Guest Bios for Arts Summit 2011

 Extraordinary lineup of participants at this year's Arts Summit.  Take a look at who's talking ...


Jane Heyman has worked in professional theatre across Canada and England primarily as a director and teacher for more than 40 years. From 1985 to 2005 she taught acting and was Associate Director of Studio 58, Langara College’s professional theatre training program. She represented B.C. on the CAEA National Council for nine years and currently sits on the boards of the PuSh Festival, Koerner Foundation, PAL Canada and the PAL Studio Theatre.

Jane is very proud to have helped found Westcoast Actors and the Women in VIEW Festival as well as co-founding (with Joy Coghill) Vancouver’s Performing Arts Lodge (PAL)


Sadira Rodrigues is the Director of Continuing Studies. Since completing her MA in Art History at the University of British Columbia in 2003 she has worked in a variety of roles as a curator, writer, educator, facilitator, public programmer and arts administrator. She has published texts on a range of topics for books, journals and catalogues. Her recent positions have included Manager of Arts Programs with 2010 Legacies Now, Diversity Facilitator with the Canada Council for the Arts, Public Programs Coordinator at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Joey "Shithead" Keithley has long been an activist, including as a candidate for the Green Party, and is the founder of Sudden Death Records ( He lives in Vancouver with his wife and their three children. Lead singer of the seminal punk rock band DOA, he is featured prominently in the new feature-length documentary American Hardcore, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2006 and is now in limited release across North America.

Jessica Hum is a community development, fundraising and communications professional with background in Urban and Regional Planning. Past Project Management work with Toronto's Queen West Art Crawl, Parkdale Liberty Economic Development Corporation and Toronto Artscape. Canada World Youth alumni and former member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet and Youth Engagement Program, Laidlaw Foundation. From building Business-to-Business relationships and by leveraging the strong history of Business Improvement Areas, Jessica brings experience working with patrons, funders, government and boards of directors. As Past President of the University Settlement in Toronto’s Art and Design District, she understands the complexities of managing business and community relations with far-reaching projects and ideas.

Joyce Rosario is currently the Executive Director of New Works, a Vancouver-based organization that provides management support to artists and projects in the performing arts, and produces several public performance series featuring dance from a wide variety of cultural traditions. For 3 years, Joyce was the Executive Director for Made in BC - Dance on Tour, a regional dance presenter network dedicated to increasing audience reach and touring opportunities for contemporary dance in British Columbia. From 2002 to 2007, she worked with battery opera as company manager, and in 2006 as administrator for the Dancing on the Edge Festival. She served a one-year term on the BC Arts Council board in 1998 through a provincial "Youth on Boards" initiative. She continues to serve on various boards and committees, including CanDance, the Emerging Arts Professional Network, and a new professional development initiative at CAPACOA, The Succession Plan. Joyce is a graduate of UBC Theatre Production/Design Program.

Am Johal works in the Vancity Office of Community Engagement in the SFU Woodwards Cultural Unit.  He has previously chaired the Impact on Communities Coalition and has been involved on the boards of the Or Gallery, Reach Health Clinic, the policing committee of the BC Civil Liberties Association and is co-founder of UBC's Humanities 101 program.  He has worked in politics, human rights, journalism and with civil society organizations.  He has an MA in International Economic Relations and is a part-time PhD student in Communication at European Graduate School.

Chris Wootten is an arts consultant currently working on the Vancouver Concert Hall and Theatre Society project. He has worked as a theatre producer and arts manager for over 35 years. He founded the Vancouver East Cultural Centre in 1973, where he also produced the original Billy Bishop Goes To War and which he later took to Broadway and the West End. His credits include Director of Programming at EXPO 86; Director, Ontario Arts Council; General Manager, Vancouver Playhouse; and Associate Director, Vancouver Art Gallery. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School and interned at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.

Nancy Noble is the CEO of the Museum of Vancouver. For the past five years she has led the Museum through transformative change including the creation of a new vision, values, direction and brand. This culminated in a Canadian Museums Association award for Outstanding Achievement for Innovative Management in 2010. Nancy has worked extensively in the Museum community in Canada for over 25 years and came to Vancouver from Winnipeg, where she was the Director of Research, Collections and Exhibitions at the Manitoba Museum. She is currently the Chair of the Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture and Vice-President of the Canadian Museums Association. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, England and a history degree from the
University of Saskatchewan.

Adam Vasilevich is the Vice-Chair of the Vancouver Public Space Network. The Vancouver Public Space Network is a grassroots collective that engages in advocacy, outreach and education on public space issues in and around Vancouver to preserve and celebrate public space as an essential part of a vibrant, inclusive city. Adam is a Landscape Architect and Planner who regularly rides his bike to work. Adam believes that biking is one of the best ways to experience Vancouver’s public spaces.

Sandy Garossino, a lawyer by training, owned and operated private businesses with over 200 employees for over 12 years prior to taking some years away from work for child-rearing.  She now sits on the SFU India Advisory Council and has ties to UBC’s Asia strategy.  She has been involved in arts governance for over 15 years, sitting on the boards of the Writers Festival, Public Dreams, and chairing the Vancouver Biennale.  She currently advises the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration, and sits on the board of the Alliance for Arts.

Most recently, with the Alliance, the BC Association for Charitable Gaming, and local residents' associations, Sandy and Lindsay Brown spearheaded the Vancouver Not Vegas Coalition, defeating the development of a mega-casino in downtown Vancouver.

Tracey Friesen joined the National Film Board of Canada as producer 10 years ago and in 2007 became executive producer at the Pacific & Yukon Centre, which relocated last year to the landmark Woodward’s redevelopment.  In this capacity, she works with the independent community to create innovative and socially relevant documentaries, animation and original digital content. Tracey has credits on over two dozen projects, including 'Carts of Darkness', ‘Mighty Jerome’ and ‘Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie’, a major co-production with E1.  As the interactive media landscape evolves, Tracey is striving to diversify her slate to include new creators and alternative forms of narrative expression. Before the NFB, Tracey was with Rainmaker for five years and prior to this worked as an editor and post production supervisor/ coordinator. Actively involved in the Vancouver filmcommunity, Tracey is a member of the Academy, Women in Film & Television Vancouver, DOC and sits as an affiliate guest with MPPIA. A firm believer in (or addict of) post secondary education, Tracey has a BA from each of Ryerson and UBC, an MA and MBA from SFU.

Robert Kerr is a creative arts professional with 26 years experience in organizational development, leadership, producing and programming. Robert has a long and successful history of producing, programming, and delivering extraordinary arts and cultural festivals and events through partnership, collaboration, and community engagement.

Robert is currently the Producing Artistic Director, Civic Events for Vancouver 125, responsible for programming and producing two major arts and cultural celebrations during Vancouver’s 125th anniversary year. From 2006 – 2010 Robert was Program Director, Cultural Olympiad (producer, executive and artistic director), for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralymp[ic Winter Games.. For 22 years prior to joining VANOC Robert was the founding Executive Director of Coastal Jazz & Blues Society and producer of their many events, including the highly successful Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

Robert was also a founding member and President of Jazz Festivals Canada, a national network of 18 leading Jazz Festivals from coast to coast. Robert has served as a board member for the British Columbia Arts Council, Tourism Vancouver, Vancouver Cultural Alliance, and Vancouver Co-operative Radio.

Aaron Schubert is currently the Talent Buyer for the Donnelly Group in Vancouver. His goal and challenge are to help strengthen the company’s relationships within the Vancouver music scene and improve its position as a player in the realm of Live concerts.  Prior to taking on his current position Aaron had been  the talent buyer and promotions manager for the Biltmore Cabaret and had worked as a booking agent with Paquin Entertainment, working with such artists as Sly and the Family Stone, K’naan, Tokyo Police Club, and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

jil p. weaving is currently  the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation’s Coordinator of Arts and Culture. She has developed numerous projects for the Vancouver Park Board, including the “Arts, Health & Seniors Project” and the Stanley Park Environmental Art Project. jil has been an artist for 30 years and has created installations for galleries, unusual public sites, in print, for the radio and on the internet. She has lectured and led workshops across Canada and in the US on community-engaged and ecologically-based arts practices.

Mo Dhaliwal is the chair of the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society, and president of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, which produces the annual “explorASIAN Festival” throughout the month of May. Mo partnered with the Cultural Olympiad for “Quantum Bhangra”, the signature South Asian event produced in partnership with the Olympics. Since then, Mo has begun working with the City of Vancouver and is part of a task force that developed the vision and strategy for the City’s 125th Anniversary celebration in 2011. As a freelance marketing and technology consultant and event producer, Mo collaborates with creative minds across the country and continues to experiment with arts and culture as a means for social change.

Heidi Reitmaier is currently Director and Curator of Education and Public Programmes at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Before moving to Canada, she lived for over 18 years in the UK.  where she worked at Tate in various guises, as a Curator of Public Programmes at Tate Britain, a producer for Tate Media and for Tate National on a feasibility study for an international architectural project. Previously she produced live events and radio programmes for the BBC, and was Director of Talks at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. She has contributed to numerous catalogues, books and magazines.

Thomas Anselmi is a musician and director of arts and culture at the new Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver B.C, Canada.

Ian Forsyth, born and raised in Vancouver, ran the Vancouver TheatreSports League from 1986 to 1990 and, in 1992, after working with the Arts Club, New Play Centre, Carousel Theatre and Pi Theatre, accepted an opportunity to open and run the North Peace Cultural Centre in Fort St. John. Moving to Kelowna in 1998, he became that city’s first cultural services manager, working to develop Kelowna’s Cultural District and Cultural Tourism Initiative. In 2001 Ian moved to Burnaby to become that city’s  arts services manager, leaving in 2007 to become North Vancouver’s first director of cultural affairs. Ian is currently a board member for the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, Theatre Under the Stars, president of the 605 Dance Collective, and president of the Creative City Network.



Lindsay Brown is a Vancouver writer and designer. She is founder of Stop BC Arts Cuts and the Vancouver Not Vegas Coalition, and board president of Vancouver artist-run centre the Or Gallery.

Penelope Buitenhuis graduated from SFU film in the 80's.  Living in Paris and then Berlin for ten years, she became known as an underground filmmaker. Llaw, a rant about the fall of the Wall, launched her career at the Berlin Film Festival. Her first rock n' roll feature Trouble led her back to Canada, directing Boulevard, Dangerous Attraction & eleven MOWs.. Her NFB documentary Tokyo Girls won two Gemini's. Her award-winning feature A Wake was recently in cinemas and is currently on Air Canada and Movie Central.

Martha Rans has worked in the non-profit world for over 20 years. Since 2003, she has been devoted to working with non-profits, co-operatives and arts sectors. Most recently, she created the Artists’ Legal Outreach program. Run entirely by volunteers, it ensures access to legal information and advice for artists and arts organizations. Martha has been practicing law since 1995 and has acted for artists in all disciplines. She regularly advises arts-related and other not-for-profit organizations on a wide range of legal issues including intellectual property, employment, labour, health & safety and privacy.

Myriam Steinberg, artistic director of the In The House Festival, has a long background of entrepreneurship within the arts. After working in the field of visual arts for several years she moved on to produce the In the House Festival full time. Her passion for the arts in all its facets comes through in the eclectic programming that can always be found at the festival. She believes that it is very important to not only expose the vast and varied talents of Vancouver, but also to create and foster community while showcasing that talent.

Pierre Rivard is the executive and artistic director of Le Centre culturel francophone de Vancouver. Among many community, educational and cultural services, le Centre produces annually three festivals: Festival d’été francophone de Vancouver in June, the Coup de coeur francophone de Vancouver festival in November, and the Juste pour Rire (Just for Laugh) festival de Vancouver in February. Pierre served on the Vancouver 2010 Board of Directors of the Bid Society, a member of the Cultural Resource Task Force, and the programming committee of “¨Place de la francophonie”. Pierre was the first British Columbian to receive the Mercure Award, and was the first recipient of the Gérald-et-Henriette Moreau Award of the BC Francophone Federation.

Nadia Chaney is known as the "chocolate gnostic with a passion for cosmic gossip."  With a multi-faceted formal education in the humanities, a deep-seated rage against the system, and an uncontrollable urge to rock microphones, she brings a positive, complex and unforgiving flavour to Banyen Roots' lyrical edge.  Her arts facilitation work focuses on issues of identity, communication, media awareness, participatory process and violence prevention.  She has worked with youth in detention, in rehab, on probation, in foster care, in US “failing schools," in community centers, at camps, at conferences, on reserves, in Indian slums and at almost every school in the BC Lower Mainland.

Ali Lohan is an artist and community organizer in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside ,whose practice involves working with residents, artists, and organizations, creating projects that invite local collaboration while implementing a new framework for community engagement. Ali has contributed to the development of several community art projects that include desmedia (downtown eastside media), CAN (Community Arts Network), The Out of the Rain Program, The Oppenheimer Park Community Art Show, and Art Cart.  Currently Ali is an Associate Member of Gallery Gachet, and a founding member of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council’s Arts and Culture Committee.

Jay Dodge, as artistic producer with Boca del Lupo, has been central to the creation of all of their shows.  As a writer, performer, producer, dramaturge and designer with the company, his hallmark is one of invention and daring.  In his eight years as artistic producer, Boca del Lupo has won the Alcan Performing Arts Award and several Jesse Richardson Theatre Awards. At the heart of Jay's relationship to theatre is his love of new creation and his fascination with space. Most recently, Jay was a driving force in the conception, acquisition, design and renovation of Progress Lab 1422, a shared rehearsal and development facility jointly administrated by Boca del Lupo, Rumble Productions, Electric Company Theatre and Neworld Theatre.  

Jacqueline (Jacquie) Gijssen joined the City of Vancouver as Senior Cultural Planner in 2006, following a 25-year career in museums and visual arts. Ever interested in the broader context for cultural activities, she works with elected officials, citizen groups, the development industry, and arts and culture communities.

Christina Panis is a Filipino-Canadian women, unapologetic feminist, and a community organizer in the (im)migrant justice movement.  She is an arts administrator Centre A, and sees her work as the crossroad between art, culture, and politics that contributes to feminism in Canada.  Christina is the current chair of the Philippine Women Centre of BC, which celebrated 20 years of Filipino-Canadian women’s organizing in 2009.  She sees herself as a member of a growing community, and is inspired by the experiences of migration, struggle, and militancy, and the transformation through self empowerment and social justice.

Alma Lee, the Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival founder, came to Canada from Scotland in 1967. She began her career at the House of Anansi Press in Toronto, and was the founding executive director of both the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Writers’ Trust.  Alma moved to Vancouver in 1984 and founded the Writers Festival in 1988. She has served as vice-chair of the BC Arts Council, and on the Granville Island Trust. Alma is a recipient of the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Award, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, and the Order of Canada, and holds an Honourary Doctorate of Letters from Simon Fraser University. She is currently working to have Vancouver designated a UNESCO World City of Literature.

David Pay is artistic director of Vancouver’s Music on Main, a  concert series dedicated to building community through a refreshing concept of shorter concerts, a bar before and after performances, and casual, stimulating environments. In just five  years, the series has produced 120 classical, new and genre-bending music events with over 300 musicians and nearly 40 world premieres. The UK’s Gramophone Magazine writes that Music on Main “provides western Canada with one of the finest windows onto the post-classical scene.” David is on the faculty at Capilano University’s Arts & Entertainment Management Department and served as Associate Director, Fall & Winter Music Programs at The Banff Centre. His essays and interviews about music have appeared at and in Vancouver Review.


Irwin Oostindie  is an artist, curator, and parent living in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, and has 25 years experience leading local and international media, culture and social justice projects. He has founded community radio, TV, print, web, and cultural space projects, including W2. Irwin was the Executive Director of Gallery Gachet, Communications Coordinator of the Roundhouse, Senior Organizer in the DTES for the City Manager's Office, and consultant on  economic development and cultural industries. Irwin received an Honour's Post-Graduate Certificate in Media Arts from Capilano University.

In his curatorial and space-building work, Irwin brings an interest in crosscultural dialogue and redress, and prioritizes community infrastructure for marginalized peoples. With W2, Irwin manages several social enterprises and is all too aware of cultural funding scarcity and its impacts on emergent and sustainable culture.



Amir Ali Alibhai, Executive Director / Alliance for Arts and Culture: Amir Ali Alibhai is an inter-disciplinary artist and has practiced as a curator of visual arts and community based arts, working with diverse artists and organizations representing multiple disciplines.  He has worked as a gallery educator and curator at the Richmond Art Gallery (1989-1996), assistant and guest curator at the Surrey Art Gallery (1995-1997), and as an independent curator/cultural worker since 1989.   He has been actively exhibiting and making art for twenty years.

Amir was one of the founders of the Rungh Cultural Society, which published Rungh, a magazine of contemporary diasporic South Asian Culture (1992-1997), and was part of the initial team that established and developed the innovative Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, which is widely recognized as a leader in Community Cultural Development 2008). He was a Cultural Planner for the City and District of North Vancouver’s joint North Vancouver Office of Cultural Affairs (2008).

Amir has served on various boards and committees, including the Board of ArtStarts in Schools (2002-2005), the Board of the Canada Council for the Arts (2005-2008) and is currently on the Board of the Canadian Conference of the Arts (2010).  During his term on Canada Council, he was board liaison with the Racial Equity in the Arts Committee (REAC), the Public Lending Right Commission (PLR), and served on the Executive and Governance Committees.

Amir holds a bachelor's degree in microbiology (Immunology1985), a bachelor's degree in fine arts (Painting/Drawing 1989), and a master's degree in curriculum studies (Art Education 2000); his master's thesis was on cross-cultural collaboration.

Amir’s art practice has included painting, site-specific installation, community-engaged works, and performance.  He studied classical Indian sitar for 10 years with Joyti Singh and has continued to play for over twenty years.  His work has explored themes of South Asian mythology, sacred art, and ritual.

Amir will have oversight of the Alliance for Arts and Culture’s producing of Arts Summit 2011.

Kevin Dale McKeown, Director of Communications & Special Events / Alliance for Arts and Culture: Vancouver-born Kevin Dale McKeown has enjoyed a varied career in journalism, media relations and event management, a career launched in 1970 when, at 19, he became the Georgia Straight’s gay columnist and Canada’s first “out” gay journalist.

Kevin was, for 20 years, a journalist, columnist and editor, contributing columns, reviews and features to the pages of The Georgia Straight, the Vancouver Courier, Victoria Today, and New Westminster's former daily newspaper, The Columbian, and serving as managing editor of the West Ender, the Williams Lake Tribune, and Montreal Magazine.

In 1989 Kevin began a second 20-year career in cultural event marketing and communications, beginning with Vancouver's first Dragon Boat Festival in and including work with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, the Vancouver International Children's Festival, the Vancouver International Writers Festival and numerous other cultural and social profit organizations and special events.

Venturing outside of the cultural realm, Kevin served as BC media director for the Green Party of Canada during the 2008 federal election and took the same role for the Green Party of BC during the 2009 provincial election.

In his present role as director of communications and special events for the Alliance for Arts and Culture Kevin handles media relations, coordinates advocacy initiatives, and is managing producer of the annual Mayor’s Arts Awards, BC Culture Days and cultural sector leaders’ Arts Summit.

He is also volunteer co-producer of two charitable fundraisers, the Granville Island Ferries Garbage Can Art Contest, for the art therapy programs at BC’s Children’s Hospital, and the Diane Forsythe Abbott Crabtree Corner Luncheon for the YWCA’s Crabtree Corner centre for mothers and children.

Kevin is the recipient of a Canadian Newspaper Award (1978), a Western Magazine Award (1991), and the Empress of Canada’s Humanitarian Award (2010) and an inductee in the Canadian Q Hall of Fame (2011)

Kevin will serve as executive producer of Arts Summit 2011.

Vanessa Richards is an inter/multi-disciplinary artist and facilitator with a foundation in music, live art, theatre, poetry, collaboration and programming. Her interests include participatory process, community-based arts and the role of the arts and artists (professional and amateur) in place-making, the civic imagination and social sustainability.

While resident in London from 1992 to 2003, she was Founder and Artistic Director of performing arts company Mannafest. There her work toured premier clubs, concert halls and galleries including The Jazz Café, Tate Modern, and South Bank Centre. She also designed and delivered socially-engaged projects with and for The UK Design Council, The Live Art Development Agency, London Education Authority and HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

Since returning to Vancouver in 2004 she has been guest lecturer at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, UBC School of Architecture, Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific, an MC for Vancouver International Writers Festival, Vancouver Folk Music Festival, The Mayor’s Art Awards, and facilitated creative workshops for Hollyhock Leadership Institute, Surrey Urban Youth Project, and Public Dreams Society while Artist-in-Residence, 2005-2006.

She has maintained an ongoing part-time contract as Western Regional Facilitator for Stand Firm, a capacity building initiative of the Canada Council, Equity Office.  From June 2009 to October 2010, she was the Director of Community Engagement Through the Arts at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. There she started the Woodward’s community choir in partnership with PHS Community Services Society.

Volunteerism includes Advisory Team Member. Vancouver 125 Celebrations, Robson Park Community Garden Steering Committee, former Director Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) and Chair of the Working Arts Society who presented the annual Sistahood Celebration.

Richards was nominated for a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Outstanding Performance and sings in the quartet Radiant Sound who make spare and luminous interpretations of mid-century and modern song. She earned an MPhil in Creative Writing from Cardiff University, UK.

Her poetry and critical works are anthologized in the UK, Holland, United States and Canada.

Ms. Richards will serve as the programming coordinator for Arts Summit 2011.

Andrea Curtis, Events Coordinator for the Alliance for Arts and Culture: Andrea  is a community organizer, independent producer and project manager with a background in visual and performance arts.  She directs her passion for creative culture into a vehicle for social change and environmental stewardship.

Andrea is a co-director of the creative project management company Transformation Projects.  As producer and organizer she has helped to mobilize and facilitate public engagement with City of Vancouver, Car Free Vancouver, Public Dreams Society, Work Less Party, Pivot Legal Society and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and taken on several missions to create sustainable systems for a number of large festivals across BC.  

She coordinates and facilitates the Next Up Leadership network in BC, an intensive and progressive youth leadership program that has roots in all three Western provinces.  

Andrea is also a founding member and producer of the Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret.

Andrea will serve as events coordinator Arts Summit 2011.

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