Staff

Lila Karim | Executive Director

Lila Karim has over 15 years experience in arts programming, administration and special events management in the cultural sector. Lila is currently the Executive Director of North York Arts. She has previously worked for several non-profit organizations including the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, ReelWorld Film Festival + Foundation and Harold Greenberg Fund.

Lila is active within the arts community as a board member with Work in Culture and sits on several committees including Friends of the Arts, Creative Spaces Outside the Downtown Core, and Community Arts Action Advisory. Lila has also produced award-winning work as a digital photographer and filmmaker.

Contact Lila at lila@northyorkarts.org.

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Melissa Foster | Program & Outreach Manager

Melissa holds a Community Arts Practice Certificate and BA (hons) in Theatre Studies from York University, and holds a post-degree diploma in Arts Management from Western University. Melissa has collaborated on numerous community arts projects related to social justice and community relations and helped develop and facilitate arts programs both abroad and within Toronto. Her primary focus is on the development and implementation of public art and community driven, arts-based programming. Melissa has over 8 years working in the public sector, primarily as a Youth Worker for various shelters and supportive housing programs in Toronto. It is here that she began to use her artistic background as a way to engage communities. It is through this experience that she now finds herself with North York Arts. She is excited to be working on initiatives that provide opportunities for artistic participation within the wider community and contribute to Toronto’s vibrant and diverse art scene.

Contact Melissa at melissa@northyorkarts.org.

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Cecilia Garcia | Program & Volunteer Coordinator

Cecília holds a BFA in film studies from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil and has built a diverse portfolio working in the Brazilian film industry. She previously worked on a variety of projects in the art department of films and commercial productions and ultimately started managing her own set decorating and production service company. After arriving in Canada, Cecília was fascinated by the Canadian cultural landscape; her experience as a volunteer in a community theatre drew her to pursue a career in arts management.

Currently, Cecília has a diploma in arts management from Western University and completed an internship with North York Arts. Here she further developed her skills and passion in arts programming and volunteer management. Now she is thrilled to be back and to help to build communities through the arts.

Contact Cecilia at cecilia@northyorkarts.org

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Rachel Birnberg | Development & Communications Coordinator

Rachel has always had a passion for art and all things creative. As a graduate of the Media, Information and Technoculture (MIT) program at Western University, she was able to foster these passions though various creative courses, a semester abroad at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, as well as a four-month internship at The Grand Theatre in London, Ontario.

Now, Rachel holds a post-graduate diploma in arts management from Western Continuing Studies. Through this program (and an internship at NYA), she learned to effectively apply professional management skills to the arts (taking specific interest in marketing and communications), and she has become interested in the importance of art and creative expression as a catalyst for community development.

Contact Rachel at rachel@northyorarts.org

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Anne-Marie Smith | Bookkeeper

Anne-Marie always had a fanatical obsession with music. She would sneak out of the house at an early age to see live bands in downtown Toronto and credits this as her first educational experience in the music industry. She later became interested in pursuing engineering and production work and attended Harris Institute for the Arts majoring in production/engineering working freelance both in live sound and recording studios. She then interned at I.R.S. Records working with such artists as Fine Young Cannibals, Candy, Stuart Copeland, and the Infidels.

In 1992, Anne-Marie was hired by Warner/Chappell Music Publishing Canada as the A&R/Promotions Coordinator. She was promoted to the position of creative manager two years later and signed such songwriters as Glenn Lewis, Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black & Saukrates to the company.

As the landscape of the music industry changed, Anne-Marie decided to follow her true passion of independent business ownership and joined Capitol Hill Music as president of the company whose artist roster included Andreena Mill and Big Black Lincoln. A worldwide distribution deal soon followed with Sony Music but unfortunately due to the merger of Sony and BMG, the label was subsequently released from the contract.

Anne-Marie joined Harris Institute’s esteemed faculty in 2004 and created a new curriculum for the ‘Confidential Records: Developing an Independent Record Label and Publishing Company’ course. She presently runs both the Confidential Records and the Contracts & Negotiations program at the facility. She also currently teaches the Music Publishing 101 course for Seneca College’s Independent Professional Songwriter Program and Industry Overview Course for the Independent Music Producer Program.

Anne-Marie is currently the associate producer at Clear Lake Historical Productions where she supervises production budgets, grant writing and synchronization clearances. Clear Lake released the documentary entitled ‘Jews And Baseball: An American Love Story’, which was narrated by Dustin Hoffman and included interviews by Ron Howard, Sandy Koufax and Larry King. The company’s latest project is about the legendary songwriter Doc Pomus who penned such hits as ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’, ‘Viva Los Vegas’, ‘This Magic Moment’ and ‘Little Sister’.

This experience in the film industry provided Anne-Marie with the opportunity to resurrect her own company, Lonestar Music Services which offers support in synchronization clearances, music supervision, tax credit administration and bookkeeping services. Current clients include North by Northeast, artists USS and Repartee, record label MDM Recordings and charitable organizations North York Arts, Nia Centre For The Arts, and Sinfonia.

Anne-Marie has held positions both on the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) Board of Directors and the Canadian Independent Recording and Production Association Board (CIRPA).

Dan Watson | Cultura and Sunday Serenades Producer

Dan Watson is an award-winning Theatre Artist who has created and performed theatre across Canada, Scotland, France, the United States and Japan.  He is Artistic Producer of Edge of the Woods Theatre in his home town of Huntsville where he produces Nuit Blanche North. Through this event, he has collaborated with hundreds of artists including Order of Canada Recipients R Murray Schafer and Charles Pachter. More recently with the company, Dan created and performed in Ralph + Lina (4 Dora award nominations including Outstanding Production, Play, Ensemble and Individual Performance). This production continues to tour across Ontario and the country.

Dan is a co-founder of the international theatre company Ahuri Theatre with whom he conceived and directed A Fool’s Life (6 Dora Nominations, Winner Outstanding Sound Design) and created Yabu No Naka:distruthted at the prestigious Setagaya Public Theatre in Tokyo. Most recently, the company developed and presented This is the Point: an original play about love, sex and disability through a 3 year residency at The Theatre Centre in Toronto.

Dan also works in community engaged art making projects both in Toronto and Muskoka. He has collaborated on a number of projects with Jumblies Theatre, MABELLEarts, and ARTS4ALL Creative Society. In February 2017, he partnered with the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre to present What Dream it Was: an interactive and immersive installation inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream that engages people with profound complex disabilities through art making and performance.

Dan is a graduate of Humber College in Toronto and École Jacques Lecoq in Paris.

Shalyse Mackay | Marketing Volunteer

Shalyse is currently a student at Humber College in the Bachelor of Creative Advertising degree program. Through her program she has learned to refine the art of storytelling through a multitude of methods including graphic design, and copywriting. She has worked on a variety of projects through her position as an event graphic designer at Humber College related to fundraisers, and community events.

Through her skill in the arts she plans to devote herself to creating messages and telling stories that make a positive social contribution. She is excited to volunteer with North York Arts and contribute to projects that enhance communities through the experience of art.