Community Arts Committee
Cara Eastcott, Chair is a freelance arts producer and cultural animator. She has developed arts programs that have bridged artistic and non-artistic communities in cities across Canada. Previously, Cara held multiple leadership positions at Tangled Art + Disability; a Deaf and disability arts gallery and organization in Toronto. During this time, she produced year-round programming in festival and gallery formats, led 3 Ontario-wide tours and expanded the organization’s connection to new and diverse audiences. She has a longstanding history of commitment to building community through the arts, as well as a specialization in accessibility. She currently serves on the Board of Directors and is Chair of the Community Arts Committee for Toronto Arts Council.
Afi Browne, Creating safer spaces for the queer and trans community is an integral part of Afi Browne's life. They are a black, Trini settler, queer, gender queer, multi-disciplinary artist and community worker who is committed to social justice. Afi is most passionate about integrating the arts with their community work as the arts can be used to bring about healing in individuals and communities. In their personal art practice, they are primarily a jeweler, using recycled materials to make Afro-futuristic pieces. Afi is also a costume designer, vocalist and performer. They are the founder and program coordinator of Krafty Queers, an award-winning arts and crafts skill share for queer and trans people. They also work at Skylark as an LGBTQ Youth Outreach Worker.
Jamaias DaCosta (Kanien’keha:ka, Cree, Irish, French, and Jamaican (Colombian, African, Portuguese, Sephardic Jew) ) is a mother, facilitator, spoken word performer, writer, deejay, radio geek and a lover of futurist resurgence movements. Through spoken word, radio, and arts based facilitation and training, Jamaias’ work focuses on critical deconstruction of colonial narratives, ancestors and identity, and celebration of Black and Indigenous futurism. Jamaias (aka Jams) has been co-host, deejay and producer of The Vibe Collective radio show since 2007, and producer of Indigenous Waves Radio since 2011, both on CIUT 89.5FM. Jamaias is currently the Manager of Programs and Development at the Children’s Peace Theatre and sits on the advisory Board of Mixed in Canada. Jamaias will be releasing her first spoken word recording project Blood Memory on the Dance Floor in early 2018.
Joy Lapps-Lewis is a musician, composer and arts educator. Her instrument of choice is the steelpan and she is passionate about using steelband music and other artforms to enhance quality of life and build stronger communities. Joy has worked and volunteered with several organizations such as Sistema Toronto, the Neighbourhood Arts Network Advisory Committee and Mariposa in the Schools. She currently sits on the board of directors at Drum Artz Canada.
Victoria Mata is a Venezuelan-Canadian choreographer, dancer, and director. Mata’s career has involved self-directed training, residencies – for example at the Banff Arts Centre, Counter Pulse, African American Art & Culture, and Centro de Investigación Coreográfica del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes de México – and mentorships with internationally renowned choreographers such as Debbie Wilson, Nicola Pantin, and Jose Carret. Mata has been an active member of Toronto’s progressive arts and activist community for over a decade, and is the co-founder of MataDanZe Collective and conSECUENCIAS. Mata is an audacious visionary rooted in community, inspiring risk and utilizing art as a vehicle for social change, and creating spaces to voice marginalized communities. Mata’s emotive work has journeyed through Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, U.S.A. and Canada. As a director, Mata recently produced 200 celebrations in eight weeks in over 130 Canadian communities for the Torch Relay of the Toronto 2015 PanAm/ ParaPanAm Games. Since completing her Masters of Fine Arts in Contemporary Choreography at York University, Mata continues to be a catalyst for artistic curiosity and the unpacking of the diaspora experience by exploring migrant identities. With Aluna Theatre, Mata was awarded a Metcalf Foundation Performing Arts Internship, and as Artistic Director Intern is exploring a hybrid of languages in performance under the mentorship of Beatriz Pizano, Dora-award winner, playwright and director of Aluna Theatre.
Kai ner Maa Pitanta Born in Montreal Quebec, Kai ner Maa has been involved in education for 25 years in which he has experience as an educator, counsellor, and program leader for children, youth, and families in community, residential, and institutional settings. He has worked to develop integrated curriculum experiences emphasizing African spiritual principles as an integral tool for instruction and cognitive development. Kai ner Maa has spent the last 9 years in promoting creative approaches to teaching culturally relevant social and spiritual principles to young learners through the arts with a particular emphasis on directing children’s theatre. He is the script writer and artistic director for Right Path World Arts Centre
Nikki Shaffeeullah is a theatre-maker, performer, facilitator, writer, and community-engaged artist. Currently, she serves as artistic director of The AMY Project, a, barrier-free devised theatre and arts mentorship program for young women and non-binary youth; the founder of Parallel Tracks, a national training program for community-engaged artists of colour, launched in 2017; and a resident of Canadian Stage Company director development program. She is past editor-in-chief of alt.theatre, Canada’s magazine dedicated to the intersections of politics, cultural plurality, social activism, and the stage. She has worked with Jumblies Theatre on local, regional, and national community-engaged arts projects, and trained in artistic direction at Jumblies with the support of Metcalf Foundation. As a social justice trainer, Nikki develops workshops on equity and community engagement for arts organizations, and is currently honing her facilitation practice as a fellow in the Judith C. Jones Fellowship for Trainers of Colour with Philadelphia’s Training for Change. Nikki holds an MFA in Theatre Practice from the University of Alberta, and is a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. Nikki's art is informed by longtime anti-racist, feminist, and queer movement organizing, and a family who loves music, food, puns, and justice. She believes art should disrupt the status quo; centre the margins; engage with the ancient; dream of the future; and be for everyone.