Navigating Precarity and the Impact of COVID-19 on Arts Administration on June 11

The Gathering: Online

Navigating Precarity and the Impact of COVID-19 on Arts Administration

June 11, 2020 | 1-4pm via Zoom 

Understanding precarity is embedded in the reality of working / creating in the Arts. However, COVID-19 as a global pandemic has shifted how organizations should and can plan for precarity especially as Arts Administrators.  What are some of the impacts of the pandemic on the Arts and also on Arts Administration? What are some of the lessons we are learning about the sector?

We hope you can join us. It is our intent to offer further space for networking with artists and organizations, asking the same questions about IBPOC visibility, inclusion and their intersections with artistic/organizational practices while speaking to many perspectives in the arts and the changing demographics of audiences and participation within the Arts sector.

The Gathering: Online will invite artists and organizations to speak about their work and the viewers to engage with the artists while having a forum for asking questions in real time. We are committed to being a supportive convenor of arts practitioners from the Indigenous, racialized, deaf, disabled and mad, women and other historically-marginalized artists and communities.


Ben Donoghue, Director – Media Arts Net­work of Ontario
Camille Georgeson-Usher, Executive Director – Aboriginal Curatorial Collective
Jason Samilski, Managing Director – CARFAC Ontario
Kehinde Bah, Project Manager, Precarity in the Arts – WorkinCulture
Alica Hall, Executive Director – Nia Centre for the Arts
Kristina Lemieux, Executive Director – Generator
Brenda Leadlay, Executive Director – BC Alliance for Arts + Culture
Alida Esmail, Research Officer – Diversité Artistique Montréal
Martha Rans, Founder and Legal Director – Pacific Legal Education and Outreach Society


Ben Donoghue is a euro-settler background filmmaker and arts administrator living in Toronto. Since 2013 he has worked as the Director of the Media Arts Network of Ontario (MANO), a provincial arts service organization supporting and advocating for the media arts and artist-run sectors. Ben has worked in numerous positions within artist-run culture including as the Executive Director of the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) from 2007-2013. He is a founding board or collective member of a number of projects including MICE Magazine, Indigenous Routes, Project 8, and Collective Forms in Housing and has served on the boards of many arts and social justice organizations across the country, Ben is currently working on a series of audio works, numerous short to mid-length 16mm films, and a 16mm film installation. His next feature length film is scheduled to go into production summer 2020. (

Camille Georgeson-Usher is a Coast Salish / Sahtu Dene/ Scottish scholar, artist, writer, and Executive Director for the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective from Galiano Island, BC which is the land of the Pune’laxutth’ (Penelakut) Nation. Usher completed her MA in Art History at Concordia University and is currently a PhD student in the Cultural Studies department at Queen’s University. She has been awarded the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholarship for her research-creation work around urban Indigenous experiences within Indigenous communities, groups, and arts collectives through both little and big gestures that activating public spaces. She was awarded the 2018 Canadian Art Writing Prize and most recently has had work exhibited in Soundings: an exhibition in five parts at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, ON. (

Jason Samilski is a literary artist, musician, and the Managing Director of CARFAC Ontario. He also serves as a Creative Director of CUE, an arts initiative dedicated to providing high-access funding, support, and exhibition opportunities for new-generation artists who live and work on the margins in Toronto. (

Kehinde Bah‘s experience spans Toronto’s political, philanthropic, community development and the arts for 2 decades. His early work includes chairing the Toronto Youth Cabinet, working as a program officer at the Laidlaw Foundation, and a co-founder of the Remix Project. Today Kehinde works to connect mental wellness practices to youth, manages artists professionally, and mentors young leaders with a passion for creating solutions that impact their own communities. He is currently the Project Manager for Work In Culture’s Income Precarity for Artists project, in a community engagement position. (

Alica Hall strongly believes in the transformative potential of the arts to empower and strengthen communities. She has a professional background in strategic communications, but her passion lies in creating safer spaces for artists to create and connect with new audiences.

More recently she served as the Co-chair of Pride Toronto, the largest LGBTQ+ festival in North America. Under her leadership, the festival grew from 10 days to a month, by partnering with cultural institutions to bring queer artists into new venues and spaces. As the executive director of Nia Centre for the Arts, Alica is now heading up the development of Canada’s first professional multi-disciplinary arts facility dedicated to supporting and showcasing Afro-diasporic art. (

Kristina Lemieux is an accomplished arts manager with more than 20 years of professional experience. She is also a contemporary dancer. Raised in Treaty 6 territory (rural Alberta), Kristina lived in Edmonton, attending the University of Alberta, for 10 years before heading to Vancouver where her passion for the arts has driven collaboration, creation, and innovation in the Vancouver arts scene for over a decade. After working with Generator in a freelance capacity for several years, Kristina made the move to Toronto in January 2017 to take on the role of Lead Producer of Generator.

Kristina is passionate about generating dialogue in the arts and, to this end, earned a certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement from Simon Fraser University. In all that she does she works to support independent artists across performing disciplines in finding ways to make art outside of the currently prescribed modes. (

Brenda Leadlay was born to 7th generation settler parents and raised on Treaty 6 in small town Alberta. She is currently the Executive Director of the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture and privileged to work on the traditional, unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Brenda’s professional arts career spans over 40 years as an actor, director, presenter, producer and administrator. Before moving back to Vancouver in 2016, she spent 5 years in Ottawa as the Artistic Executive Director of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival at the National Arts Centre.  Previous to that, she was the Artistic and Managing Director of Presentation House Theatre and The Norman Rothstein Theatre as well as the founder of The Chutzpah Festival. Since taking the helm at the BC Alliance, she has been instrumental in advocating for the arts at all levels of government to educate and inform decision-makers of their inherent value. (

Alida Esmail ( is a Montreal-based dance and theatre artist born in Burlington, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor in Fine Arts (Major in Contemporary Dance, Minor in Psychology) from Concordia University and a Master in Rehabilitation Sciences from Université de Montréal. Her dance education also includes a year in India at the Attakkalari Centre for the Movement Arts and Mixed Media. In addition, she has extensive training in International Ballroom/Latin dance and has competed nationally, winning in several categories. She currently uses this training to help develop and spread Liquid Lead Dancing, a gender-neutral approach to partner dancing, featured on Alongside her performance career she is actively involved in Arts and Health research and action-research promoting ethno-cultural equity in the Arts. As Research Officer at Diversité artistique Montréal (DAM), she is currently leading a collaborative project in partnership with 12 influential arts and cultural organizations in Montreal to implement more equitable practices. She has published the various streams of her research in recognized scientific journals and presented at conferences across Canada, Europe, the United States, and India. Alida’s continues to choreograph, to perform, and to research, encouraging intimate crossover between art and science. (

Martha Rans is a lawyer specializing in the legal needs of non-profit societies as well as many visual and multimedia digital artists. She has been practicing law in British Columbia since 1997 and spent 10 years as a labour employment and human rights lawyer/mediator with the BC and Ontario governments. She is a recognized expert on both Canada’s Copyright Act as well as the BC Societies Act. She advises on copyright, charity law, incorporation, privacy, employment, labour, health & safety and human rights and is an advocate for public legal education and information.  Founder and  Legal Director of Pacific Legal Education and Outreach Society home of the Artists Legal Outreach and Law for Non-Profits.  (

Advocacy Update 

Achieving Equity – a collaborative voice for change from small, IBPOC and marginalized arts organizations in response to COVID-19 emergency relief efforts and the arts. Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) has been advocating for IBPOC and marginalized artists and arts organizations since our foundation in 2009. We continue our advocacy efforts during the COVID-19 crisis together with other arts service organizations to ensure that the needs of IBPOC and marginalized artists and arts organizations are heard and addressed. The following are current initiatives undertook by CPAMO and other arts service organizations:

Read our report: Achieving Equity Or Waiting For Godot: The Crawling Pace of Equity In the Arts And A Call To Action (for the GIA Racial Equity document mentioned in our report click here).

Sign MANO’s open letter – Media Arts Network of Ontario (MANO) has an open letter to the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, for more information visit MANO’s website and sign the open letter here to show your support.

CARFAC Ontario released an open letter from grassroots organizations read this letter here, and a letter to for funding recommendation here.

Importance of Digital Research and Prototyping: IBPOC Digital Strategy report launch on June 4

The Gathering: Online

Importance of Digital Research and Prototyping: IBPOC Digital Strategy report launch

June 4, 2020 | 1-4pm via Zoom 

Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) received funding from Canada Council to develop a digital arts strategy for the IBPOC (Indigenous, Black and People of Colour) artists and arts organizations who are part of CPAMO’s community.  The project included a Landscape Study of digital use by arts organizations, Focus Groups, interviews and surveys to consult with IBPOC artists and arts organizations and the development of a plan for a Collaborative Digital Platform based on the research and consultation. This online discussion will animate the digital space with the findings of the consultation and will invite other art sector practitioners to share their own research and findings.  Join us for a lively conversation on the Arts sector and the digital world!


Perry Voulgaris and Kelly Lynne  Ashton, CPAMO
Valerie Sing Turner and Anju Singh, CultureBrew.Art
Amy Mushinski, Canadian Opera Company
Sean Lee and Victoria Anne Warner, Tangled Art + Disability
Christopher Sonnemann, The National Ballet of Canada
Jessa Agilo, ArtsPond


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.

KLA Jan 2018Kelly 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 my 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 assist 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

Valerie Sing Turner is the founder/Artistic Producer of Visceral Visions, which incites intersectional and intercultural artistic community in Vancouver and beyond through a potent mix of storytelling, advocacy, and professional development. The company’s latest initiative is CultureBrew.Art, for which Valerie is Creative Director/Co-Executive Director as part of a shared leadership model with two other women of colour (Tri-ED). An award-winning multidisciplinary artist who performs, writes, dramaturges, and directs, her latest work in development is a 10-actor play, In the Shadow of the Mountains, for which she was artist-in-residence with National Arts Centre. A leading voice on issues of diversity/decolonization in the arts, Valerie was honoured as the 2019 recipient of UBCP/ACTRA’s International Women’s Day Award in recognition of her “outstanding contributions to the Union, the industry, and causes of social justice”. She is a member of Canadian Actors’ Equity, UBCP/ACTRA, Playwrights Guild of Canada, and Banff’s Cultural Leadership 2018-19 cohort.

Anju Singh is an active, multi-disciplinary artist who has worked in the non-profit and arts sector for over 15 years. Alongside her passion for the arts, Anju is excited about the ways in which she can apply technology in her work in arts and the non-profit sector. Anju’s degree in Philosophy from Simon Fraser University trained her for critical and analytic thinking, as well as a love for problem solving. Following her studies, her training was nicely rounded out by her experience working in arts and non-profit organizations where she developed values that prioritize people, relationships, and more equitable practices. Anju brings to CultureBrew.Art a breadth of skills including experience from the tech sector, non-profit management, human resources training, and a strong history of operations experience. As an artist and musician, Anju’s contributions and interests cross several artistic disciplines, an important element of CultureBrew.Art, and she brings extensive experience creating, producing, and showing artistic work.

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.

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.

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.

Jessa Agilo is an integrated arts producer with a three-decade career boosting social, economic, spatial, and digital justice for equity-seeking groups in Canadian arts and culture.  As Founder of ArtsPond, since 2014 Jessa has led ground-breaking efforts including de-gentrification (Groundstory), digital transformation of arts services (DigitalASO), open source software (Hatch Open), platform cooperatives (Artse United), creative land trusts (Groundtrust), shared charitable platforms (Arts Working Group), COVID-19 pandemic (I Lost My Gig Canada), and more. As a consultant, Jessa has helped grow such diverse companies as Creative Users Projects, Roseneath Theatre, Ontario Culture Days, Workman Arts, Queer Arts Festival, Dreamwalker Dance, and many more. Jessa is a mentor to young spatial and digital justice changemakers from Humber College, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and Cultural Human Resource Council’s Talent2Lead. She was recognized with the Humberto Santos Award in Business and Administration in 2006 and Toronto Arts Council’s Leaders Lab in 2019.

DigitalASO + Artse United are two digital strategy initiatives led by ArtsPond with the support of Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Strategy Fund. Artse United is an emerging platform cooperative providing open source arts management and impact investing digital tools for small creators and producers in arts and culture. Phase 1 prioritizes the financial management needs of equity-seeking groups in the visual, performing, and disability arts. DigitalASO is a national strategic effort to bolster digital justice and foster an inclusive ecosystem for shared digital innovation in Canadian arts and culture. Phase 2 explores the scope and design of a Digital Arts Services Alliance to help break down traditional silos and steward a shared national strategy for the transformation of Canadian arts and culture to the digital world with a focus on underserved, equity-seeking groups. Through digital meetups and public consultations across Canada, the project will help connect national champions, strengthen literacy and regional advantages across the country, boost cross-disciplinary and cross-regional collaborations, and foster shared human-digital infrastructure and resources.