CrSI 2017 Cohort members, CrSI support leads, and Metcalf Foundation staff together for a group photo via Zoom.
Creative Strategies Incubator 2017 Cohort Present Their Work at Toronto Fringe’s Next Stage Community Booster

Toronto’s arts community gathered virtually on January 21, 2021 to celebrate three years of remarkable work by five Toronto-based organizations which represent the fifth and final cohort of the Performing Arts Program’s Creative Strategies Incubator. In partnership with Toronto Fringe, the event was hosted at Next Stage Community Booster, a four-day event that featured performances from acclaimed artists, live-streamed conversations on urgent topics, online workshops that focus on mental and self-care, and more. Aluna Theatre, Canadian Opera Company, Le Théâtre français de Toronto, The Toronto Fringe, and Young People’s Theatre gave the audience a sneak-peak into their initiatives and outcomes – positive, unexpected, or otherwise – that emerged in response to their efforts to explore the potential of engaging audiences and building communities around their work.

Metcalf's President & CEO, Sandy Houston.
Metcalf Foundation President and CEO Sandy Houston welcomes the audience


Metcalf Foundation’s President and CEO Sandy Houston welcomes the audience and outlines the Foundation’s contribution to the performing arts community in Toronto through multi-year funding programs to pursue new strategic avenues to address challenges and opportunities. He describes how the Creative Strategies Incubator provided opportunities for organizations and community members to explore new practices and interrogate their own assumptions around audience engagement and community building.

CrSI Support Leads Menon Dwarka and Naomi Campbell.
Themes and outcomes presented by CrSI 2017 Support Leads Naomi Campbell and Menon Dwarka


CrSI Support Leads Menon Dwarka, Executive Director, Soundstreams, and Naomi Campbell, Artistic Director, Luminato, provide context for the CrSI program, which ran for three years from 2017 to mid-2020 and mostly took place prior to facing the challenges imposed by COVID-19. Over-arching themes and outcomes included reflections on increasing breadth, depth, and demographic diversity and specificity; opening new ways of working by adopting specific behaviours and mindsets; and building a strong community of practice.

CrSI 2017 Cohort members, CrSI support leads,

and Metcalf Foundation staff.

Meet the cohort participants as they describe what the CrSI experience meant to them


CrSI 2017 cohort members introduce themselves and share one thing that resonated for them over the course of their initiatives. Cohort members in order of presentation:  Laura Paduch (Toronto Fringe), Nikita Gourski (Canadian Opera Company), Beatriz Pizano (Aluna Theatre), Allen MacInnis (Young People’s Theatre), Ghislain Caron (Le Théâtre français de Toronto), Susan Wolf (Toronto Fringe),   Julie McIssac (Canadian Opera Company), Patty Jarvis (Canadian Opera Company), Trevor Schwellnus (Aluna Theatre), Karen Gilodo (Young People’s Theatre), Hadrien Volle (Le Théâtre français de Toronto), Amy Mushinski (Canadian Opera Company), Lucy Eveleigh (Toronto Fringe), Nina Draganic (Canadian Opera Company), Lindy Kinoshameg  (Young People’s Theatre), Joël Beddows (Le Théâtre français de Toronto), and Sue Balint (Aluna Theare).

Presentation and conversation:

The Fringe with the Canadian Opera Company


Toronto Fringe’s Executive Director Lucy Eveleigh, Managing Director Laura Paduch, and Accessibility Manager Susan Wolf gave insight into their accessibility work and discussed how you could make your organization more accessible. In conversation with Canadian Opera Company, Patty Jarvis started the conversation by asking Toronto Fringe if they could talk about how has accessibility changed and/or influenced their organizational culture and role in the community.

Presentation and conversation:

Aluna Theatre with the Young People's Theatre


Aluna Theatre’s Producer Sue Balint, Artistic Director Beatriz Pizano, and Artistic Producer Trevor Schwellnus discussed how they explored emerging bilateral relationships that could diversify artistic practices and expand their community reach. They described how they tested reaching new audiences and strengthening genuine relationships with artists, audiences, and community members. Young People’s Theatre Lindy Kinoshameg started the conversation by asking if there was a single or series of moments that were challenging but, in the end, contributed to Aluna Theatre’s growth and overall learning throughout the three-years.

Presentation and conversation:

Le Théâtre français de Toronto with The Fringe


Le Théâtre français de Toronto’s Aristic Director Joël Beddows, General Manager Ghislain Caron, and Cultural Outreach Officer Hadrien Volle described how they embarked on a journey of “self-discovery” and “outreach” to grow as an organization and safeguard the cultural life of all francophones and francophiles in the Greater Toronto Area. Toronto Fringe’s Laura Paduch began the conversation by asking TfT to reveal the most surprising challenge they encountered through their journey.

Presentation and conversation:

Canadian Opera Company with Aluna Theatre


Canadian Opera Company’s Director, COC Ensemble Studio and Orchestra Academy Nina Draganic; Strategic Advisor and Artistic Associate Nikita Gourski; former colleague Patty Jarvis; Director/Dramaturge-in-Residence Julie McIssac; and Director of Public Affairs & Community Partnerships Amy Mushinski discussed what it would mean to leverage underutilized infrastructure to explore new pathways of artistic expression and relationship-building by re-imagining their underutilized space at 227 Front Street East as a Culture Hub. Aluna Theatre’s Trevor Schwellnus began the conversation by asking how they implemented change across all departments of the company over the past three-years.

Presentation and conversation:

Young People's Theatre with Théâtre français de Toronto


Young People’s Theatre Artistic Director Allen MacInnis, Associate Artistic Director Karen Gilodo, and Community Participation Manager Lindy Kinoshameg shared their vision for success: every aspect of Young People’s Theatre reflects the Seven Ancestral Teachings. They spoke about their personal experiences and workshops exploring the Anishinabe principles of Respect, Bravery, Love, Humility, Honesty, Wisdom, and Truth. Le Théâtre français de Toronto’s Ghislain Caron begins the conversation by asking if they found allies in unexpected places.