MEET THE EAAC! APA’s Showcasing Equity and Accessibility Statement
As a response to the lack of diversity in the artists selected for past Contact East showcases, APA reached out to our networks to assemble a committee of individuals with ties to Black, Indigenous, racialized, disability and Mad arts, and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities in Atlantic Canada.
The paid work of the Equity Action Advisory Committee (EAAC) has included giving APA resources and guidance on how to welcome more artists and arts leaders from these identified communities. They have taught APA much in this process and their continued input, guidance and advice is helping APA create accessible and equitable pathways to connect artists with presenters and their communities.
Additionally, the EAAC has been supporting and advising APA on a new, fairer process to select an equitable and diverse artist selection committee (formerly jury) that chooses which artists showcase at Contact East 2021. As a result, in 2021, APA put out a call for applications to assemble the artist selection committee, as opposed to hand-picking individuals from APA’s membership, as was done in past years. And for the first time, in 2021, the work of the selection committee was monetarily compensated.
This is our commitment:
Showcasing Equity and Accessibility Statement
APA acknowledges that past selection processes were not fair, accessible or equitable to all and that this is the first step towards more equitable representation on stages across Atlantic Canada.
APA acknowledges the value that lived and community-based experiences and practices have in creating fair artist selection processes.
The APA, (board and staff) will select a Contact East showcase artist selection committee made up of presenters, industry professionals, artists and community members who expressed interest in the call for applications. This committee will choose the artists for the showcases at the annual Contact East event.
The artist selection committee will make their showcase choices based on artistic merit and art form diversity, regional representation, tourability, as well as a number of equity and lived experience lenses. The selection committee themselves will have diverse gender representation and representation from communities such as racialized people, Indigenous people and people from the 2SLGBTQIA+, disability and Mad arts community.
Showcasing artists chosen by the selection committee will have equitable gender representation and representation from communities such as racialized people, Indigenous people and people from the 2SLGBTQIA+, disability and Mad arts community.
APA is committed to implementing and upholding equitable and accessible practices in choosing the selection committee members and showcasing artists and will provide any needed support to ensure fair and equitable representation.
Meet the EAAC!
We are very proud of the work the EAAC has helped the APA to accomplish thus far. This is who they are:
April Hubbard began her career as an actor before developing her skills as a director, producer, board member, administrator, and accessibility advisor after entering the world of disability and finding there was no longer a space for her on stage. As the Chair of the Halifax Fringe Festival, she provides a platform for others excluded from mainstream performance.
In 2019, April became a professional trapeze artist and acrobat when she began performing with LEGacy Circus. She cofounded disabilityX Halifax, an accessible storytelling event created and led by people with disabilities, and she is currently working with Drifting Amber Collective to remove barriers to access in the arts and to support people with unseen bodies & unheard voices to claim creative control. April recently began drafting an accessibility report
for Eastern Front Theatre exploring the barriers to inclusion in the performing arts in Nova Scotia and offering recommendations on how to meet the needs of all community members.
Her experience as a disabled woman allows her to guide those working to create inclusive performances and spaces. She is an outspoken advocate whose focus is to empower people with disabilities to discover their voice and to be leaders in designing the society in which they wish to live. April proudly shows her body without hiding its differences, which serves to both challenge assumptions and to normalize the presence of people with disabilities in our everyday world.
(Photo credit: Emily Invidia)
Kelly LiEAAC Member
Kelly is an arts administrator and filmmaker based in Kjipuktuk (known colonially as Halifax, Nova Scotia). She is the Managing Producer at the Prismatic Arts Festival, an annual, multidisciplinary arts festival that solely showcases the work of Indigenous artists and artists of colour. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cinema and Media Studies from Dalhousie University.
Raeesa LalaniVice President
Raeesa Lalani (she/her) is an arts professional flourishing as the Artistic Director of the Prismatic Arts Festival. After an extensive volleyball career, the arts industry called her back as a professional, as Raeesa has long been active as an actress, singer and has been known to tickle the ivories too.
Some of her performance credits include: Tammy Fae - Cinderelly (Shakespeare by the Sea, Theatre), Titania/Hippolyta - A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare by the Sea, Theatre), Gillian - Dinoasipen (BBC Worldwide, TV), Host - Ocean Playground, Season 1 & 2 (Eastlink, TV).
Passionate about all things fine art and communications, she earned an Arts degree from Dalhousie University and a graduate Journalism degree from the University of Kings College.
Raeesa feels immensely fulfilled being part of an organization that has enabled her to grow personally in the arts but also be a part of a greater cause that continually strives to help the growth of Indigenous and culturally diverse artists. She believes in the importance of supporting the arts sector, and cares about making a difference and enriching the lives or her colleagues, ensuring that ALL voices are heard!
She is active as a board of director for multiple non profit organizations, with the intention of giving back her time to support members of the community. Raeesa is determined, focused, and passionate in all facets of her life, which has propelled her to be the successful young professional she has become.
(Photo credit: James MacLean)
Santiago GuzmánEAAC Member
Santiago (he/they) is an award-winning playwright, dramaturge, performer, & director originally from Metepec, Mexico, now based in St. John’s, NL. They are the Artistic Director of TODOS Productions & the Artistic Associate for Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre.
Santiago’s work puts local, under-represented narratives and characters on the frontlines, whilst inviting audiences to appreciate the vibrancy of Newfoundland and Labrador from a diverse perspective.
His play ALTAR was produced by the Resource Centre for the Arts Theatre Company in 2021 and toured across high schools in NL as a digital offering, as well as national presentations at Prismatic Arts Festival, (NS) and Aluna Theatre’s RUTAS Festival (ON). ALTAR will receive a second production by Theatre New Brunswick in 2023 and tour their province alongside the world premiere of his new TYA play, S.T.O.P.
Santiago’s play Urn received the Senior Dramatic Script Award of the NL 2022 Arts and Letters Awards & was shortlisted for the NLCU Fresh Fish Award 2022. Most recently, Santiago has been awarded the inaugural John Palmer Award 2022 through the PGC for being a change-maker in the theatre industry with their advocacy in the arts regarding equity, diversity, and anti-racism.
Santiago's work is very gay, very brown, and very real.
Dena Williams is aspiring Artist & Events Manager, born & raised in Halifax. Outside of her work in the music industry, Dena is currently pursuing a career in Social Work at Dalhousie University. With her developing work in social justice, Dena has made it her mission to create opportunities for the development and advancement for creatives in the BIPOC community. As an advocate for arts & culture, Dena’s been working with Youth Art Connection and has hit the ground running by lending a hand in promoting & organizing many events, including Salt Yard Sessions, Taco & Tunes @ The Local, In the Dead of Winter Festival and Emerge Festival. Currently managing two Artists, Lyris Daye & Eriana Willis, focusing on creative development and the completion of their debut releases. Dena is currently developing her community passion project which is intended to bring historically neglected communities together through art and creating a safe space for art to be celebrated. Through this project, Dena aims to bring light and love to historically neglected communities. With her company, Vitamin Dee Entertainment, Dena hopes to promote positivity, inclusivity, and diversity through various forms of art while also creating opportunities for local artists of the BIPOC community.
Jessica BrownEAAC Member
Jessica Brown (she/her) is an Inuk arts worker and filmmaker based in St. John’s, NL. She has been exploring documentary filmmaking with a passion for stories that focus on identity, language, belonging and roots. Her film "Framed Spirit Song" (2022) premiered at the St. John's International Women's Film Festival. She was selected for Doc Atlantic Breakthrough Program (2022), led by Lunenberg Doc Fest, to pitch her new documentary at the Montreal International Documentary Festival. Jessica works at First Light on the development of a new Arts Collective. She sits on the Board of Directors for Riddle Fence: A Journal of Arts & Culture and has recently joined The Equity Action Advisory Committee for the Atlantic Presenters Association. She enjoys learning about her culture and spending time with her children.
Liliona A. Quarmyne
Liliona A. QuarmyneEAAC Member
Based in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), on the powerful, unceded and unsurrendered ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq people, Liliona is a dancer, choreographer, actor, singer, and community facilitator. From Ghana and the Philippines, she has an eclectic background that has taken her through many performance styles on four different continents. Liliona performs across the country and internationally, creates original works as an independent artist, facilitates community programming, and is the Artistic Director of Kinetic. The scope of Liliona’s artistic work is broad, but is particularly focused on the relationship between art and social justice, on the body’s ability to carry ancestral memory, and on the role the performing arts can play in creating change. Liliona loves to work in collaboration and community, and is mom to two wonderful kids.