Speakers

Robert Lepage

Keynote Speaker
Keynote Speaker
Versatile in every form of theatre craft, Robert Lepage is equally talented as a director, playwright, actor and film director. His creative and original approach to theatre has won him international acclaim and shaken the dogma of classical stage direction to its foundations, especially through his use of new technologies.
Among his most noticed work for the stage: Dragons’ Trilogy (1985), Needles and Opium (1991), The Far Side of The Moon (2000), The Andersen Project (2005), Lipsynch (2007), his solo performance 887 (2015) and his most recent production Quills (2016); his multimedia creations: The Image Mill (2008) and The Library at Night (2015); at the opera: The Damnation of Faust (1999), The Nightingale and Other short Fables (2009), Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (2010) and L’Amour de loin (2015).
Reneltta is of Inuvialuit, Cree and Dene descent originally from the Northwest Territories. She is the first female Indigenous graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting program and founder of Akpik Theatre, the only professional Indigenous Theatre company in the NWT. Akpik Theatre focuses on establishing an authentic Northern Indigenous voice through theatre and storytelling. Raised by her grandparents on the trap-line until school age, this nomadic environment provided Reneltta with the skills to become the multi-disciplined artist she is now. For over a decade Reneltta has been part of or initiated the creation of Indigenous Theatre across Canada and overseas. Reneltta is the first Indigenous person to direct at The Stratford Festival. She has recently been hired as the Indigenous Arts Director at the BANFF Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Gideon Arthurs is the CEO of the National Theatre School of Canada, the most important and only national theatre training institution in the country. One of very few CEOs age 40 and under of a large cultural organization in Canada, he operates with the belief that arts organizations must play a more active role in community building, bringing people together to imagine, think and feel collectively and engage with the complexities of our times. He works to advance the interests of young and marginalized people in the cultural sector and fights for better representation of the diversity across the country in the creative industries.
Dominic Bilkey is currently Head of Sound & Video at the National Theatre in London England, after 5 years as Head of Sound for the Young Vic Theatre. He sits on the board of the Association of Sound Designers and was a recipient of the Technical Theatre Awards (TTA) for Outstanding Achievement in Sound. He is actively involved in the teaching sound and associated technologies at a number of UK based universities.
Dominic is an active freelance sound designer and has worked on a number of shows both in the UK and abroad. Recent works include Peter Pan (National Theatre) Shadowlands (Birdsong Productions) Flarepath (Birdsong Productions); Jane Eyre (National Theatre/Bristol Old Vic); Pinocchio (Guy James and Szpiezak Productions); Tommy the Musical (Aria Entertainment, Guy James and Szpiezak
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Simon Brault is the Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts, coming into the position after having served as Vice-Chair of their Board of Directors from 2004 to 2014. Mr. Brault has been active in the cultural sector for over 30 years and has held key positions in many national organizations.
Mr. Brault has participated in many initiatives, such as the Forum d’action des milieux culturels de la Métropole, the steering committee of the Chantier de l’économie sociale, the Montréal Summit, the Rendez-vous novembre 2007 Montréal Métropole culturelle and Agenda 21C de la culture au Québec. He was also a founding member and Chair of Culture Montréal. He was appointed to the board of directors of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA). His first non-fiction book, Le facteur C : l’avenir passe par la culture, explained the dramatic rise of cultural concerns in the public agenda.
Mr. Brault is an Officer of the Order of Canada, Officier de l’Ordre national du Québec, a Fellow of the CGA Order and the CPA Order, and is a recipient of the 2009 Keith Kelly Award for Cultural Leadership. In 2015, he received the Quebec CPA Order’s prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award.
Brian leads a team of dedicated people who are interested in developing Indigenous leaders and managers to make positive change in their communities, organizations and businesses. He has a Master of Laws degree and practiced law. He has published articles on treaties, self-government, economic development and leadership. He has taught as a sessional instructor at U of A and U of C. Brian is Cree and a member of the Sucker Creek First Nation in northwest Alberta in Treaty 8 territory. He received a Blackfoot name, Apahto’kii, which means pine, as in pine tree. He is married with two grown children and three grandchildren. Brian still plays hockey and golfs, and has been known to grab a guitar and belt out some country blues at open mics.
Susan Chalmers-Gauvin, Co-Founder and CEO of Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada,is a strategic, results-driven leader with over twenty years of management experience in strategic planning, and community and program development, including leadership roles in the health sector and strategic counsel to First Nations.
Ms. Chalmers-Gauvin has been responsible for the strategic, organizational and financial development of Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada since its establishment in 2001, bringing it from a start-up enterprise to an international touring company and positioning itas an innovation hub for arts and public engagement. Ms. Chalmers Gauvin is committed to the critical role the arts play in engaging communities in creative learning and has successfully established cross disciplinary partnerships with the education, health, ICT and social sectors. She is a recipient of Top 50 CEO’s Award, Atlantic Canada; Canada’s TOP 100 Award-Canada’s Most Powerful Women, the Women’s Executive Network (WXN); Honourary Doctorate of Letters, the University of New Brunswick and the YWCA Women of Distinction Award.
Luc Courchesne is a pioneer in media art and design. From interactive portraiture to immersive experience systems, he has developed innovative approaches which have earned him prestigious awards such as the Grand Prix of the ICC Biennale 1997 in Tokyo, an Award of Distinction and several Honorary Mentions at Prix Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and participations in Wired’s Next Fest. His work is part of major public and private collections in North America, Europe and Asia including the ZKM (Karlsruhe), the ICC (Tokyo), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (1974) and of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1984), Courchesne was a student of Toni Mann, Michael Snow and Otto Piene. Luc Courchesne [courchel.net] is a founding member and current co-director of research at the Society for Art and Technology [sat.qc.ca], honorary professor at Université de Montréal and member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He is represented by Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain.
At LaPlaca Cohen, Phil assists with the execution of Culture Track, overseeing the development of the questionnaire, deployment of the survey, analysis and insight gathering, marketing and communication strategy, design, and event planning. Beyond Culture Track, he also supports a variety of client work through research, strategy, and project management.
Before coming to LaPlaca Cohen, Phil worked at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in the Department of Audience Experiences and Performance. He graduated with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in art history and advertising.
Kevin Cunningham is an award-winning New York based producer, director, writer, designer, inventor and entrepreneur, and is the founder and Executive Artistic Director of 3-Legged Dog Media and Theater Group and 3LD Art & Technology Center.
His artistic focus over the last 30 years has been on the creation of large-scale interdisciplinary artwork of all kinds and on the creation of artists’ tools that enable intuitive manipulation of time-based and sensory elements. In recent years he has worked to create a self-sufficient platform for artistic experimentation in the face of declining philanthropic support for the arts.
He is the recipient of many awards and has received major grants from major private cultural foundations. He has twice been awarded the Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Award. In 2017 he co-produced and presented the world premiere of Angel’s Bone by Du Yun which just won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Mike DeGagné is the seventh President and Vice-Chancellor of Nipissing University. He has served as the founding Executive Director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, a national organization which addressed the legacy of Indian Residential Schools. He has served on numerous Boards of Directors in the health and university sectors including as Chairman of Ottawa’s Queensway Carleton Hospital, and Chairman of the Child Welfare League of Canada. He has a PhD in Education focusing on Aboriginal post-secondary success from Michigan State University, and Masters degrees in Administration and Law. He lectures nationally and internationally in the areas of Indigenous governance and reconciliation. He is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario as well as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Dr. Sara Diamond is the President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University, Canada’s University of the Imagination. She brings expertise in digital transformation, data analysis and design thinking. She is an artist, designer and computer scientist.
Tom Finkelpearl is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs where he oversees city funding for nonprofit arts organizations across the five boroughs and directs the cultural policy for the City of New York. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Finkelpearl served as Executive Director of the Queens Museum for twelve years starting in 2002, overseeing an expansion that doubled the museum’s size and positioning the organization as a vibrant center for social engagement in nearby communities. He also held positions at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, working on the organization’s merger with the Museum of Modern Art, and served as Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program. Based on his public art experience and additional research, he published a book, Dialogues in Public Art , in 2000. His second book, What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation examines the activist, participatory, coauthored aesthetic experiences being created in contemporary art.
Alan Greyeyes is the Indigenous Music Development Manager for Manitoba Music and the chairperson for Aboriginal Music Manitoba. In 2005 he helped launch the Manito Ahbee Festival and Aboriginal Peoples Music Awards; in 2006 he helped launch the Aboriginal Music Performers Camp (AMP Camp); and, in 2009 he launched the Aboriginal Music Week festival. Alan’s current board and committee commitments include positions with MuchFACT, the JUNO Awards, Canada’s Music Incubator, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and the Mayor of Winnipeg.
A lawyer by training, Mélanie Joly is passionate about her city of Montréal and the power of positive politics.
Mélanie worked at two major law firms in Montréal before making the leap into communications, as a managing partner of the Montréal office of the international communications firm Cohn & Wolfe. Founder of Le Vrai Changement pour Montréal party, Mélanie ran for mayor of Montréal in 2013.
A firm believer in the importance of community involvement, Mélanie has served on numerous boards of directors, including those of the Régie des rentes du Québec, Fondation du CHUM, and Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. She has also served as a spokesperson for Logis Rose-Virginie and as an ambassador for Herstreet.
Mélanie’s hard work has been recognized on many occasions. She was selected by Elle Québec as the 2008 Woman of the Year in the “up and coming” category, and was later honoured as the first Quebecer to receive the Arnold Edinborough Award for her involvement in the cultural community.
Mélanie holds an Honours Bachelor of Law from Université de Montréal and a Magister Juris in European and Comparative law from the University of Oxford.
Vinnie Karetak is the chair of the Qaggiavuut, the board tasked with delivering Inuit cultural programs in and around Nunavut. The ultimate goal of the board is the build a performing arts centre in Nunavut. Meanwhile, the board is busy with providing programs for youth and children, recording elders with their stories and teaching artists to teach their art. Vinnie lives in Iqaluit, is married and has 2 boys.
Jenny Koons is a theater director and activist who specializes in bringing diverse thinkers together to create innovative, cross-disciplinary projects. She is co-founder/curator of ThisGen 2016, curator of New York City Center’s MIXTAPE, and co-founder of Artists 4 Change NYC. Jenny is on the leadership team for The Ghostlight Project, the advisory board for UK-based ThisGen 2016, and serves on New York City Center’s Artists’ Board. She joined the SPACE Ryder Farm team as lead curator with the mission of increasing equity and inclusion and was its inaugural Creative Collisions Residency curator. Selected projects include: In This Moment (Signature Theater), Gimme Shelter (Why Not Theatre, 2015 Pan Am Games commission), I’m Not the Stranger You Think I Am (Arts Brookfield), A Sucker Emcee (LAByrinth Theater), Queen of the Night (Diamond Horseshoe), The Odyssey
Ed Lantz is an entertainment technology engineer, immersive experience designer and innovator in 360 digital cinema. While at Spitz, Inc. he led the design and development of digital planetariums including the Library of Alexandria in Egypt and Papalote Museo del Nino in Mexico City. Ed founded Vortex Immersion Media in 2007 to bring immersive media into arts and entertainment. Vortex produces 360 concerts, group immersive experiences and VR Cinemas for Fortune 500 companies including EMC2, IBM, Live Nation, Microsoft, NBC Universal, NFL, Nike, Nokia and Cartoon Network. The company also operates the Vortex Dome, the first commercial immersive media production and events studio in downtown Los Angeles.
David Maggs carries on an active career in both the arts and academia. As an artist he continues to perform as a pianist, has written several works for the stage, has led the development of interarts performing ensemble Dark by Five, is working on his first feature length documentary film, and is increasingly involved in developing augmented reality and new media experiences. He is the founder and artistic producer of Gros Morne Summer Music, a year-round interdisciplinary arts organization in Eastern Canada. In 2015 he launched Liminus, an interdisciplinary initiative dedicated to the intersections of Arts, Health, Sustainability, Indigeneity, Technology, and the Natural World. As an academic, David’s focus is on forging a more robust engagement between the arts and sustainability. His doctoral thesis Artists of the Floating World: Art-sustainability relations in the late days of Modernity helped form the basis of Sustainability in the Imaginary World, a SSHRC Insight funded multidisciplinary research initiative. David is a SSHRC post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, UBC, working with John Robinson.
With a background in both the performing arts and the global contemporary art world, Hil brings a diverse range of insights into the cultural landscape and the unique opportunities that organizations possess as they move into the future.
As the Associate Director of the Strategy team at LaPlaca Cohen, Hil has worked with a broad range of clients on branding, positioning, and visioning for the future. She also leads the team fielding Culture Track, LaPlaca Cohen’s cultural innovation engine dedicated to solving the most critical challenges facing the worlds of culture and creativity through research, education, dialogue, and action.Hil received a BA in Art History and a certificate in African Studies from Princeton University, where her undergraduate thesis focused on new models of collaborative art practice spearheaded by burgeoning artists in Kampala, Uganda—where she also assisted in planning for the development of the first multi-disciplinary arts center in the country.
Iris Nemani is Harbourfront Centre’s Chief Programming Officer responsible for overseeing and delivering Harbourfront Centre’s diverse arts, culture and educational programs. She has worked in the arts and culture sector for over 25 years, bringing her expertise and leadership to a variety of organizations, most recently as Managing Director of PANAMANIA, the arts and culture program of the TO2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.
Imelda Perley is Wolastoqew, a descendant of the people of the river. Presently, she is Elder-In-Residence at the University of New Brunswick. She is also Cultural Coordinator for all Maliseet communities in Health Initiatives. Her Cultural roles include Sweatlodge Keeper, Sacred Pipe Carrier, Storyteller and Keeper of Women’s ceremonies. Most recently she has been appointed Canada’s 150 Ambassador.
Jan-Fryderyk Pleszczynski is president and executive producer of Digital Dimension, a company specializing in digital content creation and animation for the film, television and video game industry. Before taking up the leap as an entrepreneur, Jan-Fryderyk spent several years as a business lawyer with Fasken Martineau, a leading international law firm. Very involved in the community, Jan-Fryderyk is president of the Montréal Arts Council and sits on various boards, including the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde. In 2015, he was awarded the Arnold Edinborough Award by Business for the Arts for his exemplary leadership and volunteer contribution to the arts.
Jason Ryle is the Artistic Director at imagineNATIVE, which presents the annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, the world’s largest Indigenous film festival, based in Toronto. Jason develops and oversees all aspects of the organization’s year-round and Festival artistic programming in addition to national and international co-presentations. In addition to his role at imagineNATIVE, he has made short films, is an emerging producer, and is a script reader for The Harold Greenberg Fund, which provides financial aid to Canadian filmmakers. As an award-winning writer, Jason has written for the Smithsonian Institution and numerous publications throughout North America.
As the Associate Artistic Director, English Theatre and Interim Facilitator, Indigenous Theatre at Canada’s National Arts Centre, Sarah has had an exciting and award winning career. She is also the creative catalyst SpiderWebShow, and a former AD of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Originally from Montreal, Sarah now lives in Kingston and works from Ottawa. She has directed and dramaturged from coast to coast and internationally. She is the curator for The Collaborations, leader for The Cycle(s), and recently directed Kill Me Now (RMTC/NAC), Bunny (Stratford Festival) and Helen Lawrence (CanStage, BAM, Kammerspiele etc.,) Sarah was recently awarded The LMDA Elliot Hayes Award for her focus on the Indigenous Body of Performance work in Canada.
With more than two decades experience in leadership, branding and development, Michèle Stanners is a long-time advocate and dedicated member of Calgary’s arts community, having founded, served with or consulted for several organizations. Michèle holds an MBA/Law combined degree from the University of Alberta and graduated from the Harvard Divinity School with a Masters in Theological Studies in 2012. While at Harvard University, she worked with faculty at the Kennedy School to design leadership courses and seminars on the integration of the arts for positive social movement and change. She is sought out for her unique talent for embracing and leveraging the power of diversity to respond to complex cultural challenges and ensure broad-based commitment and inclusive decision making. In her role as the Executive Director at Making Treaty 7, Michèle is engaging stakeholders to ensure that the spirit of Treaty 7 is shared not only with the people of Treaty 7 but with all of Canada and beyond.
Madani took over as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012. In 2013 he programmed the company’s most successful season to date, which saw the theatre play to 99% capacity. For the Bush he has previously directed The Royale, Perseverance Drive and Chalet Lines. Prior to his appointment at the Bush, he was Artistic Director of Freedom Studios in Bradford, Yorkshire where his work included the site-specific work, The Mill – City of Dreams. He has also worked nationally and internationally as theatre director, writer and practitioner. Whilst at Freedom Studios Madani collaborated with the Bush Theatre through workshops culminating in Freedom’s two week residency in 2010 at the theatre. He was previously Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Asian Theatre School. Madani originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. He was the recipient of the Decibel Award at the South Bank Awards show in 2006.
Nora Young is the host and the creator of Spark, CBC Radio’s national show and podcast about technology and culture. Spark is a fun and informative look at new technology, with an eye to understanding how it is changing our relationships, our work, and our culture. She was the founding host of the CBC Radio show, Definitely not the Opera, where she often focused on new media and technology.
As a journalist, author, and speaker, Nora explores how new technology shapes the way we understand ourselves and the world around us. Her book, The Virtual Self, on the explosion of data about our behaviours, opinions and actions, is published by McClelland and Stewart. Her favourite technology is her bicycle.