FUTURES/forward Mentors

Meet our FUTURES/forward mentors!

We are honoured to introduce our FUTURES/forward community-engaged artist mentors who have many years of experience in the field!


In her music, Holly Arntzen has found a magical formula: that blend of art, life and interests that moves people. She has in essence created her own form of folk music by writing songs dedicated to life, nature and the Earth. She co-founded the Artist Response Team (ART, 1991) which has developed award-winning programs — Voices of Nature school music programs and community concerts — that, over the past 20 years, have involved hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and parents alike in singing songs about ecology, recording them on CDs, and performing in concerts, television and radio shows. A library of unique music-based learning resources weaves together songs, ecological science and Indigenous world view. The Good Medicine Songs project has evolved out of two decades of collaborating with First Nations Elders, Singers and language holders to create bilingual songs in English and First Nations languages. She has been taking these programs online with the Sing Out For The Earth singing sessions, and Voices Of Nature Rocks! episodes to help teachers and parents of distance-learning students. Her band, The Wilds, can be found tromping up and down watersheds singing the gospel of wild salmon, oceans, rivers and ancient forests.Holly is committed to share her passion for music and the natural world so that what she loves will be loved by others. She is living proof that education through music can make a difference, and believes…”If it ain’t fun…it’s not sustainable!” (Guy Dauncey) ArtistResponseTeam.com  www.VoicesOfNature.ca  www.TheWildsBand.com


Laura Barron is a musician, writer, facilitator and community artist. Her diverse 30-year career as a flutist has brought her from the Yukon to New Zealand to Carnegie Hall. With a doctorate from McGill, for 10 years she served on the faculties of the Universities of OR, WI & N. AZ, mentoring emerging artists. She has always strived for relevance in her work, and now harnesses her experience as a performer and teacher in her role as the founder /Executive Director of Instruments of Change. This Vancouver-based non-profit leads numerous community arts initiatives that engage with incarcerated women in Canada, at-risk youth in India, educators in Zambia, and many other diverse groups. It is in this capacity that she has been able to have her greatest reach and impact, designing experiences that empower underserved and often marginalized individuals to become instruments of change in their own lives as they find their own creative voices. Laura also accepts numerous public speaking invitations to share principles and best practices in Arts for Social Change. And she brings all of these experiences together in her new writing project, Key Changes, a novel based on the healing power of music. https://www.laurabarron.net/index.html


Sharon Bayly is a performing artist whose practice is rooted in physical theatre, clown and ensemble-based creation. She trained at the Dell ‘Arte School of Physical Theatre in California, and holds a BFA in Theatre and Development from Concordia University. She is also a Red Seal journeyed carpenter and currently runs one of the wood shops at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. For over a decade Sharon worked as a stilt performer, actor and then co-Artistic Director of Mortal Coil Performance Society, a Vancouver-based theatre company that utilizes popular styles of theatre and spectacle including stilts, puppets, giant puppets, music and dance in creating both indoor and outdoor work. For several years Sharon has been one of the lead artists in the community-engaged project Arts and Health Project: Healthy Aging Through the Arts, where she leads groups of seniors in the art of puppetry and performance. She is also an active performing member of The Assembly, an all-female clown collective based in Vancouver, BC.


Seanna Connell is Co-Founder & Executive Director of ArtBridges (2008 – present). Founder and Legacy Project Coordinator: A Home for Creative Opportunity/ ArtHeart Community Art Centre (1991-present). Community-engaged artist & visual arts project & program coordinator for inner-city Toronto drop-ins for children, youth and adults including the homeless (1988-2000); Artist with: Artists Environment Forum (Toronto), Amazon Awareness Expedition (Ecuador & Peru), San Juan Bosco Orphanage (Honduras), Pambazuko & Majengo orphanages (Tanzania). Current Boards: Majengo Canada; Previously: ArtHeart Community Art Centre, Children’s Own Museum. Founding Committee Advisor: Art City St. Jamestown, Advisor: 220 Oak St. Potters.


David was a founding member and Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Headlines Theatre which later evolved into Theatre for Living from 1981 to 2018, when he devolved the theatre company and started to work independently.David has directed many hundreds of projects throughout Canada, the US and Europe, as well as in Namibia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, India, Palestine and Singapore on issues of violence, addiction, mental health, legacy of Residential Schools, reconciliation, homelessness and climate change to name just some. He has pioneered the development of live, interactive Forum television and web casting. David is visiting Faculty at the UNESCO Peace Studies Program in Austria, and also Visiting Theatre Director at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta. He has been honoured with many theatre and human rights awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Fraser Valley. His award-winning book, Theatre for Living: the art and science of community-based dialogue came out in German under the title Theater Zum Leben in 2012, and in Spanish under the title Teatro para la Vida in 2019.


Kendra Fanconi is the Artistic Director of The Only Animal, a decade-old company that is uniquely dedicated to theatre that springs from a deep engagement with place, and towards solutionary outcomes for this climate moment. She is known for her love of the impossible. Selected Credits for directing/writing: tinkers, based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel by Paul Harding, Nothing But Sky, a living comic book (Jessie for Significant Artistic Achievement), NiX, theatre of snow and ice, at the 2010 Cultural Olympiad and Enbridge Festival, Alberta Theatre Projects 2009, (Winner of Betty Mitchell Award and Vancouver’s Critic’s Choice Award for Innovation). Last year she directed the world premiere of Slime, by British playwright, Bryony Lavery. Current projects include Year of the Typewriter and Museum of Rain. Kendra lives on the land on the far left coast of Canada, and is a farmer, a forager, and mother to two kids who are real characters.


Patti Fraser is the 2013 recipient of the Vancouver Mayor’s Art Award for Community Engagement. A founding member of Leaky Heaven Circus and a founding member of the nationally recognized Summer Visions Film Institute for Youth, her work focuses on the use of narrative to investigate vital issues the community shares through a variety of artistic mediums. This work has been recognized as best practices in a diversity of fields including the Chee Mah Muk Aboriginal Education Centre with the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She was an artist-in-resident for four years in the Arts, Health, and Seniors Research Project. In addition to serving as research associate with ASC, she is currently a co-artistic director media of The Housing Matters Media Project. This project is working in partnership with the Vancouver Foundation. Her most recent work titled The 19th Birthday Party was created in collaboration with youth who have experienced government care for the Vancouver Foundation’s Youth and Homelessness Initiative. She has written and co-created for theatre and national radio. http://pattifraser.com/


Dale has been writing, producing and directing all-inclusive theatre for over 30 years, following an apprenticeship in the 1980’s with England’s Colway Theatre Trust (now Claque Theatre). She is growing somewhat accustomed to sometimes being referred to as one of the “grandmothers” of community engaged theatre in Canada.She is the founding Artistic Director of Everybody’s Theatre Company (ETC) and has produced and written 13 community engaged theatre projects since 1990, when she created The Eramosa Community Play, a two-year, 120-cast member project which had lasting social and political impacts on the community and is widely considered to have sparked the community engaged theatre movement in Canada. Over the years, ETC has evolved its own distinct approach, focusing on process-driven creative community development and a “theatrical walk” style, with landscapes and streetscapes becoming part of the narrative. Dale was involved in early lobbying efforts to create community arts funding categories and has been the recipient of numerous arts council and foundation grants. She is also co-director of Lateral Strategies, an international consulting company specializing in performance-based community development. Dale has conducted workshops in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Kenya, South Africa and Brazil. Dale’s work has received extensive media attention, including The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star and CBC Radio and is the subject of a published thesis and two video documentaries. She has also written a self-published a novel, called The Township of Paradox, a quasi-fictional story set at the intersection of community arts and social activism. And in 2018 she was admitted directly to the Master Program at York University, where she is focussing on the arts as a tool for environmental awareness and action. Dale is the widow of Coast Salish Indigenous artist Harold (Hyhatsa) Rice and lives in the hamlet of Eden Mills near Guelph Ontario, where, presently, she is hunkering down during the pandemic with their two young adult offspring.


Videomaker Flick Harrison is a writer, media artist, filmmaker, hacker, educator and drone pilot in Vancouver. He has a consulting project, Polity, which aims to support mission-driven organizations making media and engaging their publics. Starting out on the CBC youth series Road Movies as one of Canada’s first professional videographers, he’s since made video in Pakistan, the US, Mexico and China. As part of Something Collective, he helped pilot the City of Vancouver’s Field House community-artist residencies. His work includes teaching media production and literacy, designing projections for theatre and dance, making music video and consulting on media technology.  https://flickharrison.com/


Judith Marcuse, has worked in the arts for over five decades as a dancer, choreographer, director, producer, educator, consultant, writer and lecturer. Trained in dance in Canada, the US and in England, she performed for more than 20 years with Canadian and European companies, including with the repertory dance company she founded in 1980 which toured across Canada and abroad for 15 years.  She has created more than 100 touring dance/theatre/film works and produced six large-scale arts festivals. For the last 20 years, her internationally-recognized work has focused on community-engaged art for social change (ASC), including three 6-year projects with youth. She teaches, speaks and consults internationally.In 2007, Marcuse founded the International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC). More recently, she has led a six-year study of ASC in Canada while also teaching undergraduate courses and establishing a two-year graduate program in the field. She is a recipient of major awards, including an honorary doctorate. In 2019, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Network for Arts and Learning. https://icasc.ca/judith-marcuse-projects/


Dr. Claire Robson is a writer, researcher, and arts activist. Her federally funded postdoctoral research at Simon Fraser University investigated the potential of arts-engaged community practices. A widely published writer of fiction, memoir, and poetry, Claire’s most recent book, Writing for Change, shows how collective memoir writing can effect social change. Her awards include Xtra West Writer of the Year, the Joseph Katz Memorial Scholarship (for her contributions to social justice), and the Lynch History Prize (for her contributions to better understanding of gender and sexual minorities).


Rup Sidhu is an interdisciplinary artist and facilitator residing on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Skxwú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh nations (Vancouver BC.) As an artist, Rup’s work reflects his upbringing and is a cultural hybrid of musical expressions ranging from groove oriented hip hop beats, to contemporary fusions of classical ragas; remixes of vintage bollywood tunes to ambient creations. He has been nominated for both Leo and Jesse awards for his original compositions for dance, theatre and film productions. Rup has produced fourteen albums with emerging artists, including Shane Koyzan’s debut release American Pie and PIQSIQ’s debut album Altering the Timeline. Rup’s solo family-oriented project, RupLoops, has toured internationally and across Canada, logging over 500 performances to date, in schools, theatres, and festivals to critical acclaim. As a facilitator, Rup’s work meets at the intersection of social justice and the arts. For the past 20 years he has been growing his understanding and leading workshops based in anti-oppression and liberation-based practices. He has facilitated and taught programs in universities, public schools, youth prisons, and communities throughout Canada, USA, UK and India. Rup brings a focused presence, strong leadership skills and a contagious enthusiasm, which effectively engages, inspires and guides participants through his process-oriented work. rupsidhu.com ruploops.com rubysingh.ca


Susanna Uchatius has worked for over 35 years directing, writing, acting and teaching theatre. Her theatre BFA is from SFU School for Contemporary Arts, voice at the Banff Centre for the Arts with Richard Armstrong, the UBC National Voice Intensive, and work with Anne Bogart of Siti Theatre NY to name a few. She is an Equity, CAEA member and also a member of IFTR (International Federation of Theatre Research) and Playwrights Guild of Canada. Susanna has been the Artistic Director of Theatre Terrific, Western Canada’s longest running inclusive theatre company for artists of all abilities, cultures, gender identities and ages in Vancouver, since 2005. She has written, directed and collaboratively developed over 30 professional, community and site-specific productions pioneering an accessible respectful, rigorous and risk-taking collaborative theatre ensemble process towards the creation of productions that address the universal human issues of today, yesterday and tomorrow. Susanna is honoured to respectfully and collaboratively create radical inclusive theatre that supports the lived stories, remarkable perceptions, and profound truths of humanity in all it’s mosaic wonder.


I am a Settler Canadian, born and raised on the territory of the Multnomah peoples in Oregon. For the past 15 years I have been a visitor on the unceded traditional territories of the Lekwungen speaking peoples (the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations). I am a theatre director, playwright, producer, and storyteller, and have written five books on different approaches to co-creating theatre with people in communities about the issues that matter to them. Much of my arts-based community engagement work is focused on advocacy for social justice, reducing stigma, giving voice to marginalized communities, and using performance to promote peer education about the legacy and impact of colonialism and the importance of supporting Indigenous communities and cultural resurgence. I have a PhD in Applied Theatre from the University of Victoria and am a graduate of the National Theatre Institute and Oberlin College in the US. https://www.willweigler.com/

With gratitude, we wish to acknowledge the generous support for: cohort #1 by the McConnell Foundation, Heritage Canada, and Judith Marcuse Projects; cohort #2 by the McConnell Foundation, the City of Vancouver, and Judith Marcuse Projects; cohort#3 by the McConnell Foundation, Judith Marcuse Projects, and the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and Community Foundations of Canada

Government of Canada McConnell Foundation City of Vancouver | Cultural Services Judith Marcuse Projects (JMP) Logo



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