Meet our panellists for May 20!

Gathering Divergence Multi-Arts
Festival & Conference Spring 2021

 May 19 – 21, 2021 via Zoom

The Gathering Divergence Multi – Arts Festival and Conference |  What Have We Learnt: Approaches, Lessons and Future Strategies towards Anti Black Racism, Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity and Digital Support in the Arts is envisioned as a space to gather, diverge with diversity and intersect on the many aspects of the performing arts and the  Arts sector. The festival and conference invites participants from across the world and the Canadian arts sector investigating intersections of artistic / organizational practices grounded in EDIP (Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity towards Pluralism) Divergence is a critical manifestation in critical thinking.  We encourage attendees to think together.

Register today on Eventbrite!

The Gathering’s schedule is available:

DAY 2: Post Covid IBPOC Programming Implications and Financial Wellbeing in the Arts

Keynote by Mark V. Campbell

Mark V. Campbell is a creative and scholar. His research explores the relationships between Afrosonic innovations and notions of the human. As co-founder of the Bigger than Hip Hop radio show and founder at Northside Hip Hop Archive in 2010, Mark has spent more than two decades embedded in the Toronto hip hop scene as both a DJ and a Curator. He has published widely, with essays appearing in the Southern Journal of Canadian Studies, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society and the Journal of World Popular Music.  His recent books include the edited collection Still Here: Hip Hop North of the 49th Parallel and the exhibition catalogue, …Everything Remains Raw: Photographing Toronto Hip Hop Culture from Analogue to Digital. Mark is Assistant Professor of Music & Culture at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Morning Sessions:

Festival Planning / COVID19 and Programming implications on IBPOC  / Equity Seeking Artists / Arts Organizations
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has significantly impacted the performing  arts sector  across Ontario. Arts festivals have also been severely impacted . How is this impact further influencing festival  planning, programmers and the sector. In this session we will speak to the impact of the pandemic, new considerations for festival programming and the potential impact of these programming on IBPOC / Equity seeking  artists and arts organizations and what  festival  programming and curators  should  be thinking about  when addressing Anti-black and  other  aspects of  marginalization of IBPOC Arts  Workers.

– Paola Gomez Paola
– Peter Toh
– Parul Pandya
– Laura Nanni
– Pam Patel


Paola Gomez Paola is a trained human rights lawyer, community organizer, public speaker, Community Artist and a writer. A member of PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile and an advocate, Paola is involved in causes such as ending violence against women and forced migration. Paola is the co-founder and Director of Muse Arts and the Creator, Director and Producer of HAPPENING Multicultural Festival. Paola’s work with refugee and newcomer communities have been greatly recognize in Canada, where she arrived as a refugee. Paola’s community arts work focuses on community and peace building. Paola is currently a professor at Centennial College and the 2021 Toronto Public Library Artrepreneur in Residence.

Peter Toh is an entrepreneur, business consultant, and cultural connector who has worked with multiple organizations including: The Government of Canada, Ryerson University, Rogers Communications, and currently with Music Africa of Canada Inc.

Though he was always connected to the presentation of cultural events, Peter started his professional career in 2009 as an Entrepreneurship Mentor at Ryerson University. He later joined the Government of Canada as a Business Analyst and Senior Project Officer. While working with these organizations, he was also the President of Music Africa of Canada Inc. – organizers of AFROFEST, which is the largest free African festival in North America. In 2016, he received hundreds of emails from various citizens within the city of Toronto appreciating the work he led in the African and diaspora communities and encouraging him to carry on. Based on the strength of these emails, and his passion for promoting African music and culture, he decided to make his work with Music Africa his career.

Founder of Community Impact Consulting, Parul Pandya has been skillfully working in non-profit in various roles through the past decade, including as a community builder, consultant, programmer and producer. After managing in community granting for the largest government funder in Canada, she received much interest for continued collective impact by being asked to serve organizations in a variety of capacities.

Her attraction to advocacy emerged with her work as a Queer South Asian freelance writer/poet, over two decades ago.  She has a deep passion for ethics and social justice, which she teaches at Centennial College.

Her approach to exchange is a high-engagement approach, encouraging participation through self-reflection, empathy, creativity and common understanding.

Laura Nanni, Artistic & Managing Director, SummerWorks

Laura Nanni (she/her) is a curator, producer, and artist, known for her successful leadership of initiatives focused on artistic experimentation, community building, interdisciplinary collaboration, and public space. Since 2016, she has led SummerWorks through a significant period of growth and transformation. Past roles include: Programming Supervisor for Nuit Blanche Toronto; Rhubarb Festival Director for Buddies in Bad Times Theatre; as well as Curator and Program Coordinator for the HATCH mentorship and residency program at Harbourfront Centre. Her artistic projects and collaborations, often site-specific, have been presented across North America, Europe, and the UK. More info at

Pam Patel, Artistic Director, MT Space / IMPACT Festival

Pam Patel performs with numerous Canadian companies, touring nationally and internationally. A graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University’s music program, Pam specialized in new music and improvisation, establishing a career as a multidisciplinary artist. Pam is currently the Artistic Director of MT Space where she pursues her passion for centralizing racialized voices through theatre. Pam was formerly the President of local new music organization, NUMUS, and is currently the Chair of Arts Awards Waterloo Region. In line with efforts to advocate for the arts on a local level, Pam also sat on the Arts and Culture Advisory Committee for the City of Kitchener where she played an active role in voicing concerns on behalf of the larger arts community. In 2018, Pam was a recipient of Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellowship for Service Above Self in Arts and Culture, which was given at the Mayor of Waterloo’s State of the City Address. Most recently, Pam received the Emerging Leader in Performing Arts Award from Canadian arts presenting association, CAPACOA, and is a recipient of Zonta’s 2021 Women of Achievement Award.

Afternoon Session:

Strategies Towards Achieving Financial Health in the Arts
Ever thought of saving for a Rainy Day, thinking about the future, thinking about growing funds for grants? Financial precarity impacts the Arts. What does the financial health of artists, organizations, and the sector look like? How even in precarity can artists begin to think about retirement, investments and their financial wellbeing. How could an arts organization act as a supportive entity? The workshop will be both informative and explorative with a purpose to begin discussions about considering, solidifying Financial Well Being within the sector. Desired outcomes include how artists / arts organizations feel supported in thinking about  what their financial health will look like. Understanding that it’s possible to Invest with a little money” through key strategies like (Investment Accounts, Advisors, Trading Accounts, Mylo and Wealthsimple)

– Nabeel Rahim
– Billie-Jane Bolton-Rojo
– Paulina O’Kieffe-Anthony

Modearted by: Melrose Cornwall


For the past 14 years, Nabeel Rahim has been delivering value to clients as a financial advisor, helping them plan for their short term need and long term goals. He is passionately dedicated to the financial wellbeing of his clients, he monitors financial market trends to inform clients and modify accounts, as necessary.

Nabeel started his career as a financial advisor at Freedom 55 Financial where he advised both corporate and individual clients, provided investment and insurance services unique to each situation. In 2016, he founded Southmead Wealth Management Inc., where he is the Managing Partner with his strong listening and analytical skill, he customizes services to suit the need of each client. He takes special care to ensure that he understands the needs of every single client, and is always there for his clients, whether it is the business day, or after hours.

Away from the office Nabeel has a passion for classic cars and giving back to the community by volunteering with organizations that help empower children.

Billie-Jane Bolton-Rojo, a mum of three children, has a passion to equip children to develop their gifts / talents FULLY and to live out their purpose boldly.  As owner of PCAL Financial Group, Billie-Jane uses financial services to support parents in eliminating financial barriers that stagnate children’s dreams.  She helps families save for their children’s education with RESPs and explore creative strategies to fill the gap, positioning their children to hone their gifts debt-free.  Billie-Jane also challenges parents to expand their perspective beyond their own children, but multi-generationally, using personal insurance to protect and build their legacies.

Paulina O’Kieffe-Anthony is an award winning Toronto artist, producer, arts educator, cultural connector and creative consultant.

A member of the League of Poets and associate member of the PlayWriters Guild, her high level accomplishments include being featured in When Sisters Speak, co-producing the Spoken Soul Festival, and representing Toronto as a 2x national team finalist in the Canadian Festival Of Spoken Word. In 2019 she was a TEDx speaker and in 2020 an excerpt of her play How Jab Jab Saved the Pretty Mas was featured as part of Piece of Mine’s Black Women in Theatre Festival. Paulina’s work has been featured in media on Bell Fibe TV, Huffington Post Canada, AfroGlobal TV, Metro Morning and CBC Morning and published in 3 anthologies and 1 book. Paulina was recognized as one of 150 Black Women Making Herstory (as featured on CBC) for her contribution to building the arts scene in Toronto.

Melrose Cornwall is a Toronto-based Financial Services Professional with nearly ten years of experience in the financial sector. While Melrose ended his studies in Aviation in 2011, he soon discovered his passion for helping the children in his community, particularly in regards to financial literacy. Melrose volunteers as the Chairperson of an Employee Resource Group at his company that aims to promote diversity and inclusiveness of the Black and Hispanic minority groups. His goal is to arm the group members with financial literacy education, by connecting them to both finance-based events and culturally relevant courses, classes and networking events throughout the city. He does so with the hopes that the learnings are passed down to members’ children and the overall community.

CPAMO Publication Draft Review: 

Living in the Skin, I am In: Experiential Learnings, Approaches and Considerations towards Anti-Black Racism in the Arts, continues the conversation on anti-black racism in the arts, it’s impact on black artist’s use of digital technology and the implications one’s artistic / organizational practices. The featuring articles previously published or written along with articles from invited contributors working in all performing arts disciplines including visual arts,  digital / media arts and arts administration. Offering resources, toolkits and an annotated bibliography readers will find value in the international, national and local scope of its contents.

– Kevin A. Ormsby
– Régine Cadet
– Brainerd Blyden-Taylor
– Akua  Delfish
– Dwayne Morgan


Kevin A. Ormsby
Program Manager of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO), Kevin is also the Artistic Director of KasheDance, movement coach and Arts Marketing Consultant. The Ontario Arts Council’s Chalmers Fellowship recipient (2017), KM Hunter Dance Award Nominee (2016), Toronto Arts Council’s Cultural Leaders Lab Fellow (2015) and The Canada Council for the Arts’ Victor Martyn Lynch – Staunton Award 2014 recipient for outstanding achievement by a mid career artist, he has many interests in the creative practice and administration in dance. He has honed his passion for dance, advocacy, writing and education while performing with various companies and projects in Canada, the Caribbean and the United States.

Régine Cadet has been the Managing Director at Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM) for the past 7 years. She came to TPM after twelve years with MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels), a multidisciplinary incubator for the development of intercultural art, where she held the position of Artistic and Executive Director. Régine is currently the Chair of the TAPA (Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts) board of directors and she is the cofounder of EKSPRESYON a Montreal based dance company focusing on Haitian dance.

Brainerd Blyden-Taylor is the Founder, Artistic Director and conductor of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada’s first professional chamber choir dedicated to the creation and performance of Afrocentric music of all styles. Born in Trinidad & Tobago, Mr. Blyden-Taylor immigrated to Canada in 1973. He founded The Chorale in 1998, in response to a musical void in Canada; there had never before been a professional ensemble dedicated to the dissemination of Afrocentric choral music. The response that The Chorale has received in Canada and the United States since its inception has certainly given credence to Mr. Blyden-Taylor’s vision.

Mr. Blyden-Taylor has conducted several university, youth and concert choirs, most notably completing a 25year tenure with The Orpheus Choir of Toronto. In addition he works frequently as a guest conductor, having appeared with organizations such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Hannaford Street Silver Band, Nova Scotia Youth Choir, Ontario Youth Choir, Central Manitoba Youth Choir and the New Brunswick Choral Federation Youth Sing. He has also worked as artistic director and advisor for the Algoma Festival Choir, the Nova Scotia Mass Choir and the Chatham-Kent Roots Festival.

Akua Delfish is the Co-Founder of D’LYFE Dance Company & GoLEFT Creatives. She holds an M.A. in Communication, Culture, and Technology and an Honours B.A. in Fine Arts Cultural Studies. Akua has been involved in the arts for over 32 years. Her dance specialty is Afro-Caribbean folk, trained under the tutelage Scarborough Caribbean Youth Dance Ensemble and Caribbean Dance Theatre. She is currently a senior member of La’Riatsila Dance Theatre. In 2006, Akua received a special 25th Anniversary of Independence award from the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda’s for her contribution to arts in the Caribbean community.  In other capacities, Akua is a Communications Manager in the federal Public Service and an Event Production Manager with CaribbeanTales Media Group.

Dwayne Morgan began his career in the spoken word in 1993. Morgan is the author of 13 published and 9 audio collections his work. Morgan is a 2016 finalist for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a 2013 inductee into the Scarborough Walk of Fame.

Register today on Eventbrite!

Accessibility: all sessions will be via Zoom. We will have live transcribed available for all panels (except the breakrooms section). ASL will be provided for the Digital Session on May 21. Please let us know if you have any questions or accessibility needs.

The Gathering Divergence is in partnership with CanAsian Dance Festival, Mass Culture and ArtofFestivals.