Meet our panellists for May 21, 2021!

A background with abstract shapes with grey rectangular in the middle with text Gathering Divergence Multi-Arts Festival & Conference Spring 2021  May 19 – 21, 2021 via Zoom

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 3: Understanding Digital Impact and Anti-Black Racism in the Arts

Morning Sessions:

Digital Session

CPAMO has been conducting research, focus groups, workshops, surveys and in partnership with Tangled Arts, ArtsPond, Culture Brew,  the National Ballet of Canada and Canadian Opera Company in addressing Digital Literacy and Education for IBPOC Artists and Arts Organizations. The Digital Report session will be led by our Digital Consultants highlighting both the findings and exploration of interesting ways to think about engaging with and implementing strategies across digital platforms.

– Sean Lee
– Victoria Anne Warner
– Amy Mushinski
– Christopher Sonnemann
– Kelly Lynne Ashton
– Perry Voulgaris


Sean Lee is an artist and curator exploring the notion of disability art and accessibility as the last avant-garde. His methodology reframes embodied difference as a means to resist traditional aesthetic idealities. Orienting towards a “crip horizon”, Sean gestures towards the transformative possibilities of a world that desires the way disability can disrupt.

Sean holds a B.A. in Arts Management and Studio from the University of Toronto, Scarborough and is currently the Director of Programming at Tangled Art + Disability. Previous to this role, he was Tangled’s inaugural Curator in Residence (2016) as well as Tangled’s Gallery Manager (2017). Sean was involved with the launch of Tangled Art Gallery, and has been integral to countless exhibitions and public engagements throughout his tenure at Tangled Art + Disability.

In addition to his position at Tangled, Sean is an independent curator, lecturer, and advisor, adding his insights and perspectives to conversations surrounding Disability Arts across Canada and the United States. Sean currently sits on the board of CARFAC Ontario, Creative Users Projects and is a member of the Ontario Art Council’s Deaf and Disability Advisory Committee and Toronto Art Council’s Visual and Media Arts Committee.

Victoria Anne Warner (Research Coordinator) has been working in Disability Advocacy and Justice for over a decade. She discovered her passion for analysing, taking apart, and rebuilding access policies in the sci-fi convention world, and hasn’t stopped since. She has worked with CUPE Ontario as the first Equity Representative for Workers with Disabilities, and her research led to the creation of new courses for union members across Canada on disability and ableism. She is currently interested in how to disrupt traditional power structures, and how she can implement those values in her work while making sure that previously unheard voices are not only brought to the table but valued.

Amy Mushinski joined the Canadian Opera Company as Public Affairs Manager in August 2005, and in 2017 assumed her current role of Associate Director, Public Affairs. She was previously with the Dominion Institute (Historica Canada), a small not-for-profit organization based in Toronto, dedicated to creating active and informed citizens through greater knowledge and appreciation of the Canadian story. Her responsibilities with the COC include advocacy, grant writing, community and sector relations, and liaising with the three levels of government supporting the company. Miss Mushinski is an active board member of and the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts. She serves as Chair of TAPA’s advocacy committee, leading municipal advocacy efforts for the arts and culture sector in Toronto. After graduating from York University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Miss Mushinski worked for the Government of Ontario.

Christopher Sonnemann is the Director of Technology for The National Ballet of Canada. An experienced IT Professional with 17 years’ experience in Technology.
Christopher spent 10 years at the Canadian Football League, helping the league to transition to a new digital age. Developing custom software for player management and statistics collection to improve the in-game and online experience. Supporting and promoting the adoption of social media tools to facilitate increased fan engagement and assisting in the project management and development of infrastructure to support an improved website presence.

For the past 5.5 years Christopher has been helping the National Ballet of Canada adopt a stronger, more sophisticated, technology footprint. Providing improved infrastructure and championing the adoption of cloud technologies to reduce costs while providing better tools and access to staff.

Christopher is focused on developing custom software solutions to solve challenges unique to the Ballet, promoting the adoption of streaming technologies to increase exposure of the National Ballet of Canada and developing partnerships with peer Arts organizations to help solve common issues within the industry.

Kelly Lynne Ashton has over twenty-five years of experience on the business side of Canadian film, television and digital media. She has worked as an entertainment lawyer both in-house in several of Canada’s top television production companies and with her own practice representing producers, talent and broadcasters, produced children’s digital media, and worked in policy and government relations in film, television and digital media. She now assists cultural industry clients with research projects, policy and strategy development, government relations, government and government agency submissions, conference programming, project evaluations and consulting on diversity and inclusion initiatives. She also sits on the Program Advisory Committee for Centennial College’s Interactive Digital Media post-graduate program, writes a blog where she de-mystify Canadian media policy and regularly writes “The Wonk Report” for

Perry Voulgaris has 30 years experience in arts, media, entertainment and digital leading organizations in the creation and delivery of compelling and innovative projects. 20 years Board experience with nonprofits, committees, collectives, movements and community organizations.

Afternoon Session:

And…The Beat Goes On: One Desired Outcome, Multiple Ways of Addressing Anti-Black Racism in the Arts.
This session will feature panelists who will talk about current efforts to pushing the agenda on anti-black racism in the arts.  At this session, CPAMO will also release its report  entitled “Anti-Black Racism in the Arts: A Discussion Document’ which was presented in December to the Toronto Mayor’s Roundtable on Anti-Black Racism in the Arts. CPAMO will also discuss its upcoming education/training/organizational change project on this topic.

– Timaj Garad
– Sedina Fiati
– Marguerite Pigott
– Cheryl Blackman
– Ian Andre Espinet
– Khalidah Bello


Timaj Garad is the Outreach and Access Program Manager at Toronto Arts Council (TAC). She is leading the development of TAC’s new Black arts funding program, in addition to supporting outreach activities and improving accessibility across the organization.  For the past 15 years, Timaj has been performing, facilitating workshops, and creating events as a spoken word artist and singer-songwriter, alongside her community work supporting Black artists, newcomers, youth, and persons with disabilities. Timaj is deeply passionate about creating greater access to the arts and amplifying artists in Toronto’s underserved communities.

Sedina Fiati is a Toronto based performer, producer, director, creator and activist for stage and screen. Proudly Black and queer, Sedina is deeply invested in artistic work that explores the intersection between art and activism, either in form or structure or ideally both.

Sedina is currently Artist-Activist in Residence at Nightwood Theatre and proud founding member of the Black Pledge Collective. Sedina was the co-chair of ACTRA Toronto’s Diversity Committee and 2nd VP of council for Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. Upcoming projects: Switching Queen(s) (devised street performance), Last Dance (a web series).

Marguerite Pigott is Film Commissioner and Director of Entertainment Industries for the City of Toronto, responsible for the growth and support of the screen content production, music, interactive digital media and tourism industries in the City of Toronto.   Previously, Marguerite was Vice President of Outreach and Strategic Initiatives for the Canadian Media Producers Association, where she led the CMPA’s efforts to future-proof Canadian independent production companies, and for whom she also produced the highly respected media conference Prime Time.   Concurrently, she served as Vice Chair of Ontario Creates.  Prior to the CMPA, Marguerite was Head of Creative Development for the national, pay television broadcaster Super Channel, where she oversaw the pre-licencing of series and features, and led the team that invested Super Channel’s development fund.  Previously, Marguerite served as Vice President of Development and Production for Odeon Films, An Alliance Atlantis Company, where she Executive Produced many feature films, including Fubar, Saint Ralph, and waydowntown.  For the Toronto International Film Festival, Marguerite programmed the Canadian selection for the 2006 and 2007 festivals.

Cheryl Blackman is the Acting General Manager, Economic Development and Culture with the City of Toronto. She is responsible for leading Toronto’s efforts to create arts and culture plans, roadmaps for cultural vitality, strengthening arts spending and for launching a new era of collaboration among arts and culture groups across the City. She is also playing a key role in efforts to attract international film and television productions and studio investments to Toronto. Prior to her role as Acting General Manager at the City she was Director of Museums and Heritage Services where she was responsible for the ten city-owned and operated historical museums, the City collection of historical objects, archaeological specimens, moveable fine art and an extensive portfolio of heritage buildings. Cheryl also served as the Assistant Vice-President of Audience Development at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), and is a Fellow of Inclusion and Philanthropy from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). She is the Chair of the Board at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery.

Ian Andre Espinet is a Toronto born, serial entrepreneur, creative and lifelong community advocate.A business professional with over 2 1/2 decades of combined expertise in various areas of business, he is a proficient marketer, graphic designer & creative director, social media specialist, entertainment impresario, public speaker, moderator and community servant. He is a trusted and respected member of the Canadian music & entertainment sectors.

He frequently volunteers and speaks to children/youth on entrepreneurship; is currently a member of the Ontario Creates Industry Advisory Committee (IAC), the programming and advocacy committees of ADVANCE (Canada’s Black Music Collective), and as a FACTOR Hip Hop and R&B Juror for the last 5 sessions. He is the co-creator of the Breaking Down Racial Barriers Roundtable on anti-Black racism in the Canadian music industry, and is currently writing an adjacent report presented by CIMA which will be supported by many prominent organizations and corporations in the industry.

He has served on the board of CHRY/VIBE 105.5fm (4 years) and Caras’ JUNO hip hop jury, and is the recipient of the Government of Canada’s “150 Neighbours” CityBuilder Award (for service to Scarborough) and a City of Toronto Volunteer & Community Service Award.

Khalidah Bello, BA, MSc (Global Health), Founder & CEO
Ògo Tàwa Inc. is a non-profit company led by its CEO and founder, Khalidah Bello, a creative entrepreneur and cultural producer of Yoruba Nigerian Canadian  heritage. Khalidah holds Harvard and University of Toronto degrees in Professional  Writing; Communications, Culture and Information Technology, as well as Global  Health. She also has a diploma from Sheridan College in Digital Communications and  Culinary Arts Certificates from George Brown College.

Khalidah possesses over 15 years of experience in creating programming that shares  the creative talents of Black communities with the North American public in the areas  of visual arts, fashion, live music performance, dance, and theatre. Khalidah has  provided such programming to institutions like University of Toronto, Harvard, Albion  Centre, AfriCan Theatre Ensemble and the YMCA to name a few. As early as  17, Khalidah was identified and featured on Canada’s YTV “To the Max” national  television program highlighting youth achievement, as a young community organizer  of note, courageously convening marginalized a and celebrity creatives to show the enthralling importance of Black contributions to society through the arts. She  continues to do so to date. Khalidah is down-right obsessed with the under-expressed  and mind-boggling creative talents of the Black community. Her goal is to discover  and initiate as many economically rewarding outlets for the Black community’s  creative talents as possible.

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. 

Meet our artists!

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:

Meet our artists!

Caribbean Canadian Artistic Stars Inc. (CCAS Inc.) on Wednesday, May 19 at 1:10pm:

Caribbean Canadian Artistic Stars Inc. (CCAS Inc.) a Non-profit Organization located in Toronto was formed 10 years ago with a mixture of Canadian diversity and afro Caribbean culture composed with Art, dance, recreation. Our goal is “Dance to Inspire” and we aim to do that one performance at a time. CCAS has performed for Afrofest,SisterFest, RastaFest, TeenFest, YorkU, City Hall, TDSB, St. Lucia Toronto Association, Jamaican Canadian Association, Caribana, Hamilton Buskerfest, Jamaica Day, Napanee Festival of Light, Freedom Friday’s and many others including hosting Governor General St. Lucia platforms. We have shared our passion for the Art at our local Seniors home, schools, community, expressing our ability to interact with diverse populations. We offer free programming and services through mentorship, dance and recreation, wellness, conflict resolution, newcomer integration, families support, back to school packs, christmas parties/giftings, workshops (masquerade/mask/costume making), Caribana etc. CCAS Inc, Won the 2015 Stomp Competition Champion ” Beginners Level”, CCAS is the official ambassador for the St. Lucia cultural Masquerade in Canada.

Neetika on Wednesday, May 19 at 3:20pm:

Neetika is a GTA-based dance artist who started performing at the age of ten. Born in Libya to Indian parents, today she actively works as a Kathak performer, creator, choreographer, arts manager, and culture & diversity advocate. In 2019, with the support of ArtReach Toronto she launched a youth empowering choreography facilitation program Katha-Ras Dance Lab for underrepresented women dancers of color in Toronto. The 2020 digital edition of Katha-Ras Dance Lab was supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. Her community focussed work has also been supported by the Laidlaw Foundation in the past. Neetika has received professional training in Indian classical dance form Kathak from Toronto based Gurus Hemant & Vaishali Panwar. Creatively, Neetika has keen interest in exploring various layers of the traditional Kathak repertoire and presenting them with new and relevant interpretations through research, creation and performance. She has worked with/for eminent organizations like Fall for Dance North, Moonhorse Dance Theatre, Muse Arts, Theatre Oculus, North York Arts, Akumal Arts Festival, the Tortuga Escondida Residency Centre, and Nia Centre for the Arts. With a passion for arts, she hopes to bring positive social change & promote inclusivity in the dance industry through her creative voice and arts management

Here and Now Emergence Festival performence on Wednesday, May 19 at 3:40pm:

Here & Now Kensington Market is a transmedia storytelling project. This project is hosted on a choose your own adventure website created by Marie Sotto and Cathleen Calica of 187 Augusta Community Space in Kensington Market.

Here & Now is a public art project created by Marie Sotto and Cathleen Calica in collaboration with Ukai Projects funded by the Toronto Arts Council. This project was created as a response to the rapid gentrification and redevelopment we not only witness, but experience first hand as artists who live and work in the Market. Kensington is our home. The impacts of COVID-19 have left many local businesses and residents struggling to survive.

Through this project we hope to document and preserve Kensington’s vibrant culture, history and memory and spirit. Here & Now is a storytelling project using integrative media, it features audio and video recordings of Kensington community members, an interactive map and an installation piece. This project is for Kensington Market and a dream for a future beyond.

Marie Sotto is a Filipinx futurist, art witch, illustrator and storyteller.

Marie graduated with a degree in International Development Studies from York University in 2011 and since then gained ten years of experience in arts leadership, cultural strategy and program development in community arts.  As an independent artist, Marie has previously exhibited work at  Artscape Youngplace, The Gladstone Hotel and The Harbourfront Center. Last year Marie completed arts residencies
with Ukai Projects and Virtual Grounds. | Instagram: @sotto_premium

Leslie Roach on Thursday, May 20 at 12:40pm:

Leslie Roach is a poet and lawyer. Her first book, Finish this Sentence, was recently published by Mawenzi House. She was born & raised in Montreal.

Leslie has lived in many countries and worked for the United Nations for several years. She is currently based in Ottawa, where she works for the Supreme Court of Canada.

Finish this Sentence is about racism, rebellion, empowerment and self-care. Leslie’s next book will focus on presence, purpose and following one’s bliss and intuition.

Roger Sinha at Thursday, May 20 at 2:30pm:

Roger Sinha is the artistic director and choreographer for Sinha Danse, which he founded in 1991. Winner of the 2018 Charles-Biddle Award, and the 2016 Cultural Diversity Prize in Dance (Prix de la danse de Montréal), his work is unquestionably distinctive and recognized worldwide. His large repertory includes over 50 creations, touring Canada wide and overseas.
Born in London, of Armenian and Indian parents, he moved to Saskatoon at eight where his personal experiences of identity and diversity became the main inspiration for his choreography. His contemporary dance creations unite Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance, ballet, martial arts and the use of technology. 2021 marks 30 years Going Beyond Borders and Boundaries with our creations!

Twin Flames on Thursday, May 20 at 3:50pm:

Multi-Award-Winning chart-topping Canadian Indigenous Duo Twin Flames are a husband-wife duo made up of Jaaji, (Inuk and Mohawk) from Nunavik and Chelsey June, métis (Algonquin Cree). Building bridges across cultures, continents, and styles, Twin Flames, brings together a richness of personal history and musical experience. Their songs tell stories of courage and survival written in English, Inuttitut, and French. Honouring their ancestor’s history and representing their Indigenous backgrounds.

Twin Flames have released three full-length albums and have been nominated for 25 Music awards both Nationally and abroad — including 2 Canadian Folk Music Award wins, and 3 Native American Music Award wins — Two number 1 Hits on the Indigenous Music Countdown’s Top 40. They have played more than 1000+ shows throughout Canada, Greenland, the United States, Australia and France. Twin Flames wrote Human the official song for UNESCO to celebrate 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages. | |

Ravyn Wngz on Thursday May 20 at 4:10pm:

Ravyn Wngz “The Black Widow of Burlesque ” is a Tanzanian, Bermudian, Mohawk, 2Spirit, empowerment movement storyteller of Trans experience. An abolitionist, and Black Renaissance Artivist. Her work is rooted in Black liberation and Indigenous Resurgence. She has a vision to create work/art/conversations that open minds, expand truths and deepen intellectual commitments into lived practices.  Her commitment is to elevate our collective global humanity.  Ravyn is a co-founder of ILL NANA/DiverseCity Dance Company. A Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter Canada, A steering committee member of Black Lives Matter Toronto, A Canadian Best Selling Author and Co-Curator of The Wildseed Black Arts Fellowhip.

She is a graduate of the School Of Toronto Dance Theatre, Has trained with American Ballet Theatre, United Dance Productions(Bermuda), Uuniversity Of The ARTS Philadelphia, and Duke Ellington Performing Arts High School. She has performed and collaborated with Keith Hennesy(Guggenheim Fellowship Recipient) InDance, Xing Dance Theatre, Earth In Motion, Ballet Creole, Ontario Ballet Theatre, Brandy Leary, Ame Henderson, Jefferson Pinder(Chicago), Victoria Mata and d’bi. young anitafrica (Watah Theatre) recently took part in the Luminato Festival Black Arts Residency.  She recently premiered as lead Actor, in Obsidian Theatre and CBC Gem’s 21 Black futures.

Krystal Jagoo, Reading and Social Justice Writing Workshop on Friday May 21 at 12:20pm:

Krystal Kavita Jagoo graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Windsor. Jagoo has taught “Justice and the Poor: Issues of Race, Class, and Gender” at Nipissing University, continues to facilitate Sustainable Resistance for BIPOC Folx workshops and will teach the Writing for Social Change course at the Loft Literary Center. Her articles have been featured in Huffington Post, Healthline, and Canadaland. Her essay, “Inclusive Reproductive Justice,” was published in Volume 2 of the Reproductive Justice Briefing Book: A Primer on Reproductive Justice and Social Change. Her visual art, “University Ableism Bingo” was featured in Pandemic: A Feminist Response, and the zine, CRIP COLLAB. Her work was selected for Scarborough Arts’ 35th Annual Juried Exhibition: Beloved Community and her essay was published in Radical: An Unapologetic Anthology by Women & Gender Nonconforming Storytellers of Color.

Winnie Ho on Friday, May 21 at 12:20pm:

Winnie Ho is a dance performance artist who was born in Hong Kong, immigrated to Canada at the age of eight and currently living in Montreal. Winnie’s on-going interests/research include working with her Asian diaspora/queer identities, exploring notions of pleasure/play and subverting the performative gaze. She was the recipient of the 2017 Danceweb Scholarship Program at Impulstanz Festival in Vienna and has performed for Shake It Collaborations in Sweden, Chih-Chien Wang at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin and Clary Furey in Cosmic Love in Montreal. Her installations and performances have been presented at Ponderosa Festival in Stolzenhagan, Germany, SpringBoard Summer Series in Calgary, MIX Festival in New York City, Out There Festival in Portugal, Articule Gallery and La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse in Montreal. Furthermore, Winnie recently collaborated with Angie Cheng and Chi Long in Seeds cast afar from our roots, an installation-performance and research in Asian diaspora, which premiered at the MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) in May, 2019. Her latest solo work aWokening was commissioned  by the CanAsian Dance Festival and Festival Accés Asie and presented by Tangente Danse in January, 2021.

Karimah Zakia Issa on Friday, May 21 at 12:50pm:

Karimah Zakia Issa is an emerging director and passionate storyteller based in Toronto, ON. She claims she could direct paint drying and it would have a queer, black woman hue to it. Her most recent project, LANES ‘20 (for the City of Toronto) is an educational, narrative dance piece that explores responsibility and participation in present day social justice movements. In development is ACE, a narrated short film based on three short stories written by Ace Clamber about intimate day-to-day moments that make up his life as a trans-man. During lockdown she has also directed, shot and edited a visual album for STORRY, that is being released in stages.

Karimah has independently produced and co-produced short films including Q&A (Kingston Canadian FF ‘19, CBC’s Short Film Face Off Finalist) and Kitty’s Naughty Knickers (DGC Best Short Film Nomination ‘19, Holly Shorts FF ‘19, Miami FF ‘20).

Oluseye on Friday. May 21 at 3:20pm:

Oluseye is a Nigerian-Canadian artist. His work explores the magnitude and polyvocality of Blackness and the ways in which it moves across space, place, and time, shaping and shifting the world. Centering Yoruba cultural references in an homage to his heritage, he bends the ancestral with the contemporary and rejects the binary distinction between the traditional and the modern; the physical and the spiritual; the past and the future; what is new and what is old. Imbuing the everyday with the mythic, his work reinforces African rituals and philosophies as living, complex, and valid traditions of Black consciousness.

Nicky Lawrence on Friday. May 21 at 3:40pm:

Nicky Lawrence is a moody, tender, tour de force of a performer and vocal artist. Moved to sing by the black women who sang before her and who continue to sing within her, Lawrence’s voice will grab you by the throat with the force of its pain, beauty, rage and ultimately—love.

The writer and creator of two original works Key Change (Globe Theatre, Regina) and Ugly Black Woman (Hart House, Paradise on Bloor) Nicky has performed on national theatre stages in countless productions to critical acclaim. With several television and movie credits to her name; Anne with an E, Workin’ Moms, Schitts Creek, Killjoys , In the Shadow of the Moon, she continues to advocate for better treatment of Black actors working in the field.

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. 

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.