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.
Natasha Eck is a passionate arts educator and advocate for girl’s health & well-being. She has created & facilitated creative arts programs for communities across the GTA for well over a decade and is currently an occasional teacher for DDSB. She is a York University alumnus with a BFA in dance and a Bachelor in Education. Natasha is also a graduate of the Sacred Leaders Training Program which explores leadership from an ancient African perspective combined with contemporary leadership practices. Ms. Eck believes that dance/movement provides opportunities to enhance a sense of community, and deepened self-awareness. Natasha recently created a program called ShEmpowered™ which provides support for girls and young women in accepting their bodies, expressing emotions, and experiencing a greater sense of community amongst other girls.
Marta Keller-Hernandez - Originally from Spain, Marta Keller-Hernandez holds Degrees in Tourism and Humanities, a Masters in Social Media Marketing from the University of Alicante (Spain), and a Graduate Certificate in Culture and Heritage Site Management from Centennial College. In Toronto, Marta has worked with a wide range of arts and culture organizations such as Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue, Latin American Canadian Art Projects and Sur Gallery, Heritage Toronto, and Art Starts. Currently Mural Routes’ Managing Director, Marta is also the co-founder of Paralia Newcomer Arts Network, the recipient of the Newcomer and Refugee Artist Mentorship grant in the capacity of mentor and a Toronto Arts Council 2018 Leaders Lab fellow.
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.