Vanessa Herrick is a writer, photographer and videographer with a strong passion for advocacy, community development and capacity building.
Vanessa is already known to many ELAN members and partners through her work with Just for Laughs, The Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, and The Montreal World Film Festival. Vanessa was also the Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Centaur Theatre Company in the early 2000s, and worked in production on major films such as The Bone Collector, Battlefield Earth, and Rollerball.
In 2008, Vanessa enrolled at Concordia University to study journalism. She was awarded the Don McGillivray Memorial Prize for Explanatory Journalism for “Bombs and Diplomacy” in 2009, and in 2010 Vanessa received the Canadian International Development Agency’s Journalism and Development award. After graduating from Concordia, Vanessa pursued further studies in a masters program in International Communications and Development at City University, London, England.
Vanessa then worked in international development, journalism, and communications in places such as Afghanistan, Kosovo and dozens of other countries.
In 2019, Vanessa turned her focus back to Quebec became the first Executive Director of Seniors Action Quebec, a Quebec-based not-for-profit focused on advocacy and community-building for English-speaking seniors.
Deborah Forde director, dramaturge, playwright arts administrator.
In 1999, after over 20 years in community development, Deborah’s work led her to the practice of professional community engaged arts through the study of Theatre for Development at Concordia. Emerging first as a director, with Bryan James’s Terminal,Terminal and Rahul Varma’s State of Denial, Deborah went on to spend two years supporting other emerging artists through Black Theatre Workshop’s YouthWorks, and 3 years serving the English-speaking theatre community as Executive Director for the Quebec Drama Federation. She has also recently directed the inaugural production of Canada’s first Muslim theatre company, inaugural production of Canada’s first Muslim theatre company, Silk Road Institute, and is the former coordinator for Teesri Duniya Theatre Fireworks program. Currently, Deborah is director of operations for ELAN and freelances with the goal of continuing to support emerging artists and facilitate community connection to, and through, theatre.
Swati has two decades of TV and Film production experience in India, working on everything from scripting, shooting, costumes, direction and postproduction for TV shows, studio films and indies. As a Creative Director for a number of entertainment channels, her focus was non-fiction programming. Swati helmed super-hit reality shows like the Indian syndicated versions of Dancing with the Stars, Fear Factor, and Bachelorette. She also produced a number of live award shows. At NDTV (English language news) and MTV India, Swati produced entertainment news shows and worked as on-air talent.
In Canada, Swati has worked for a number of arts and entertainment organizations, including the Teesri Duniya Theatre, The Fringe Festival, Just for Laughs and the South Asian Film Festival. Her work has spanned events production and management, as well as more creative pursuits. She served as a creative producer for educational short films about Bollywood for Concordia University’s Media Studies program. She also designed costumes for plays produced by Silk Road Institute and was critically appreciated for her work. Currently, she is the Program Manager at ELAN where she oversees the Arted and Arts2U projects.
Iso is a filmmaker and interdisciplinary artist based in Tiotià:ke/Montreal since 2017. Utilizing moving images, text, and textiles, their work addresses questions of visibility, sense and memory in documentary film. Their current research focuses on eruvin as an installation of Jewish life and queer orientations in urban space. Originally from Buffalo, New York, Iso received a BA in Political Studies and Electronic Media Arts from Simon’s Rock in 2017, and an MFA in Film Production from Concordia University in 2021.
Lauren Katherine Clinton is a singer, performer, songwriter, and writer. In Toronto she studied music theatre at Etobicoke School of the Arts before heading west to the University of Victoria for a BFA in Creative Writing. In Montreal she completed an MA in English Literature with a creative writing thesis at McGill. Lauren has built a career performing as Lou Laurence. In 2016, she sang lead vocals and co-wrote songs on DJ Champion’s album, Best Seller. She has self-released four EP’s, toured Canada and the UK, and performed on TV specials such as, Belle et Bum, Gala Artis, and Gala Célébration. She has a background in working with adult English language learners and has worked with francophone musicians in studio as an English pronunciation coach and supported a number of visual artists with English language arts applications. Currently, Lauren is the Communications Coordinator at ELAN.
Nick Maturo holds an M.A. in Communications Studies from McGill University and a B.F.A. in Electroacoustic Studies from Concordia University. His ongoing research considers musician labour and the role of institutions within the rapidly evolving field of online music distribution. As an artist, Nick has been active in Montréal’s experimental music community for over ten years and has performed at the Suoni Per Il Popolo and MUTEK festivals.
Francisco Gonzalez-Rosas is a performance and new media artist established in Tiohtià:ke / Montréal since 2016. He holds a BA in Acting from Finis Terrae University, Santiago, Chile and a Master in Fine Arts in Intermedia, from Concordia University. His practice integrates sound, image, performance, video and installation. Questions of representation, gender, race, digital culture, image and technology are at the core of his work.
IT Coordinator and Consultant
Andre Athanasiadis has come to be known as the go-to IT professional of the Montreal arts community. With a breadth of experience in computer systems and networks since 1996, Andre has brought his expertise to numerous technical schools, universities, and arts organizations. Over the years, his work has been trusted by, among many others, McGill University, Teesri Duniya Theatre and the Quebec Drama Federation. ELAN is proud to have Andre as one of our longest contributing staff for over ten years.
Guy Rex Rodgers
ELAN Founder, Waves of Change Project Manager
A graduate of the playwriting program at the National Theatre School of Canada, Guy Rex Rodgers has worked in film and television, and specialized in writing large-scale multimedia productions for museums and special events across Canada, as well as the US, Europe and the Middle East. He has also worked in television, interviewing artists for the Montreal International Jazz Festival and writing TV specials. He recently wrote a pictorial history book for Montreal’s Welcome Hall Mission to commemorate their 125th anniversary. He is also a musician and has recently performed in several editions of Tim Brady’s symphonies for 100 guitarists. In 2015 he was appointed to l’Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec.
A long-time arts activist, Guy Rex Rodgers was co-founder of the Quebec Drama Federation (QDF) and the Quebec Writers’ Federation (QWF), was a member of the founding board of le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ), and was Executive Director of the English-Language Arts Network from its inception in 2004 until 2021.
Christie Huff helps organizations in the arts, community and education sectors to align with the needs of the people they aim to serve to achieve measurable social impact. Her goal is to empower the people she works with to approach their challenges as collaboratively as possible so that their change efforts may be successful and sustained. Before completing her Master’s degree in Human Systems Intervention (2012, Concordia), she had undergraduate degrees in economics and commerce, a Certificate in Adult Training & Development (OISE), and experience working with for-profit, government, and non-profit organizations and social enterprises. Christie currently oversees ELAN’s strategic approach to connecting Artists with Educators through the ACE Initiative and the soon-to-be launched Micro- Grant program.
Digital Solutions, ARTS2U
A 30 year veteran of the music industry Dan has led projects in digital distribution, sales and marketing, ticketing, artist development, and festival development. Dan is currently managing ELAN’s (English Language Arts Network, Quebec) research on Digital Solutions, and managing the ELAN’s ARTS2U prototype development. In 2019 Dan will lead a Canada Council – DSF funded project that develop connections and collaborations among digital initiatives. In 2018, the music company Dan founded ‘Greenland Productions’ celebrated 25 years in business. In 2014 Dan created TIXZA, a ticket solution for small venues. Dan is co-founder of Osheaga Music Festival and the creator of the Green Stage at Osheaga. Dan’s early work in co-creating the peer to peer file sharing technology FLIPR in 1999 was his first foray into offering a solution for artists to self-distribute music in the internet age.
Betty Esperanza has been building communities worldwide for two decades through her passion to unite people of all cultures to champion causes in the philanthropic and arts and culture spheres. She studied diplomacy and business development and marketing while juggling careers as an artist, musician and entertainment manager of Canadian Jazz Musician, Vic Vogel for 10 years, as well as an avid street photographer participating in over 30 International exhibits where some of her black and white series “A BOOK ABOUT DEATH” are archived in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA NY and MoMA Wales), American Art at the Smithsonian Institution and Musee des Livres de Paris to name a few.
She is part of the TED Talks brand and a recent Radio Canada documentary “L’Esperanza de Cuba” tells her story in Cuba about her non-profit, Skateboards For Hope which empowers youth using skateboarding as a tool to break the cycle of poverty. It brought her attention to meet Oprah in 2013 and most recently received the Maria Brown Humanitarian Award for her commendable community work. Betty is also the Founder of 100 Thousand Poets 4 Change Festival, an annual open mic poetry event in its 10th year providing a safe space for inclusion and diversity. Her latest endeavour is working as Project Manager on ELAN’s Waves of Change documentary project which will shine a spotlight on English Speaking Quebeckers, artists and communities.
Born in Damascus in 1987 and based in Montreal since 1995, Youssef Shoufan is a photographer, author, filmmaker and initiator of multiple projects active in the artistic, cultural and social communities in Montreal. His interests in minimalist aesthetics and his values of social justice and representation of marginalized narratives are at the heart of his work.
Observer and explorer, curious and creative, Youssef uses his professional and personal communication skills as vectors of positive change for local and international projects for short and long term impacts.
Youssef loves traveling, meeting other human beings, playing chess and water polo, snowboarding and water slides. Mediator and agnostic, he likes reading and playing with words, eating fresh pistachios, listening to and singing to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and enjoying photography, cinema, design and art that transforms positively our planet.
In 2020, Youssef joined ELAN’s Waves of Change team, and is responsible for directing and editing the video documentation of the project.
Bobbi Jo Hart is an award-winning filmmaker and community outreach consultant who passionately harnesses the power of storytelling to amplify the voices of disadvantaged and marginalized members of our society. By building bridges of understanding through her documentary films and community engagement initiatives, she is dedicated to celebrating our shared humanity. Bobbi Jo has created many community projects utilizing art and music therapy, be it to engage schoolchildren, senior citizens or at-risk youth. Her career has taken her to countries as diverse as Pakistan, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, the United States, Russia, Australia, Poland and Guatemala. Bobbi Jo’s favourite quote is by Thich That Hanh: “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way”.
State of the Arts – 2019
Farah is an arts manager, performer and artist who for over 15 years has been using the arts as a mechanism to teach about equality, rights, personal histories, self-actualization and community bridging. She is rooted in working with cross-cultural populations to promote the arts to a diversity of communities and to outreach to new audiences to overcome emotional and cultural barriers. Farah co-founded, with Julio Hong, Le Groupe Herencias, whose mandate is to use the arts for the promotion, exchange, and acceptance of identity, culture and heritage through creation, art education, training, and creative arts therapies. Farah is also a public speaker for organizations who use the arts as a means to strategize for economic development, goal setting, re- visioning, or for those who want an experience simply for the love of the arts.
Arts Alive! Québec (2017 – 2018)
(Arts Alive Québec summer 2017 and 2018) — Following a long career as a professional stage manager, Concordia University lecturer, and subsequently General Manager of Geordie Productions, Anne now free-lances in a variety of administrative roles, currently with Centaur Theatre, McGill University, and ELAN.
Performing Arts Market Access Project Manager – Workshops (2017 – 2019)
June is an arts consultant, writer and cultural connector based in Montreal. She has worked in Montreal for several arts organizations including Youtheatre, Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal and RUBBERBANDance Group. She sat on the Executive Board of the Quebec Drama Federation as Treasurer and was Director of Marketing for Opera Ontario/Opera Hamilton, and Development Associate at the Royal Ontario Museum. She continues to work with various groups committed to increasing the visibility and integration of culturally diverse artists from all disciplines. June has her M.A. from the University of Toronto, B.A. from U of Calgary, and studied arts management at the University of Waterloo, Cultural Careers Council of Ontario. She is currently finishing a manuscript while working as a freelance grant writer, agent, and arts administrator.
Emilia has worked in the professional international performing arts community as a producer, administrator and agent both for independent artists and for festivals including FTA, CINARS and Pop Montréal. In 2015, Emilia was the Performing Arts Market Access Coordinator for ELAN, where she researched and proposed over a dozen touring strategies for the anglophone performing arts community in Québec, which are now being partly implemented through the PAMA workshops and showcases projects. Her expertise lies in international contemporary performance touring networks. Emilia studied Photography and Mathematics at Concordia University, and is starting a doctorate in Mathematics in the Fall.
Performing Arts Market Access – Showcases Assistant (2017-2019)
With a Marketing degree from Concordia University and an avid interest in arts and culture management, Mariam has been working in the arts, mostly in music, since 2008. She has worked for festivals, associations promoting local talent, managed bands, and organized many concerts and events for both local and international artists.
Project Manager – Visiting Curators Series 2017
Stephen Lawson is a multidisciplinary artist who continually crosses the boundaries of theatre, music, television, performance art, curatorial practice, radio, print and video. He has worked in various capacities as a cultural worker and organizer, and since 2001 he has been collaborating with artist Aaron Pollard as 2boys.tv, creating and touring transmedia performances, installations and videos internationally.
Project Manager – Visiting Curators Series 2017
Ximena Holuigue works as a curator and facilitator for interdisciplinary projects which has allowed her to create a cultural bridge with Cuba through diverse cultural exchanges, among them, working as assistant-curator to the director in the Havana Biennial 2015 Edition. Since 2016, she is the project manager of the Montreal-Havana art exchange, funded by the Montreal Arts Council and led by the RCAAQ institution in Montreal. She is also the creative producer for Para Todos For Todos, a documentary about El Mejunje, an LGBT performance venue and community center based in Santa Clara, Cuba (out in 2018). She continues to work as a facilitator, project manager and fixer in various art, film and music related projects in Cuba and abroad.
Richard “Bugs” Burnett
Project Manager – Digital Shift Project 2014
Dubbed “Mr. Montreal” by CBC Arts, Richard “Bugs” Burnett is an arts and culture journalist and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. He is also a pop culture pundit on radio and television. His pioneering column Three Dollar Bill is the only syndicated LGBTQ column in Canadian publishing history, and is now archived in Toronto’s The ArQuives (formerly the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives), the largest independent LGBTQ archive in the world. Bugs has interviewed everybody from Cher to Justin Trudeau, and got the last-ever sit-down interview with the late James Brown. Bugs knows his hometown like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter. Tourisme Montréal says, “As Michael Musto is to New York City, Richard Burnett is to Montreal.”