Claire Hopkinson, M.S.M., Director & CEO – In her 11 years as Director and CEO of the two partner organizations, Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation, Claire has focused on increasing public and political understanding of the impact Toronto’s artists and organizations have on the city. 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. TAC supports the largest, most culturally diverse community of artists in Canada. Since her appointment to TAC, the Council has doubled its annual grant from City Council, undertaken extensive city-wide consultations and recently launched its strategic plan, Arts-Making 2025. Claire’s vision for Toronto Arts Foundation has resulted in strong partnerships, a doubling of the revenue base, and impactful research and strategic initiatives.
We are dedicated arts enthusiasts who believe a great city demands great art. We work collaboratively to shine a spotlight on artistic excellence, spark creative connections, and support cultural growth in our city.
The Mayor’s Arts Lunch, which Claire began in 2006, is now a much-anticipated event on the Toronto cultural calendar, and the Foundation’s Neighbourhood Arts Network has grown to 1,900 members since its inception in 2009. She played an instrumental role in moving contemporary opera from the outskirts of the field to the centre with a 25-year background in commissioning, developing and producing new works of opera and music theatre. Her evolution into arts funder – from arts producer – was a logical progression from her volunteer advocacy work as Founding Chair of Opera.ca, Vice-Chair of Opera America, and co-founder and President of Creative Trust. In the process, she has become committed to the value of developing partnerships and collaboration to further the work of artists in innovative environments. Claire won the national M. Joan Chalmers Award for Arts Administration in recognition of her contribution to Tapestry New Opera and the arts in Canada and was recognized by Theatre Ontario with the Sandra Tulloch Award for Innovation in the Arts. Claire also served as Co-Chair of the 2012 ISPA International Congress in Toronto. She sits on the President’s Advisory Council at OCADU and is Co-Chair of the Expo 2025 Canada Steering Committee.
Claire is inspired by the power of art to tell important and timely stories; art that permits us a glimpse into possible worlds.
Susan Wright, Deputy Director – Susan has been Deputy Director, and prior to that Director of Operations, for TAC and TAF since 2000. In this role, Susan oversees planning, communications, staffing and financial management and advocates for support for artists and arts organizations. 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 BeautifulCity.ca. 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.
Susan is inspired by the unique ability of arts events to connect strangers with shared inspiration.
Inés Aguileta, Acting Manager, Neighbourhood Arts Network – Inés is an arts administrator who also brings a deep background in project management. She has been involved in the arts community for nearly a decade, but has been passionate about the arts since childhood. After graduating from York University’s Honours Graphic Design program, she relocated to Spain where she earned her Master’s in Cultural Project Management at the Barcelona School of Design and Engineering. Upon her return to Toronto, she undertook the Marketing and PR Manager role at Soundstreams. Since then, she has volunteered at TEDx Boston, TIFF, and The Toronto Maker Festival. Currently at the Toronto Arts Foundation, she coordinates numerous programs for Neighbourhood Arts Network. Inés is an avid globetrotter and lover of culture, beginning with that of her native Mexico. She believes her experiences working and living in many other parts of the world have greatly benefitted her understanding and respect of many different cultures and forms of artistic expression.
Inés works with our Neighbourhood Arts Network team, matching mentors to applicants of the Newcomer & Refugee Artist Mentorship Program, and coordinating programs such as Let’s Talk Art, Creative Potluck, Making a Living Making Art, and ArtWorksTO.
Angie Aranda, Manager, Neighbourhood Arts Network – Angie has an extensive background in partnership development, event management and communications, with numerous years of arts administration experience, previously working for Entertainment One Television, Cookie Jar Entertainment and York University. She is an active member of the arts community, particularly through her photography practice. She holds a Double Honours BA from York University with a focus on Film & Video and Communication Studies. Angie is also a member on the advisory board for East End Arts and AVNU.
Angie is inspired by discovering unusual beauty in unexpected places.
Angie manages our Neighbourhood Arts Network, overseeing its programs, strategic partners, and communications, as well as manages their two award programs: the TD Community Arts Award and the RBC Arts Access Fund.
Christy DiFelice, Award Program Manager – Christy is the Music Program Manager with Toronto Arts Council, and manages the Foundation's Emerging Jazz Artist Award. 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.
Christy is passionate about advocating for diversity, arts education, and community development through the arts.
Leslie Francombe, Philanthropy & Sponsorship Manager – Leslie connects arts philanthropists with creative programs that are meaningful and impactful. Leslie, who previously worked with the Foundation from 2009 to 2011 as Community Investment Manager, has worked in a variety of capacities in both large and small organizations and communities for over 30 years, most recently as Director of Development for Tarragon Theatre. Leslie spent almost a decade as Administrative Director at Carousel Players, a theatre for young audience company based in St. Catharines, during which time the company developed their own performance space within an historic courthouse for both public and school performances while continuing to tour in schools and theatres provincially, nationally and internationally. Leslie has also worked as Development Officer for The Grand Theatre, as General Manager at Stratford Summer Music, and as Education Associate for the Shaw Festival.
Leslie is inspired by the dedication of individuals to support the arts.
Email: email@example.com; Phone: 416-392-6802 x214
Leslie works with individual donors and corporate partners to support the Foundation’s initiatives and awards, and plays a vital role in the planning of major fundraising events, including the Evening for the Arts.
Norma Garcia, Digital & Education Coordinator, Neighbourhood Arts Network – Norma is an arts adminstrator, grants consultant and independent filmmaker. Her previous work experience includes serving as a program coordinator for the National Film Board, as a senior grants assistant for the Toronto Arts Council, and as a content coordinator for BravoFACT.
Norma is excited about sharing narratives that speak about the positive impact that artistic work has in Toronto's communities.
Norma works with Inés matching mentors to applicants of the Newcomer & Refugee Artist Mentorship Program, and also leads the programs Let's Talk Art, Critical Narratives, and supports ArtWorksTO.
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.
In addition to overseeing media relations and communications for both Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation, Sarah also manages the Council’s web activities, social media accounts, and supports program outreach.
Jennifer Green, Director of Donor Engagement – The Foundation's vision, Creative City: Block by Block, is to connect every Toronto neighbourhood to the arts. Jennifer taught at Ryerson University, and has been a guest lecturer at the Schulich School of Business MBA Program in Arts and Media Administration since 2012. She serves as a volunteer to the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. In 2013, Jennifer collaborated with Tod Machover and MIT Media Lab to develop A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, now being produced by orchestras around the world. In her previous roles, Jennifer was the Executive Director of Soundstreams and the General Manager of Kaeja d'Dance.
Jennifer is inspired by artists.
As the Director of Donor Engagement, Jennifer oversees all Foundation activities, leading the team in strategic and operations planning.
Nadine Haddad, Donor Relations Coordinator – Nadine is an enthusiastic arts fundraiser with a background in music and arts management. As a young emerging arts leader in Toronto, she has worked with Opera Atelier, The National Ballet of Canada, The Regent Park School of Music and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Nadine holds a Bachelor in Music from the University of Prince Edward Island and a Graduate Diploma in Arts Management from Western University. Nadine is thrilled to be working with the Toronto Arts Foundation, connecting the city through creative and accessible arts.
Nadine supports the philanthropy and sponsorship department, processing individual gifts, managing donor databases and fulfillment of donor benefits.
Eva Hellreich, Outreach & Events Coordinator, Neighbourhood Arts Network – Eva is passionate about expanding her worldview through learning from others and recognizing lived experience as a valid form of knowledge. Raised in Toronto, Eva has worked and volunteered in a plethora of sectors in the city, including research, entertainment, tourism, education, and non-profit. Eva’s personal and academic background has fostered an interest in how storytelling can inform policy and foster social and political inclusion. Her goal is to more thoroughly conceptualize what an effective anti-oppression framework can look like in arts and culture policy, and question reproductions of power and marginalization. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English (2015) and an Master of Arts in Immigration and Settlement (2018) and is an emerging creative writer and photographer.
Eva is inspired by resiliency, resistance, and community.
Eva works with our Neighbourhood Arts Network team, supporting the coordination and logistics of many of its vital programs.
Rachel Kennedy, Executive Assistant – 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.
Rachel supports both Claire's and Susan's activities, and plays a vital role in the support of both Toronto Arts Council's and Toronto Arts Foundation's Board of Directors.
Armen Karapetyan, Finance Officer – Armen 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, an experience he recalls with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Immediately upon his arrival in Toronto, Armen immersed himself into the city's 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.
Armen is inspired by positive change, and working for an organization that is instrumental in bringing change, through local artists and art organizations, to communities we live in.
The Finance Officer for Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council, Armen is responsible for accounting, financial reporting and some logistical framework of the organizations.
Alexandra Loewen, Marketing & Events Coordinator – Alexandra has been interested in the arts from a very young age. She has been involved in instrumental and choral music as well as the visual arts. Her past work experience includes event planning, administration and project assistance and coordination. She holds a bachelor's degree in film studies from Brock University and a graduate certificate in Arts Administration and Cultural Management from Humber College.
Alexandra is inspired by the ability of art to create a tangible and lasting impact on people and places.
Alexandra supports many key Foundation programs, coordinating logistics for Arts in the Parks, Creative Champions Network, and Emerging Leaders.
Shawn Newman, Ph.D., Research & Impact Manager – Shawn comes to Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council 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 position 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 both organizations' strategic plans.
Michelle Parson, Office Manager – Before joining the Foundation's team in 1997, Michelle was General Administrator at Ballet Creole, and Human Resources Clerk at Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago. Michelle is a busy vocalist, singing with a number of bands in her Caribbean community. She has performed and toured with Ballet Creole, Inner Stage Theatre, Naked Mask and La Petite Musicale of Toronto. Numerous freelance performances have allowed her to share stages with high-profile local and international artists.
Michelle is inspired by the wisdom, talent and strength of her friends and loved ones.
As Office Manager, Michelle is the first public point of contact for both Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council and also covers our daily administrative operations, including website edits, Artistic Opportunities and the bi-monthly Volunteer Newsletter; she is also one of three staff human resources representatives, and serves on the Equity Steering Committee.
Jaclyn Rodrigues, Community Engagement Manager – Jaclyn supports Toronto Arts Foundation by developing and implementing strategy to engage stakeholder groups through outreach efforts, marketing campaigns, communications, special events, and manages their newest initiative, Arts in the Parks. Jaclyn is a graduate of Ryerson University's Performance Production program, where she studied every facet of performing arts management, from carpentry to communications. Having spent many years dancing herself, Jaclyn has worked with The Banff Centre, The Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, and Canada's National Ballet School. To date, Jaclyn is proud of her accomplishments with her work at Kaeja d’Dance as their resident graphic designer and producer, assisting with their 25th anniversary celebrations, and leading their award-winning community outreach project, Porch View Dances, from its inaugural year through to its fourth.
Jaclyn is inspired by the generosity and mentorship of arts managers, and by artists and the risk they take sharing personal stories in public spaces.
Jaclyn is responsible for the management and supports the planning of Arts in the Parks, Creative Champions Network, and Emerging Leaders activities, and plays a vital role in the oversight of the Foundation’s website, social media accounts, marketing campaigns, and our annual Mayor’s Arts Lunch.
Rupal Shah, Award Program Manager – Rupal is a Strategic Programs Manager with Toronto Arts Council and manages the Foundation's Signature Awards, which are presented each year at the Mayor's Arts Lunch. Rupal has worked as an arts manager and producer in Toronto since 2005 with organizations such as Summerworks, Nightswimming, Obsidian Theatre, Theatrefront and Harbourfront Centre. Through a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, she participated in the 2015 IETM Plenary in Bergamo, Italy, and in 2016 attended Berlin Art Week as part of an international arts delegation invited by the German Foreign Office. Since starting at TAC, Rupal has collaborated on the creation of several new initiatives, including the Newcomer and Refugee Artist Mentorship program and the TAC-FCAD Digital Solutions Incubator, a partnership with Ryerson University’s Faculty of Communications and Design.
Rupal is committed to helping newcomer artists find community.
Jini Stolk, Creative Trust Research Fellow – Jini is Creative Trust Research Fellow at Toronto Arts Foundation, a partnership which aims to expand the creative capacity of Toronto's arts community through developing a network of learning. The Fellowship supports thought leadership on the best research and practices in art-making and arts management, and shines a light on organizations that are finding new ways to adapt and change to meet the demands of our fast-changing world. Jini was co-founder and Executive Director of Creative Trust, an organization dedicated to strengthening the financial capacity and organizational potential of Toronto’s performing arts community. Before that, she led Toronto Dance Theatre, Toronto Theatre Alliance, and Open Studio. She chairs the Ontario Nonprofit Network and is a Centre for Social Innovation board member; she was previously on the Toronto Arts Council board, and chaired the Artscape, Hum dansoundart and Six Stages Theatre Festival boards. She is a recipient of the William Kilbourn Award, Sandra Tulloch Award, and Harold Award.
Jini is a tireless advocate for increased arts funding and ensuring performing arts organizations are financially sustainable.
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