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Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA)

Programs + Initiatives

Logo for REFLECT: Radical Empathy For Leaders: Equity, Connection, and Time

REFLECT: Radical Empathy For Leaders: 
Equity, Connection, and Time

The REFLECT pilot program (Radical Empathy for Leaders: Equity, Connection, and Time) offers individuals who are community-focused cultural leaders a funded opportunity for a cohort-based learning experience to support, develop and enhance their leadership in the cultural sector. 

REFLECT is a joint initiative between The Cultch and the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA), in collaboration with the City of Vancouver Arts Culture and Tourism

“As the past few years have been a period of disruption and isolation, or pause and discovery (or more likely, a combination of both) this program aims to create space for reflection and growth.” 

–Joyce Rosario, City of Vancouver Arts, Culture, and Tourism 

“We received 101 applications for 8 spots in this pilot program. The volume and quality of those applications allowed us to better understand the different perspectives of leadership within our community and indicated a real need for a program like this. For those who consented, the GVPTA is compiling aggregated data to make a case for future programs of this nature.”

–Kenji Maeda, GVPTA Executive Director 

The application process took place in Summer 2023, and in September 2023, the selected participants began a year-long process of learning, sharing, building, rethinking, and leading alongside a community of peers.

The REFLECT program participants are:

Cameron Peal

Cameron Peal

Cameron Peal (he/they) is a Vancouver based (Musqueam, Squamish, and Tseil- Waututh territories) theatre artist, from the Nisga'a Nation of Northwest BC. His current passion is in exploring the abstract; “how can I express something beyond the boundaries of what’s literal, what’s already clear?” His work looks to blur the boundaries between art forms and genres. 

He has had the pleasure of working, so far, for companies such as Electric Company Theatre, Savage Production Society, Zee Zee Theatre, Pi Theatre, Neworld Theatre, Pacific Theatre, Raven Spirit Dance, Rumble Theatre, Touchstone Theatre, Ruby Slippers Theatre, Firehall Arts Centre, and Studio 58 (to name a few). Most recently, he was assistant director on Hurricane Mona (Touchstone Theatre, Ruby Slippers Theatre). 

Actor/director/writer, Studio 58 graduate
Debi Wong

Debi Wong

Debi Wong is a fearless and award-winning XR producer and multidisciplinary artist who has made a significant impact on the contemporary operatic scene and creative technology sector. She is the Founding Artistic Director of re:Naissance Opera in Vancouver, BC and co-executive producer and co-curator of Signals Creative Technology Expo at The Vancouver International Film Festival. 

Some of her recent accolades include: Co-Executive Producer of Whipped Cream’s music video experience, The Dark (CIMA Bold Award Winner, SXSW Official XR Experience Selection); Co-creator and Executive Producer of Live From The Underworld (Aurea XR Award, double winner in creativity and innovation), and she recently opened TED 2023 conference singing as The Solar Ambassador in K Allado McDowell’s new AI opera, Song Of The Ambassadors. Wong was recently named one of the world’s 100 most influential experiential designers by XP Land’s XLIST.
Gavan Cheema

Gavan Cheema

Gavan Cheema is a director, writer, producer, dramaturg and co-Artistic Director of Theatre Conspiracy. She is based out of Vancouver: the traditional, unceded, and occupied territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She is a first generation Canadian, with roots coming from the five rivers of Punjab. She is a recent recipient of the Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Emerging Artist at the Jessie Richardson Awards.

Gavan’s play Himmat premiered in Vancouver at The Cultch in May 2022 and will be presented at the Surrey Civic Theatres in April 2024. She holds a double major from the University of British Columbia in Theatre and History, as well as a high school teaching certification. She has created work and directed for various local, national and international stages and has extensive experience in youth engagement, theatre education and workshop facilitation. 

Select directing and dramaturgy credits: Conspiracy Now: Is Democracy Dead (Theatre Conspiracy), Same Difference (Theatre Conspiracy), SWIM (Theatre Conspiracy/Pandemic Theatre), Catfish (Alley Theatre), Danceboy (Tremors Festival/ Vancouver Art Gallery Fuse), Burqa Boutique (Revolver Festival), Beauty and the Beast Pantomime (Diamond School). 
Nara Monteiro

Nara Monteiro

Nara Monteiro (they/she) is a Brazilian-Canadian writer, editor, and nerd who crunches numbers, sends snail mail, and hosts events as the Publisher at Room, Canada’s oldest feminist literary magazine. After hours, find them working on a Master of Publishing from Simon Fraser University and flexing their editorial muscles. After-after hours, they spend their time devouring books and running off to the mountains.

Nara was born in São Paulo, Brazil on Purí, Tekohá (Guarani), and Mbya land. They were raised under Treaty 13 in Toronto on traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, Anishnabeg, Chippewa, Haudenosaunee, and Wendat peoples. Today Nara lives in Vancouver on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) lands.
Ogheneofegor Obuwoma

Ogheneofegor Obuwoma

Ogheneofegor Obuwoma (She/They) is a Nigerian storyteller, writer, and arts worker with a BFA in film and communications from Simon Fraser University. A key question in their practice is, “What does it mean to be a body in relationship to this world and time?” Their work as an artist and writer emerges from an investigation of questions of the body and self as it relates to the nuanced and ever-changing state of contemporary Nigerian society and culture. In exploring these ideas of self and community, she utilizes concepts of African futurisms and a visual language derived from lived experience and the vastness of the spiritual. Fegor grounds their practice in traditions of care and re-imagination and lives in Vancouver on unceded Coast Salish lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Pawan Deol

Pawan Deol

Executive Director of Programming, Indian Summer Arts Society

Pawan devotes herself to exploring the power of meaningful gathering through her work. She proposes that gathering itself is an art, and that joyful design cultivates togetherness and events that inspire purpose. For Pawan, connection is transformative, spaces and places can uplift, and art has the power to heal. 

Pawan has written and produced several Leo award-winning films, including Unkept and Deeper I Go. Before joining the Indian Summer team in 2019, she also worked in TV and radio, bringing more representative storytelling to the forefront. Pawan has produced live TV specials, radio documentaries, music videos, and wellness events. She has a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University.

Always ready for deeply personal and provoking conversations (draw a question card, go on!), Pawan loves self-growth books and podcasts, and rearranging her furniture weekly. She lives on Coast Salish, Semiahmoo, and S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō) lands, colonially known as Surrey, Canada.
Starr Muranko

Starr Muranko

Starr Muranko is dancer/choreographer, Mother and Co-Artistic Director with ​Raven Spirit Dance.  As a choreographer she is most interested in the stories that we carry within our bodies and Ancestral connections to land that transcend time and space.  Her work has been shared locally and nationally including the Dance Centre, Talking Stick Festival, Coastal Dance Festival, Dancing on the Edge, Native Earth Performing Arts, Weesageechak Begins to Dance, Impact Festival and InFringing Dance Festival.  Featured works include Chapter 21, Spine of the Mother and before7after as well as recent collaborative work Confluence and her current research for a new piece Tracing Bones

A proud company dancer with the Dancers of Damelahamid since 2005, she has toured across Canada and internationally and trained under the guidance and mentorship of the late Elder Margaret Harris. She is currently Artist-in-Residence at Ballet BC alongside colleague and longtime collaborator Margaret Grenier.  She values inter-generational mentorship and has facilitated workshops through ArtsStarts, Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre, Native Education College and Vines Art Festival and holds a BFA in Dance from SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts. Starr honours and celebrates her mixed Ancestry of Omushkegowuk Cree (Moose Cree First Nation - Treaty 9), French and German in all of her work. 
Ziyian Kwan

Ziyian Kwan

Ziyian Kwan (she/her) is a 1 st generation Chinese Filipina settler, who works as a dance artiston the unceded ancestral territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Since 1988, she has performed over 100 original works by an eclectic range of choreographers on international stages and in 2017, received The Dance Centre’s Isadora Award for excellence in performance. Her own creations, which have been performed across Canada and in Europe, are collages of imagery, movement, and language. Ziyian is the founding Artistic Director of Odd Meridian Arts, with which she visions and stewards programming that supports the creative adventures of artists from across disciplines. With Odd Meridian, Ziyian spearheaded Morrow, an intentional cultural space that supports a growing community of artists in their work and connections with people. 

Energy at play, in bodies in worlds:

​Who is this program for, and why now?

REFLECT is for underrepresented, equity-deserving individuals including Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), Black, racialized, 2SLGBTQ+, Deaf, and disability communities, and/or those whose practice centres underrepresented and equity-deserving communities. The program is open to individuals within the arts and culture sector who are interested in (re)building community, sharing experiences, and learning together. 

Leadership, for the purposes of this program, is broadly inclusive of individuals, regardless of age, who have demonstrated qualities and characteristics that inspire, engage, and empower others. Individuals do not need to have been the formal “leader” of an organization in order to apply.

As the past few years have been a period of disruption and isolation, or pause and discovery (or more likely, a combination of both) this program aims to create space for reflection and growth.

REFLECT is an opportunity for participants to explore an idea or research area related to their work or practice, share and learn within an intergenerational cohort, and contribute to their own leadership development.

Exploration will take on various forms based on the individual and their career aspirations. This may include but is not limited to, mentorship, self-directed study, public engagement, and practice-based research.

​How were participants selected?

Participants were selected through a two-step application process. Step one was submitting an Expression of Interest. A shortlist of applicants were selected from this pool and invited to an interview. All applicants invited to step two received remuneration.

​Application Timeline

  • May 1, 2023 at 4:00pm PDT - Expressions of interest closed
  • May 23 - 31, 2023 - Interviews over Zoom
  • Mid-June, 2023 - Selected participants will be notified
  • Late June / Early July, 2023 - Online orientation session
  • September, 2023 - Start of program

​Program Time Commitment and Fee

  • September, 2023: Opening session (5 hours)
  • October, 2023 to May, 2024: Monthly meetings (3 hours each; alternating in-person and online)
  • June, 2024: Closing session (5 hours)
  • Optional activities between meetings
  • Participants receive a fee of up to $12,000 for the duration of the program


  • Must live or work within the City of Vancouver, or be engaged with and have a direct impact on individuals or organizations within the City of Vancouver.
  • Be available to attend in-person meetings throughout the program. 
  • Identify as an individual who is Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), Black, racialized, 2SLGBTQ+, Deaf, and/or living with a disability; and/or whose practice centres equity-deserving and underrepresented communities.
  • Open to individuals working or engaging in or with any arts or cultural discipline or practice, including artists and arts and culture workers.

​Info Session Recording

On April 17, we held an info session to share the intention of the REFLECT program, provide a walkthrough of the program guidelines and expectations, Expression of Interest questions, and selection process, and to answer questions. 
View the recording here or by clicking the video below. 

ASL interpretation and captioning were provided.

​Who do I contact if I have questions?

Feel free to contact any one of the follow program organizers:
  • Kenji Maeda, GVPTA -
  • Heather Redfern & Nicole McLuckie, The Cultch -
  • Joyce Rosario, City of Vancouver -

REFLECT is a joint initiative between The Cultch and the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA), in collaboration with the City of Vancouver Arts Culture and Tourism.

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