The Sydney Press (AU) during The Festival of the Dreaming praised it as being ‘in the top echelon of solo performance.’ She developed and runs the annual Talking Stick Festival and an Aboriginal Ensemble Performing Arts Program in Vancouver. Presently she is the Artistic Director for the City of Vancouver’s Canada150+ Festival, The Drum is Calling.

Recent theatre credits include reprising her role in Marie Clement’s Burning Vision in Barcelona for the Grec Theatre Festival. In 2016, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the Fraser Valley, a Mayor’s Arts Award in Theatre in Vancouver and most recently a 2017 GVPTA Career Achievement Award at the annual Jessie Theatre Awards in Vancouver.