Ely Lyonblum | Chair
Active as an arts and culture educator, Ely has directed documentary films and produced recordings for the British Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the MIT Media Lab, and CBC Radio 1. His kaleidoscopic passion for the arts has led to projects on American Sign Language performance art, West African storytelling through song, and spoken word poetry in maritime Canada. Ely trained as a documentary filmmaker at the Centre for Visual Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he co-founded ART/E/FACT, a publication and event series of art and anthropology. He recently completed a PhD in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he co-convened the conference and artist residency Sound Studies: Art, Experience, Politics. Ely regularly teaches and publishes internationally, while focusing on local initiatives in newcomer arts as the Chair of the Board of Directors at Airsa Art & Thought Association.
An award-winning director, writer, dramaturg, choreographer and teacher, whose professional theatre career spans thirty years and two continents. In his native Iran, Soheil completed studies in Theatre Performance at the University of Tehran and began a promising career as an actor and director. Arriving in Canada with his family in 1984, Soheil completed a second Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies at York University and then went on to establish Modern Times Stage Company, one of the most innovating theatre companies in Canada. In 1995 Soheil received a New Pioneers Award by Skills for Change for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts by a recent immigrant to Canada. Soheil’s own work at Modern Times has been recognized with five Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a Chalmers Fellowship in 2002, a senior artist creation grant from the Canada Council, as well as a number of international prizes and master class requests. In 2007 and 2010 he was short-listed for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre Celebrating Directors, the highest honour in Canadian theatre. Most recently, Soheil has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution as a theatre artist to Canadian society.
A force of nature: a determined and inspired individual committed to improving lives through the arts. A trained human rights lawyer hailing from Colombia, she works as a legal community worker and is a writer of fiction and journalistic non-fiction; she is also the PEN Canada Writer in Residence at George Brown College and a frequent organizer of art exhibits in the Latin American community in Toronto. In 2012, she co-founded .