The Future of Cultural Arts


July 8, 2020

cultural arts

The pandemic has impacted every aspect of the world as we knew it, and the cultural industry was no exception. Arts, culture and heritage spaces and organizations acted quickly to adapt and engage their audiences with digital programming. In this conversation from July 7, 2020, three Jewish arts, culture and heritage organizations shared how they re-imagined their programming for a pandemic, and how they see the future of culture as we move forward in the “new normal.”

The discussion included: Karen Tisch (Executive Director of the Koffler Centre of the Arts), Dara Solomon (Executive Director of the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre and Ontario Jewish Archives) and Debbie Werner (Executive Director of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival). It was moderated by Dr. Sara Diamond (President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University). Watch it now on the Virtual J!

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About the Speakers:

Dara Solomon is the Executive Director, Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, and the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. At the OJA and Neuberger, Dara has developed new partnerships and outreach initiatives to engage a broad public in the community’s Jewish heritage. Prior to joining the OJA, Solomon was the Curator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) in San Francisco, where she was responsible for curating the museum’s inaugural exhibition seasons. Solomon holds a M.A. in Arts Administration from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a B.A. in Religion and Art History from University of Toronto.

Debbie Werner is the Executive Director, Toronto Jewish Film Foundation. Debbie joined the TJFF team in January of 2009 bringing 16 years of experience in marketing and event production. In 2010 she assumed the position of Director of Operations and was promoted to Managing Director in September of 2011. In January of 2014, the TJFF Board of Directors appointed Debbie to the position of Executive Director. Under her administrative leadership, TJFF has enjoyed increased box office returns and expanded its programming and services offered. She been recognized for her achievements at TJFF by the Jewish Film Presenters Network of North America, where she has been a presenter. She has also been an invited member on multiple councils in recognition of her leadership role in both the Jewish and festival/arts communities. Prior to her time at TJFF, Debbie was Marketing Director for Bayview Village Shopping Centre and Orlando Corporation from 1992 – 2002. She worked as an independent copy writer/ copy editor from 2011 – 2014. Debbie has also enjoyed her volunteer work with multiple charitable organizations such as: Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ontario, Habitat for Humanities, Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Centre, Jackman Institute of Child Study, Cabbagetown Preservation Society. Debbie is a graduate of the University of Toronto.

Karen Tisch is the Executive Director, Koffler Centre of the Arts. Karen is a Toronto-based arts manager and equity advisor with thirty years of experience in the Canadian arts sector. She currently serves as Executive Director of the Koffler Centre of the Arts and as a Board member of Red Sky Performance and the Ashkenaz Foundation. Karen’s past roles include Managing Director of the Hot Docs Festival, Programming Director of the Images Festival, Executive Director of the Ashkenaz Foundation, and Program Officer and Policy Advisor for the Toronto Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. She is a Past President of the Toronto Arts Council, and previously served as President of A Space Gallery and Chair of the Toronto Book Awards. Karen is an alumna of OCAD and Canada’s National Ballet School.

Dr. Sara Diamond holds the title of President Emerita at OCAD University, recently completing a transformative 15-year tenure as its President and Vice-Chancellor. She holds a PhD in Computing, IT and Engineering, and a Masters in Performative New Media Arts. She founded and then led the Banff New Media Institute from 1995 – 2005. Beginning in 2005, Diamond led OCAD University to retain its traditional strengths in art and design, while transforming the university to become a leader in digital media, inclusive design, design research and curriculum. She collaborated with Indigenous colleagues to develop the Indigenous Visual Culture Program. In 2018 she received the Inspiring 50 Award for Women from the Government of Netherlands and Senate of Canada. She is a member of the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Academy of Art; has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for Contributions to Canada; and was named one of Toronto Life‘s 50 most influential people. She was honoured as Digital Media Pioneer by the GRAND National Centre of Excellence in 2015; and in 2019 Digital Media Pioneer by DigiFest. Diamond has led or co-led large-scale Canadian and international research networks in data visualization, wearable technologies, mobile technology and content and collaborative systems such as the Mobile Digital Commons Network (MDCN), Am-I-Able, Centre for Information Visualization and Design, and iCity (Visualization theme. Leading up to this research, Diamond was an internationally recognized artist in experimental media.

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