Creative SpaceMaking Vancouver speaker biographies

Valerie ArntzValerie Arntzen

Visual Artist and former Executive Director, Eastside Culture Crawl Society

I have been an artist in Vancouver for over 20 years. My mediums are assemblage, collage and photography. My work has been in several local and national shows, in private collections and international collections.

I have worked with artists in several capacities with the major one being a founding director of the Eastside Culture Crawl Society and eventually the executive director for 11 years. I was also on the Cultural Facilities Implementation Team 2009-2010 for the City of Vancouver. My latest venture with artists is First Saturday Open Studios. 


Barb BesnerBarb Besner

Program Manager, Creative Placemaking Lab, Artscape

Barb contributes to the planning, coordination, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of the department’s programs and activities. Barb has worked and studied in Canada and the United States, and has ten years’ experience in research, community engagement and facilitation, and cultural policy. Before joining Artscape, Barb worked as a planner, researcher and arts administrator in both the private and non-profit sectors. She is a full member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and a Registered Professional Planner in the Province of Ontario.


Robert BrownRobert Brown

Principal, Chesterman Properties

Robert created Chesterman Properties in 1997, with the goal of undertaking projects that are thoughtful, functional, beautiful and inspiring. He brings over thirty years of real estate experience to Chesterman and has created a number of pioneering projects in Vancouver which have been recognized by a Mayor's Environmental Achievement Award and an Ethics in Action Award. In addition to undertaking market-based projects, Chesterman supports non-profit organisations seeking to leverage real estate to further their mission and community benefit. Robert has co-founded and volunteered with many non-profits and is currently the Chair of Compassionate Eye Foundation, a non-profit which uses revenue from the sale of created stock photography to fund education, health, and economic development work in developing nations.


Dr. Ron BurnettDr. Ron Burnett

President & Vice Chancellor, Emily Carr University of Art and Design

Dr. Burnett has been President and Vice-Chancellor of Emily Carr University of Art and Design since 1996. In 2010, Dr. Burnett was awarded the Chevalier de Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government and received the International Digital Media and Arts Association Outstanding Leadership Award. He received his BA, MA and PhD from McGill University in the areas of media arts, communications and cultural studies.

In a career spanning forty years, Dr. Burnett has published three books, over 150 articles, book chapters and reviews as well as two monographs. In 2012, he received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Media in honour of his significant contributions and achievements and in 2002, he received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for service to Canada and Canadians. He was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 2003 and was voted Educator of the Year by the Canadian New Media Association in 2005.


Hugh Cocklin

Proscenium Architecture and Chair Spaces Sub-Committee of City of Vancouver Arts & Cultural Policy Council


Bob D'EithBob D’Eith

Executive Director, Music BC and member City of Vancouver Cultural Facilities Team

Bob has been involved in the music industry for twenty-two years in various capacities: entertainment lawyer (D’Eith & Company), two time Juno Award nominated recording artist (Rymes with Orange and Mythos), studio owner, label and music publisher (Adagio Music Inc.).

For the past eleven years, Bob has been the executive director of the Music BC Industry Association, a non-profit society dedicated to the development of music and the music industry in BC. Music BC administers the award winning Peak Performance Project and is also the FACTOR-affiliated office for BC.


Jay DodgeJay Dodge

Artistic Producer, Boca del Lupo and Co-Founder of Progress Lab 1422

The Artistic Producer of Boca del Lupo since 2001, Jay Dodge was also part of the founding collective in 1996. Acting as a writer, performer, producer and designer within the company, his hallmark is one of invention and daring. In the five years of his tenure as Artistic Producer, Boca del Lupo won the peer-assessed Alcan Performing Arts Award, and has won several Jesse Richardson Theatre Awards including seven nominations for the Criticís Choice Award for Innovation. Jay is also a co-founder of both Source Studio and PL1422 and comes with a background in design and construction.


Derek GentDerek Gent

Executive Director, Vancity Community Foundation

Derek currently leads Vancity Community Foundation (VCF), an arms-length charity associated with the members of Vancity Credit Union in BC. Through direct program delivery, collaborative funding initiatives, active impact investing and more than 120 donor-advised funds, the Foundation has been a leader in supporting innovative community development for almost 25 years. Using a uniquely positioned set of tools including non-profit and charitable structures, together with the leveraged resources from a $17 billion financial cooperative with almost 500,000 members, VCF is interested in helping create more community ownership and impact with local real estate assets. 

Derek joined the Foundation in 2008, after 7 years with Vancity’s venture capital arm and previously serving in a variety of roles at Coast Capital Savings. He has an MBA from Queen's, and has worked in management consulting, also gaining international experience in Bangladesh, Brazil, and northern Italy. Derek also serves on several other nonprofit boards, including Cooperators Foundation, the Social Investment Organization,  Imagine Canada, and as City Co-chair for Aga Khan Foundation Canada.


Jacqueline GijssenJacqueline Gijssen

Senior Cultural Planner, Cultural Services, City of Vancouver

As Vancouver’s Senior Cultural Planner for cultural spaces/facilities, Jacquie works with the arts and culture community, planners, developers, architects and funding agencies focused on the sustainable creation and operation of cultural spaces. Jacquie is a founding member of Vancouver's Social Purpose Real Estate Collaborative and has participated in several of its activities including co-leading the landmark research program "RENT-LEASE-OWN: Understanding Real Estate Challenges in the Not-For-Profit/Social Purpose/Cultural Sectors."

In 2007 to 2008, Jacquie lead the creation of a fifteen-year master plan for Vancouver’s cultural infrastructure with strategies for improving the climate for cultural expression within the city. Before joining the City in 2006, Jacquie enjoyed a 25-year career working with museums and the visual arts in British Columbia and California serving in multiple leadership roles. Jacquie has been recognized individually and as part of collaborative teams with awards from the BC and Canadian Museums Associations, the Planning Institute of British Columbia, and the US State Department International Visitors Program.


Bruce GrenvilleBruce Grenville

Senior Curator, Vancouver Art Gallery

Bruce Grenville is the Senior Curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery (1997 - present). He has been Curator at the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1989-95) and Senior Curator of the Edmonton Art Gallery (1995-97).

He has organized many thematic group exhibitions including Visions of British Columbia: A Landscape Manual, an award-winning exhibition and publication that looked at the British Columbia landscape through the eyes of its finest visual and literary artists; KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video Games + Art, a timely and important survey of modern and contemporary visual culture from around the world; Massive Change: The Future of Global Design, a survey of contemporary design, conceived and presented in collaboration with Bruce Mau Design and the Institute Without Boundaries; The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture, a thematic survey of the image of the human machine in art and popular culture from the early 19th century to the present; Home and Away: Crossing Cultures on the Pacific Rim, a look at the work of six artists from Vancouver, Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Seoul and Los Angeles, who share a history of emigration and diaspora on the Pacific Rim; and The Post-Colonial Landscape Project, a six-year series of exhibitions and a book that examined the land and its representation within the colonial and post-colonial state.


Doug HammingDoug Hamming

Senior Principal Architect, STANTEC

After an educational swing through SFU and Dalhousie in Business and Architecture, and through 23 years of practice he has put his finger prints on public buildings, educational facilities, attractions, and high-density residential projects. Most recently, Doug was the principal architect of the renewal of BC Place Stadium and the Robert Lee YMCA and Patina projects. He is a senior principal with Stantec Architecture Ltd.
As a long-term resident of Vancouver's West End he is an advocate for a socialogially sustainable development model in which our urban communities actively support every stage of life for our residents, from 5 to 95 years of age.


Emma HendrixEmma Hendrix

General Manager, VIVO Media Arts Centre

Emma is a sound designer and media artist. His work is focused on creating environments through sound, and investigating the inherent sonic qualities of purposeful and incidental sound. He has performed internationally as one-half of the duo Coin Gutter, was nominated for a Jessie Award for Outstanding Sound Design, a Japan New Media Festival Award, and was a finalist for the 2008 Canary Island Media Arts Festival. His design can be heard in film, theatre, video, dance, new media, and his own installation work. He was VIVO's Technical Coordinator from 2005-2008, and has also worked with the New Forms Festival, Media Arts Committee, and Scotiabank Dance Centre.


Jane HeymanJane Heyman

Director and Co-Founder / Past President of PAL

Jane has worked in professional theatre across Canada and England primarily as a director, dramaturge, and acting teacher for more than 40 years. She is a co-founder (with Joy Coghill) and past President of Vancouver’s Performing Arts Lodge (PAL).  From 1985 to 2005 she taught acting, and was Associate Director of Studio 58, Langara College’s professional theatre training program. She represented BC on the CAEA National Council from 1991 to 2000, and was recently re-elected. She also sits on the boards of the Koerner Foundation, PAL Canada, PAL Vancouver, the Elbow, and PAL Studio Theatres. Jane is very proud to have helped found Westcoast Actors and the Women in VIEW Festival. She is honoured to have received the 2008 YWCA Woman of Distinction for Arts and Culture; the 2007 Alliance for Arts & Culture Arts Board Member of the Year; and the 2004 GVPTA Career Achievement Jessie Richardson Award; as well as the 1991 Jessie Richardson Best Director Award for The Road to Mecca (Arts Club Theatre). Her most recent production was Chekhov’s Three Sisters, produced by The Only Child Collective at The Cultch.


Terry HunterTerry Hunter

Executive Director, Vancouver Moving Theatre and Artistic Producer, Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival

A longtime resident of the Downtown Eastside, Mr. Hunter is co-founder/Executive Director of Vancouver Moving Theatre (1983), an award-winning Downtown Eastside -based interdisciplinary theatre company recognized nationally for its innovative and groundbreaking theatrical productions, and its community engaged festivals and productions tailored with and for the Downtown Eastside.

Mr. Hunter is also the co-founder/Artistic Producer of Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival (2004 – present) produced by Vancouver Moving Theatre in association with the Carnegie Community Centre and over 40 community partners. Last year’s festival featured over 1,000 artists at 118 events in 45 locations throughout the Downtown Eastside.


Eri IshiEri Ishi

Visual Artist and Coordinator, Portside Studios /901 Main Co-op

Eri is a Vancouver artist working mostly in oil painting. A winner of several art awards, she has exhibited her work across Canada and internationally, and her work can be seen in numerous public and private collections. Eri has explored several different subjects over her career to date; from the figure in movement, to her most recent series which explores mixing fiction and non-fiction in painting. Her work has  been said to conjure an anxious vulnerability while evoking optimism. She is represented by Ian Tan Gallery in Vancouver.


Howard JangHoward Jang

Executive Director, Arts Club Theatre

Howard Jang has been with Arts Club Theatre Company since 2000, leading the Arts Club through four multi-year Strategic Plans. Trained first as a musician, Howard has held senior leadership positions for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Ballet British Columbia, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestra of St. Luke's (NYC). Howard consults with many organizations across Canada and the US and has sat on many boards. Currently, he is the immediate past Chair of Tourism Vancouver, a member of the TELUS Vancouver Community Board, and in April 2012, Howard was appointed to the Board of the Canada Council for the Arts.


Jennifer JohnstoneJennifer Johnstone

President and CEO, Central City Foundation

Jennifer Johnstone is President and CEO of Central City Foundation, an organization that has been bringing neighbours together to build hope in the inner city since 1907. By building housing and other capital projects, investing in social enterprises that create jobs and opportunities, as well as funding hundreds of non-profit organizations, Central City Foundation has provided help and hope to the most vulnerable people in our inner city community for 106 years. Jennifer's background is in non-profit management and community resource development, and she has held key leadership positions with organizations including Vancity Community Foundation, Battered Women's Support Services, Vancouver Status of Women, and Ballet British Columbia. Jennifer is an instructor in the Fundraising Certificate Program at BCIT and serves on the governing Boards of Yaletown House Foundation, Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, Battered Women's Support Services, and the Hastings Crossing BIA.


Caitlin JonesCaitlin Jones

Executive Director, Western Front

Caitlin is the Executive Director of the Western Front Society in Vancouver, BC. Prior to this appointment she had a combined curatorial and conservation position at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and was the Director of Programming at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York. As a curator and researcher, Jones has also been responsible for developing important tools and policy for the preservation and documentation of electronic and ephemeral artworks. She was a staff writer for Rhizome, and her other writings on contemporary art and new media have appeared in a wide range of periodicals and other international publications including Mousse Magazine, Documents in Contemporary Art and The Believer.


Tim JonesTim Jones

President and CEO, Artscape

Tim is a champion for the role that the arts play in transforming cities and communities. Under his direction as President and CEO since 1998, Artscape has grown from a Toronto-based affordable studio provider to an internationally recognized leader in creative placemaking. In Toronto, Tim has built an impressive portfolio of multi-tenanted arts centres that serve the needs of over 900 artists while also advancing a host of public policy goals, private development interests, community and neighbourhood aspirations, and philanthropic missions. In Canada and abroad, Tim acts as a consultant and advisor on projects, policy, university curricula and initiatives, and speaks at more than 20 conferences, lectures and events each year. In all of this work he seeks to empower artists as powerful agents of change who play a central role in shaping cities and societies of the future.


Paddy McLeodPaddy McLeod

Blackbird Theatre, and member Spaces Sub-Committee of City of Vancouver Arts & Cultural Policy Council

Paddy is the co-founder, along with John Wright, of Blackbird Theatre Company.  She has come to Blackbird with more than twenty five years of experience in Arts Administration, mostly in the music sector, where she managed the Vancouver Cantata Singers and met John Wright, who was a bass member of the choir for many seasons.  Together they produced  a widely telecast documentary entitled Children of Bachand, and a Juno-nominated CD, A Venetian Vespers of 1640.

Well-known as an arts activist in Vancouver, she has been president of  several of the city’s prominent cultural organizations including the Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture and the Vancouver Music Alliance. At present she serves as a board director of Festival Vancouver where she also chairs the Program Advisory Committee, and as Vice-Chair of the Vancouver Concert Hall and Theatre Society (formerly the Coal Harbour Arts Complex Committee). Born in South Africa, Paddy’s early experience was in the fields of journalism and broadcasting, and, prior to entering into arts administration in Canada, she received an MA in English Literature from Simon Fraser University. Her life-long passion for the arts continues to inspire her work in the cultural community.


Marita MichaelisMarita Michaelis

Director, SAFE Amplification Site Society

Marita is a musician, organizer, and believer in all things DIY. She started going to see live music at a young age and soon began organizing shows and playing music herself. Marita is now on the board of directors for the Safe Amplification Site Society. SASS, or "Safe Amp", is a non-profit dedicated to establishing an all ages music venue in Vancouver that meets the following criteria: legal, sustainable, and accessible to all. They are working hard to reach their goal and would like to share with you their story so far and why this project is so important.


Kim NguyenKim Nguyen

Director/Curator, Artspeak

Kim Nguyen is a Vancouver-based curator and writer. Since 2011 she has been the director/curator of Artspeak, an artist-run centre established in 1986 whose mandate is to investigate the intersection of visual art and language. Formerly a director and curator at Access Gallery, Nguyen has guest-curated for the Belkin Satellite, PLATFORM, Gallery Atsui, and for the Or Gallery, where she was Canada Council Curator-in-Residence from 2009-2010. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the School of Art at the University of Manitoba, and a Master of Arts in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia.


Margaret ReynoldsMargaret Reynolds

Executive Director, Association of Book Publishers and member City of Vancouver Cultural Facilities Team







Randy PecarskiRandy Pecarski

Senior Planner City-Wide & Regional Planning, Policy & Projects, City of Vancouver

Mr. Pecarski is an urban planner with 30 years of public and private sector experience.  Currently, he is a Senior Planner in the City-wide and Regional Planning Division of Vancouver's Planning and Development Services Department. In his day-to-day work, Randy has three key areas of responsibility: development finance and financing growth; rapid transit planning; and long range-forecasting and policy research.

Randy has been with Vancouver for almost 25 years. During his career he has had the opportunity to develop city-wide policy and community plans, process major rezoning applications, and represent Vancouver in regional planning initiatives. He has also worked closely with many communities and cross-departmental teams to create public benefit strategies that aim for both the preservation of, and creation of, a wide array of public facilities and services.

Prior to joining the City his work in the private sector focused on communities throughout BC and Yukon where he developed land use, economic development, and capital improvement plans.


Pru RobeyPru Robey

Director, Creative Placemaking Lab, Artscape

Pru joined Artscape in 2007 and takes the lead in new project research and development, and major research initiatives. She led the research, partnership development, and sector engagement process to build the vision and case for Daniels Spectrum, a cultural hub in Toronto's Regent Park neighbourhood, and is now leading Artscape's efforts to develop a major new facility to support creative sector entrepreneurship while also exploring the development community cultural resources in Toronto's priority neighbourhoods. Pru has advised communities across Canada on cultural facility development and strategies to support creative placemaking, and directs a suite of programs and services at Artscape designed to build the capacity of communities to undertake creative placemaking projects.


Gordon RossGordon Ross

Vice President, OpenRoad

Gordon is Vice President of OpenRoad, one of Vancouver's oldest and most respected web development firms. A twenty-year veteran of the digital industry, Gordon works to make our experience of technology better. He provides his clients with strategic insights gained through design research. Gordon has led digital projects locally at the BC Government, BC Hydro, the City of Vancouver, ICBC, Mountain Equipment Co-op; and across North America with the District of Columbia Courts, Hydro Ottawa, IDRC, and the World Bank. Gordon is an SFU Communications graduate and speaks about technology and design at conferences like Digital Strategy Vancouver, Enterprise 2.0, OpenGovWest, South by Southwest, and World IA Day. He hasn't written a book. Yet.


Derek SimonsDerek Simons

Director of Development, Artspace Action Society

Derek is a writer and cultural animator. Derek trained as a visual artist and has been active in Vancouver’s cultural community for thirty years. He has had several solo exhibitions and has directed multi-disciplinary presentation series such as The Body Project and The Spectacular State: Fascism and the Modern Imagination. Derek has led several non-profit societies and was the inaugural coordinator of the Roundhouse. He has a PhD in urban and cultural development. His most recent essay, on Vancouver’s Public Library, appears in Group Search (2012). Derek is currently Director of Development and Research for Art Space Action, a non-profit dedicated to creating affordable spaces for creative work, and is also on temporary assignment as a cultural planner with the City of Vancouver.


Cathryn VandenbrinkCathryn Vandenbrink

Vice President Properties, Artspace Seattle

Cathryn grew up in Yakima, Washington, and graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, California. For two decades she worked as a jewelry artist in Seattle, Washington. She is a nationally acclaimed artist with work in various collections, including those of the Tacoma Art Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, and the Museum of American Design in New York.

In 1996 she began working as an urban planner and advocate for artists and arts organizations. She was a founding member of the Pioneer Square Community Development Organization, in which capacity she brought Artspace to Seattle to consult on a live/work project in historic Pioneer Square. This first contact led to the Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts project.

After five years as an independent consultant focusing on the space needs of Seattle artists, Vandenbrink joined the Artspace staff in 2004 as director of the company's West Coast office, its first satellite office. In this capacity she has developed five projects: Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts; Artspace Hiawatha Lofts and Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts in Seattle; Artspace Everett Lofts in Everett, Washington; and The Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, California. She is currently working on projects in Honolulu and El Paso.