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Participants
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Allison Andrachuk

Director & CEO
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
Director & CEO
Director and CEO of the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art since 2018, Allison has over 15 years of involvement in not-for-profit organizations as well as 18 years in the cultural sector. She was formerly the Director of Tides Canada Initiatives where she was responsible for program strategy and operational oversight of a range of Indigenous, environmental and social programs across Canada. Prior to her tenure at Tides Canada, Allison was Manager of Operations and Public Programs at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver. She has also served on numerous panels, juries, and steering committees in the cultural and philanthropic sectors.

Andrea Simpson-Fowler

Executive Director
The Heart of Riverdale
The Heart of Riverdale
Executive Director
Long time Yukoner and owner of the Yukon’s only commercial dance school, Leaping Feats, Andrea’s artistic direction in dance has forged a core path of providing dance education, pre-professional, and professional performance opportunities for generations of dancers, both young and old in multiple dance styles. She has been choreographing professionally for over 20 years since her return home from the Simon Fraser School for Contemporary Arts, where she studied contemporary dance. In 2013 Andrea founded Borealis Soul, in order to realize her vision of having a resident professional company in the Yukon. Andrea has led the artists in Borealis Soul to create effective works and earn the support of audiences throughout Canada, creating three full-length, multi-genre theatre productions. Andrea choreographs, directs, and curates works created for each major production in the Borealis Soul repertoire. In addition to her work as artistic lead for Borealis Soul, Andrea continues to push the boundaries of possibility for young northern artists, by securing funding across genres for arts education through the not for profit organization she founded, The Heart of Riverdale.

Azarin Sohrabkhani

Industry Director
Canadian Film Institute
Canadian Film Institute
Industry Director
Azarin Sohrabkhani is an Ontario-based arts and culture management professional with 15 years of operations and leadership experience in the Canadian and international media industries. She is currently Director of Industry at the Canadian Film Institute, which hosts one of the world’s foremost animation events, the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) and the new International Film Festival of Ottawa (IFFO). Azarin programs and manages the 3-day industry event The Animation Conference, the Animation Exposé Professional Development Program and the Indie Talks series at the OIAF, as well as the newly launched IFFO Screen Summit. She is also the lead on all corporate partnerships and development strategies for the organization. Azarin sits on the Advisory Board of Algonquin College’s Animation Program, was a Co-Founder of Ottawa’s DIY music festival, Ottawa Explosion Weekend and was a Series Producer on 'The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia'

Kelly Read

Executive Producer
Why Not Theatre
Why Not Theatre
Executive Producer
Kelly Read is a theatre facilitator, currently the Executive Producer at Why Not Theatre, based in Toronto. She has produced and presented sold-out and award-winning shows around the world, as well as helped to develop and execute critical company strategy as a part of Why Not’s desire to challenge the status quo in their sector, while leading the company through a period of exponential growth over the last five years. Previously, Kelly worked with Soulpepper Theatre, both as Academy Producer and Associate Technical Director. She has extensive experience as a production craftsperson, working with dozens of companies in many capacities. She helped to found The Storefront Theatre, and received a Harold Award for her contributions to the theatre community. Kelly holds a B.FA in Performance Production from Ryerson University, completed the Soulpepper Academy, and the CORe Fundamentals of Business program through HBX Harvard Business School.

Melanie Kjorlien

Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Engagement
Glenbow Museum
Glenbow Museum
Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Engagement
Melanie Kjorlien is the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Engagement for the Glenbow Museum. She was promoted to COO in January of 2020; she has been VP of Engagement at Glenbow for 10 years. Melanie is responsible for Glenbow’s museum operations, including collection development and oversight, exhibition and educational programming, marketing and communications. She has developed and led strategies that have improved organizational relevance and program diversity, resulting in increased attendance and earned revenue. Throughout her career, Melanie has been motivated by her genuine passion for art and culture and the value it brings to our communities. Prior to joining Glenbow she was an independent consultant, providing project management, content development, writing and editing services for various educational, arts and non-profit organizations, including the Glenbow, the Whyte Museum, YouthLink Calgary, MindFuel, Kids Help Phone, the Art Gallery of Calgary and Alberta Education. Melanie is an award-winning writer and editor and has edited several publications on various aspects of Canadian art history. Her expertise and commitment to the arts and museum sector is demonstrated through her previous involvement with several boards, including the Exposure Photography Festival and the Alberta Museums Association.

Naomi Johnson

Executive Director (June 2020)
imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts
imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts
Executive Director (June 2020)
Naomi Johnson is a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Bear clan from Six Nations. Who has been involved in the arts as a curator, arts administrator, professional artist, and community arts facilitator. Naomi has a BFA hons, Visual Arts from York University and a diploma in Cultural Resource Management from the University of Victoria. From 2013 - 2017, Naomi served as Artistic Director and then in 2018 as Co-Executive Director of the Woodland Cultural Centre curating and programming exhibitions, festivals and performance art events annually. In June 2019 Naomi accepted a position as Associate Director with imagineNATIVE, and in June 2020 she will assume the role of Executive Director. She looks forward to continuing her work supporting Indigenous talent within the film and media arts industry.

Natalia Lebedinskaia

Program Director
Vancouver Biennale
Vancouver Biennale
Program Director
Natalia Lebedinskaia is currently the Program Director at the Vancouver Biennale, a non-profit organization that brings iconic international public art to Vancouver. Drawing on over ten years of increasingly senior curatorial and cultural leadership experience across Canada, and an MA in Art History from Concordia University, she incorporates her skills and sensibility into nurturing communities–both ephemeral and lasting. Her leadership practice is centered on relational collaboration and organizational development philosophy. Before moving to Vancouver in 2019, Natalia was the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, and was one of seven curators for LandMarks 2017, a national series of contemporary art commissions marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation in Canada's National Parks. Throughout her life and career, she has lived and worked in Halifax (NS), Montreal (QC), Banff (AB), Brandon (MB), Churchill (MB), and now resides in Vancouver (BC). She moved from Moscow, Russia as a child, and comes from a family of writers, poets, and mathematicians.

Rohit Chokhani

Executive Director
Vancouver Fringe Festival
Vancouver Fringe Festival
Executive Director
Rohit Chokhani is the incoming Executive Director for the Vancouver Fringe Festival. He is a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award-winning arts producer, Director and a cultural leader. Rohit was awarded the prestigious Vancouver NOW Representation and Inclusion Award in 2018. He is also the recipient of the Jessie Richardson Theatre Award in the Large Theatre Category for Significant Artistic Achievement (2017) and the recipient of the Shiamak Vancouver Community Award (by Bollywood star/choreographer Shiamak Davar) in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of Entertainment and Theatre Arts (2017). Chokhani founded Diwali in B.C.,Project SAT (South Asian Theatre), co-created the Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts, was a Producer-in-Residence at the National Arts Centre - English Theatre, and held the position of General Manager for Touchstone Theatre & urban ink productions. Chokhani’s reimagination of Anosh Irani’s Bombay Black - was voted one of the top 20 shows on Vancouver stages in 2017, and won the Pick of the Fringe Award at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Rohit Co-Created All's Well That End's Well in 2019 for Bard on the Beach Festival which had its sold out run and was voted amongst the top 10 shows on Vancouver stages in 2019. Rohit is one of the most sought-after multicultural voices in Canada and internationally. He grew up in Bombay (Mumbai), home to Indian subcontinent’s vibrant performing arts industry. He comes from the Maratha and Marwari lineage of India, which is historically rooted in oral traditions and art forms. His work often provides a platform for historically marginalized artists within the mainstream through community driven objectives. Rohit is highly passionate about making performing arts equitable and sustainable by providing representation for the unrepresented.

Tara Birtwhistle

Associate Artistic Director
Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Associate Artistic Director
Tara Birtwhistle graduated from the Professional Division of the RWB School in 1991 and immediately joined the RWB as a corps de ballet member. In 1995, she was promoted to soloist and in 2000 became a principal dancer. Through-out Birtwhistle’s twenty-year stage career she danced many roles, some of her favorites include Lucy in Mark Godden’s Dracula, Rita Joe in Vesak’s The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, The Cowgirl in Agnes de Mille’s Rodeo, Myrtha in Giselle and Juliet in Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo & Juliet. She has been lauded for her soloist performances in Mauricio Wainrot’s smash sensation Carmina Burana. Birtwhistle also left her mark as the evil yet charismatic Stepmother in Val Caniparoli’s, A Cinderella Story. Among the many accolades behind her name, Birtwhistle was designated “One of 100 Young Canadians to Watch in the New Millennium” in Maclean’s magazine, she has received the Golden Jubilee Medal and Diamond Jubilee Medal from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in recognition for her stage career and her contribution to dance in Canada. Birtwhistle was also nominated for a Gemini Award for her stunning performance in Guy Maddin’s Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary, a screen adaptation of the ballet. Since retiring from the stage, Birtwhistle has been an integral part of the RWB’s artistic team. As Ballet Master for 11 years, she has overseen many RWB productions at home and on tour. In 2017 she curated Our Story the Company’s tribute to Canadian choreographers in celebration of Canada’s 150th. At the end of the RWB’s 2017-18 season, Birtwhistle was appointed Associate Artistic Director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. As Associate Artistic Director, Birtwhistle is a member of the senior leadership team of the organization, participating in strategic planning and serving as a key liaison with the Board of Directors. In collaboration with Artistic Director and CEO, Andre Lewis, Birtwhistle is responsible for casting, scheduling and overall management of the artistic team. She is also a significant contributor to the development and marketing functions, building connections between the RWB and its donors, supporters and patrons. Of particular note is her work as the artistic lead on all elements of the RWB’s visual brand, including directing the stunning video that launched the Company’s 80th Anniversary season.

Umair Jaffar

Executive Director
Small World Music
Small World Music
Executive Director
Umair Jaffar is the Executive Director of Small World Music, one of Toronto’s pioneering and most significant presenters of culturally-diverse music. Since arriving in Toronto in 2014, he has worked in curatorial and management roles at major cultural institutions including the Aga Khan Museum and Harbourfront Centre. In 2017, recognizing his contributions to Toronto’s arts sector, he received the Cultural Leaders Lab fellowship from the Toronto Arts Council and Banff Centre. Prior to immigrating, he was the CEO & Artistic Director for IPAC (Institute for Preservation of Art and Culture), a Pakistan-based non-profit social enterprise that focused on developing sustainable solutions for preserving and promoting indigenous and traditional performing arts. Umair also serves as a board member for several non-profit art organizations including CAPACOA (Canadian Arts Presenting Association), North York Arts and Musiconnect Asia. He has an MBA from University of Adelaide, Australia and a MSc in Cultural Anthropology from University of Oxford, UK.
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