The staff of Toronto Arts Council are a team of 20 people, often increased by interns and volunteers, working together to support, promote and advocate for the arts in Toronto.
Claire Hopkinson, M.S.M, Director & CEO
Appointed to the position of Director & CEO of affiliate organizations Toronto Arts Council (TAC) and Toronto Arts Foundation in 2006, Claire has focused on increasing public and political understanding of the impact of the arts on the city. Under her leadership, TAC and the Foundation have nearly tripled annual investments into the arts sector. TAC is now known as a leader in equity granting across Canada.
Since 2014, Claire has launched a suite of strategic TAC grant programs after extensive consultations, the most recent being Indigenous Arts Projects and the Black Arts program. Partnerships with City institutions, universities, school boards and grassroots organizations have increased resources for artists and access to artistic offerings to communities throughout Toronto. Claire’s vision at Toronto Arts Foundation has resulted in equally strong partnerships, impactful research, advocacy, and important community gatherings such as the annual Mayor’s Arts Lunch awards ceremony which is a much-anticipated event on the Toronto cultural calendar. Arts in the Parks, a city wide initiative, and the Neighbourhood Arts Network, which has grown to 1,900 members since its inception in 2010, indicate her deep commitment to connecting communities to the arts.
Prior to her role at TAC and the Foundation, Claire led cutting edge arts organizations, commissioned, developed and produced new works of opera and music theatre for 25 years, and engaged in volunteer policy and advocacy work as Founding Chair of Opera.ca, Vice-Chair of Opera America, and Co-Founder and President of Creative Trust. Claire won the national M. Joan Chalmers Award for Arts Administration in 2001 in recognition of her contribution to Tapestry Opera and the arts in Canada, was recognized by Theatre Ontario in 2005 with the Sandra Tulloch Award for Innovation in the Arts, and received the Governor General Meritorious Service Medal in 2017 for her work in the arts through TAC and the Foundation.
With her vision of fostering a Creative City: Block by Block, Claire strives to highlight the important role that artists play in making Toronto a liveable, vibrant city and the potential of art to transform the lives of residents.
Susan Wright, Deputy Director
Susan has been in a management role with TAC and the Foundation since 2000. As Deputy Director, Susan works closely with Claire on policy and planning as well as advocating for support for artists and arts organizations with City Council. Currently, she is a member of the Steering Committee of CADAC (Canada Arts database), and sits on a number of external committees including IRAFF (Intergovernmental Forum for Arts Funders and Foundations) and Beautiful City Alliance. Susan’s other responsibilities at TAC include financial management and general operations. Prior to joining TAC, Susan spent five years as General Manager of Toronto Artscape, and many years as an arts consultant and manager of small arts organizations.
Andrew Suri, Director of Granting
Andrew joined TAC in 2010. He studied philosophy and biology (B.Sc. McMaster University, M.Sc. University of Victoria) and had commenced doctoral research before he crossed over to the arts and worked as a photographer and filmmaker, and as a performer and educator of the South Asian performing art of banethi. Since then, Andrew co-founded IMPACT (Indian Martial & Performance Art Collective of Toronto), and coordinated community arts projects across Toronto and in India. He has served TAC as Community Arts Officer, as well as Manager, TAC Grants Online. Working to improve access to TAC programs for under-represented cultural and community groups, Andrew led the development of several new grant programs and granting processes, including the Black Arts program and the Newcomer and Refugee Arts Engagement and Mentorship programs, and as head of the TAC Equity Steering Committee led the implementation of initiatives such as the TAC Accessibility Grant and Application Support, and helped develop and refine TAC's online granting system. Andrew became Director, Grants Management in 2017 and was named Director of Granting in 2019.
Yazmin Camacho Vela, Grants Assistant
Yazmin is an Arts administrator with years of experience supporting granting opportunities for film, media, and artistic community development projects from diverse roles at the Ministry of Culture, Peru. She has also taken production roles in film and commissioned artistic events. Her most recent work experience with the Pix Film Collective, a Toronto-based grassroots organization that contributes to enriching hybrid and multidisciplinary experimentation in media arts, was awarded the Ignite GLOW scholarship for her outstanding commitment to community development. Yazmin holds a Bachelor in Communication Arts and Sciences from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru where she majored in Audiovisual Communication and postsecondary studies in Marketing and Advertising, and is completing her studies at Humber College’s Arts Administration and Cultural Management program.
Gursimran Datla, Technical Assistant
Gursimran Datla is an emerging storyteller, living and working in Toronto. He moved to Toronto in 2016 from India to pursue Post-Secondary studies in filmmaking and arts management. Through the Arts Management program at Centennial College, Gursimran focussed on digital marketing, social media optimization, fundraising, web support, and web development. He has also studied design thinking and a variety of programming languages through Ryerson University. For the past eight years Gursimran has been producing short films, facilitating film workshops, and creating events as a film programmer, and has volunteered at many film, theater and art festivals in Toronto. Gursimran is a past recipient of the TAC Newcomer & Refugee Artist Mentorship grant, and is developing a comedy TV pilot based on the lives of South Asian Canadians. As a writer and director, his short film ‘Cinnamon Tea’ was screened at the South Asian International Film Festival, Toronto and at Emerging Lens Cultural Festival at Halifax, Nova Scotia. As an artist and arts worker, he is interested in the aesthetics of displacement and how the idea of ‘Home’ affects our artistic choices and decision-making. Gursimran is a proponent of equity in the arts, and believes that the enriched multi-cultural nature of the arts in Toronto can bring positive change in the lives of its residents.
Christy DiFelice, Music Program Manager
Appointed in 2010 to the position of Music Program Manager, Christy came to TAC from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, where she was the Manager of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. A graduate of York University (MA, Ethnomusicology/Musicology; 2008), her studies focused on musics and cultures of the African Diaspora, with a specialization in North American Jazz and Blues. In addition, she has previously worked with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Fine Arts Cultural Studies Department at York University, and as a music copyist. Since its inaugural season (2008), she has sat on the Board of Directors of the Brantford International Jazz Festival. She is particularly passionate about advocating for diversity, arts education, and community development through the arts.
Catalina Fellay-Dunbar, Dance & Literary Arts Programs Manager
Catalina is excited to join the TAC after many years as a dance artist, educator and advocate. Her professional dance experience, although varied, has long focused on a personal heritage in Flamenco and classical Spanish dance. Catalina’s academic interests prompted the pursuit of a BFA and MA in Dance Studies at York University, an MA from the Drama Centre at the University of Toronto, and certification in Movement Analysis from the Laban Institute for Movement Studies. As a PhD candidate in Dance Studies at York University, her research examines the intersections between cultural policy and dance arts from fluid, pluralistic perspectives. Catalina comes to the TAC after serving as co-chair of the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists – Ontario Chapter.
Timaj Garad, Outreach & Access Program Manager
Timaj is an Ethiopian-Harari multi-disciplinary artist and community organizer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Development Studies from the University of Waterloo. 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 and capacity building for Black artists, newcomers, youth, and persons with disabilities in the non-profit sector. Most recently, she has developed and managed a successful Ontario-wide bridging program for internationally-trained media and communications professionals. Timaj is known for creating and leading community arts programs such as Stellar (R)evolution: a poetry & theatre series for Black Muslimahs, Beyond a Single Story – a national storytellers’ retreat for Canadian Muslim Storytellers, and LUMINOUS Fest - Canada's first Black Muslim Arts Festival, to name a few. Timaj believes in the transformative power of the arts to strengthen communities and is deeply passionate about creating greater access and amplifying the arts in Toronto’s underserved communities.
Sarah Gladki, Communications Manager
As Communications Manager, Sarah brings her lifelong passion for the arts and strong communication and administrative skills to Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation. An active member of the arts community, Sarah is a visual artist who works in many mediums, including drawing, photography, moving images and clay. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University where she majored in both Art History and World Religions, and a Masters of Fine Arts from Ryerson University’s Documentary Media Program.
Lena Golubtsova, Strategic Programs Manager
Lena Golubtsova is an arts worker, writer and translator. She holds a Master’s degree in Literature and worked in publishing earlier in her career. Since coming to Canada in 2015, she received a graduate certificate in Arts Administration & Cultural Management from Humber College and has been working in the arts with the focus on visual, public and inter-disciplinary art. She contributed to five editions of Nuit Blanche Toronto, visual art residencies at the Banff Centre, and Awakenings program at Toronto History Museums, among other professional and creative projects. Her most heartfelt interests include access to making and experiencing art; anti-colonial perspectives and practices within immigrant communities and beyond; waste, recycling and non-materiality in the arts; mental health in times of ecological crises; feminism; becoming; and unmediated miracles of daily life.
Armen Karapetyan, Finance Officer
Armen Karapetyan has extensive working experience with numerous non-profit organizations, predominantly in administration and finance. Prior to moving to Toronto, Armen lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he held a position at the Barthelmes Conservatory of Music, a rewarding and enjoyable experience he recalls with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Immediately upon his arrival, Armen immersed himself into the Toronto art scene by volunteering with local arts organizations, including the Toronto Summer Music Festival, The Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra, Canada’s National Ballet School and b Current Performing Arts, where he assisted with administrative, marketing, and accounting duties. Armen holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and currently serves on the Board of Directors with Sinfonia Toronto.
Rachel Kennedy, Manager, Stakeholder Relations
Rachel is an arts administrator and indie theatre producer based in Toronto’s east end. After graduating from York University with specializations in Devised Theatre, Playwriting and Directing, she went on to work for Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) as their Outreach and Development Coordinator. She then took a position at Theatre Ontario as the Professional Theatre and Education Manager, overseeing various grants, education, and professional development programs, before finding her way to the TAC/TAF team. Her evenings are often spent producing for local theatre and dance companies, as well as running the Crème de la Femme cabaret series which she co-founded with fellow York graduates Shauna Sloan and Julia Matias. Rachel is passionate about advocacy, equity, and amplifying local creative voices – and is thankful to have found so many opportunities for work that embraces and furthers these values.
Peter Kingstone, Visual/Media Arts Program Manager
Peter Kingstone is a Toronto-based visual artist and curator, working primarily in video and photography. As an independent artist, Peter’s installation pieces have been shown across Canada and internationally, and he was awarded the Untitled Artist Award in 2005 for his installation The Strange Case of peter K. (1974-2004). Peter holds a degree in Philosophy/Cultural Studies from Trent University in Peterborough and a Masters of Fine Art focusing on video and new media from York University in Toronto. Peter has presented at many conferences on the ideas around storytelling and social engagement. Peter started in September 2012 as the Acting Visual/Media Arts Program Manager at Toronto Arts Council.
Elahe Marjovi, Theatre & Large Institutions Program Manager
Elahe Marjovi is an Iranian-Canadian theatre set/costume designer and arts manager. Before moving to Canada in 2014, she spent a year as a set design assistant on Broadway, and a year as invited Professor of Scenic Design at the University of Tehran. In Canada, her devotion to advocating for artists and the arts inspired her to pursue studies in arts management while working as a freelance theatre designer. She has worked for many Canadian companies including Factory Theatre, Centaur Theatre Company, Black Theatre Workshop, Teesi Duniya Theatre, and the National Arts Centre. Elahe has also worked as the fundraising officer for Tirgan, one of the largest festivals celebrating Iranian art and culture in the world. Elahe’s academic achievements include a bachelor’s degree in Architecture (Beheshti University in Iran), a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Design (University of Kansas) and a Master’s degree in International Arts Management (HÉC Montreal and SMU Dallas). Elahe's works have been recognized both locally and internationally, and she has received design nominations for a Dora Award the Fadjr Theatre Festival. She received a National Award in design excellence from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Elahe has also been awarded grants from Toronto Arts Council, Conseil des arts de Montréal, and Canada Council for the Arts
Liza Mattimore, Strategic Programs Manager
Liza Mattimore holds a B.A from the University of Toronto and a post-graduate diploma in Culture and Heritage Site Management from Centennial College. She has worked as a Theatre Producer, General Manager, and Arts Administrator for the past 10 years. Prior to joining TAC she served as a Producer for Crow’s Theatre, and as General Manager for both Theatre Direct and Cahoots Theatre. She has also held positions with organisations including Artscape; the Toronto International Film Festival; Catherine Hurley & Company, one of Canada’s leading creative consultancies; The Arcadia Artists Housing Co-Operative; and Big Bang Technology Inc. Liza is particularly interested in the intersections of new technologies, public and private partnerships, accessibility, and support for local and emerging artists.
Sarah Miller-Garvin, Grants Support Coordinator
Sarah first came to the Toronto Arts Council in 2010, after graduating from the University of Toronto, where she studied Drama and Women & Gender Studies. For a year, she worked with the brand-new Neighbourhood Arts Network, creating videos focusing on arts organizations across the city and their impact. Since then, while working as a playwright, director and media artist, Sarah has worked as a producer and arts administrator for organizations such as the Paprika Festival, Aluna Theatre and the Toronto Fringe. Sarah comes to TAC after two seasons working in events for Yonge-Dundas Square. Having grown up in downtown Toronto, Sarah is dedicated to this city and cause of promoting arts and culture within it.
Sumedha Mongia, Finance & Grants Assistant
Having moved from India, Sumedha began her career in Toronto at Toronto Arts Foundation/Council as a volunteer intern. She took on a summer project assignment in 2016 as a part of Arts in the Parks, a new initiative by the organization, and has since been associated with Toronto Arts Council, consistently expanding her role. Sumedha gained extensive experience in public relations and cultural exchange while working at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (Ministry of External Affairs, India), working on soft diplomacy initiatives and promoting an international exchange of culture and ideas. She has had the opportunity to use these skills during her employment at the Singapore High Commission, New Delhi. Prior to that, she worked with Indian television channels in the challenging environment of programming, features and events.
Sumedha is a post-graduate in TV Journalism, as well as Management, bringing in varied experience in administration, events coordination and planning, television production and research. She is also a trained dancer, having worked with communities, youth and women for nearly 20 years. She has an immense passion for building and bettering communities through dance.
Shawn Newman, Ph.D., Research & Impact Manager
Shawn comes to TAC and Toronto Arts Foundation with a background in concert dance performance and creation, as well as academia. He holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from Queen’s University, and his past research and teaching in film and media, gender studies, and performance studies has focused on de-colonial and anti-racist methodologies in creative practice, embodiment and identity. Most recently, Shawn was the Managing Editor of PUBLIC: Art | Culture | Ideas, and the Executive Director of Public Access. In these positions, Shawn initiated the re-design of PUBLIC’s digital presence through accessibility- and disability-centered approaches. He continues to do project-based work through Public Access as a member of the Public Projects Collective. Currently, Shawn is organizing PostScript: an International Symposium on Accessible Digital Publishing, to be held in May 2020. In his role as Research and Impact Manager, Shawn is responsible for overseeing the evaluation of TAC grants programs and Foundation initiatives by providing expertise, guidance, and standards for planning, measuring and evaluating the two organizations’ activities, and initiating research projects that support strategic plans.
Michelle Parson, Office Manager
As Office Manager, Michelle’s duties include administration, reception, web- and copy-editing, among other responsibilities. She’s been a part of Toronto Arts Council’s team since 1997, previously serving as Ballet Creole’s General Administrator and Human Resources Clerk in her homeland’s Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago. Michelle’s skills as a performing artist and administrator are widely recognized in her Caribbean community, having performed with Ballet Creole, COBA, Canboulay Dance Threatre, Inner Stage Theatre, Naked Mask Productions and La Petite Musicale, among others. She is a lead vocalist in a number of active bands. Michelle has recorded lead and background vocals on a number of music albums, for artists and bands such as MOKA, Kobo Town, Dick Lochan (RIP) and most significantly, on the award-winning album Far From Home by world-renowned singer Calypso Rose. Michelle serves on TAC's Equity Steering Committee.
Kevin Reigh, Creative Communities Program Manager
Kevin has over 14 years of experience working in the arts/not-for-profit sector, having previously worked at dance Immersion, the Canadian Music Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) and Unity Charity in various administrative, fundraising and outreach capacities. He also founded Mosiah Grant Writing + Creative Communications to help independent artists and smaller not-for-profit organizations navigate the world of grant writing and proposal development.
As a writer and spoken-word artist, Kevin has released one album (Ground Provisions) and a volume of poetry (Love. Universes. All Things.) and has collaborated with numerous musicians and dancers throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Kevin also contributed a spoken-word piece, The Real Deal, to Paranoid Jack’s acclaimed album of electronic and house music, The Last of the Funky Cyborgs, and his work was also included in T-Dot Griots: An Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers.
Catherine Tammaro, Indigenous Program Manager
Taomesre ~ People of the Little Turtle, Wyandot of Anderdon Nation; Wendat Confederacy
Catherine Tammaro is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practise spans decades. She is an enrolled member of the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation which is part of the Wendat Confederacy and served as their Communications Officer for many years. Catherine is a seated Spotted Turtle Clan Tradition Keeper and is active throughout the city and beyond, in many organizations as Elder in Residence, Mentor and Cultural Advisor. She is an alumna of the Ontario College of Art and has had a diverse career, multiple exhibits and installations, published written works and presentations and continues her practise as well as supporting the work and development of other artists on an ongoing basis. Catherine served on the Board of the TAC, TAC's Income Precarity Working Group and was the Chair of the Toronto Arts Council's Indigenous Advisory Committee in 2020/21.