New Art Leader
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Tuesday, February 11, 2020
11:45 AM
 - 1:30 PM

Canadian Arts Leadership

Weyni Mengesha (Soulpepper), Sasha Suda (National Gallery of Canada) and Joana Vicente (TIFF)
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New Leaders, New Perspectives on Canadian Arts & Culture

For centuries, the arts have been used as a tool to tell stories that reflect the past and envision the future. At times when we feel the most divided, galleries, film and theatre have been able to build bridges across class, race and gender. Some of Canada’s most lauded arts institutions have newly appointed leadership. What opportunities do these new leaders see for their institutions and beyond in the coming decades? How can Canada harness it’s arts energy to inspire a new generation of Canadians in a world of distractions?

Join Canadian Club Toronto on February 11 when Weyni Mengesha (Soulpepper), Sasha Suda (National Gallery of Canada) and Joana Vicente (TIFF) discuss new leadership in the community, and opportunities for the next decade. 

Weyni Mengesha 
Artistic Director, Soulpepper Theatre Company

Weyni Mengesha is the Artistic Director of Soulpepper Theatre Company and an award-winning director, known for her groundbreaking work and community engagement. Weyni is responsible for two of the most popular shows to come out of Canada in the last two decades – da Kink in my Hair (Mirvish Productions) and Kim’s Convenience (Soulpepper) both have gone on to break box office records, tour nationally and internationally, and both having been developed into television shows playing on CBC, Global, and Netflix. Other recent work has been seen in New York City and Pasadena, garnering a NAACP nomination for Best Direction; and she has been nominated for the Outstanding Direction Dora Award five times. She has been an instructor at the National Theatre School of Canada, and was Co-Artistic Director and teacher with The Artists Mentoring Youth Project for 7 years. In 2017, Weyni was one of the Women In View “Five in Focus”, and was recently named one of the 50 most influential people in Toronto by Toronto Life Magazine.

Sasha Suda
Director & CEO, National Gallery of Canada 

Sasha Suda is the Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.

The youngest person to assume this post in more than a century, Sasha was appointed in February 2019 and is passionate about revitalizing the Gallery’s relevance to audiences across Canada and beyond. Her ambitions for the Gallery reflect both the times in which we live and art’s importance to them: to bridge cultures, to engender diversity and perspective, and to unleash the power that civic institutions hold.

To this end, Sasha has demonstrated immediate leadership by establishing three core institutional values that will help the workforce move in a bold new direction: the Gallery is centered on art; it offers a warm and generous welcome; and it embraces the unfamiliar and the future.

Born in Toronto to Czech parents, Sasha studied at Princeton University before completing her Master’s degree in art history at Williams College and her PhD at New York University. Her professional career began at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where she worked in various roles in the Medieval Department between 2003 and 2011. Following this, Sasha returned to her native Toronto to work at the Art Gallery of Ontario, first as an assistant curator, and eventually as Curator of European Art and the Elliott Chair of Prints & Drawings. In these roles, she led major international exhibition projects and spearheaded innovative digital initiatives that presented historical art to audiences in a new light.

In addition to her work in major art institutions, Sasha sat on the Association of Art Museum Curators’ Committee for Career Advancement and represented Ontario at the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.

She lives in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood of Ottawa with her two children, Frances and Felix, her husband Albert, and their trusty dog Phil.


Joana Vicente
Executive Director & Co-Head, TIFF

Joana Vicente is the Executive Director and the Co-Head of the Toronto International Film Festival. She previously served as the Executive Director of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) as well as the Made in NY Media Center by IFP. Vicente is an Academy Award-nominated producer of over 40 feature films by acclaimed directors. Vicente is also recognized as a leading figure of the digital film revolution. Her pioneering digital production companies Blow Up Pictures and HDNetFilms, which she launched with partners Jason Kliot, Mark Cuban, and Todd Wagner, ushered in a new era of digital filmmaking that transformed the landscape of American independent film production and distribution. Vicente was named by Variety as one of the 60 Most Influential People in New York, and was named to Variety’s Women’s Impact List twice. She is a recipient of the “Made in New York Award,” which recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the growth of NYC’s media and entertainment industries. Before turning her attention to film, Vicente served as a press attaché for the Portuguese delegate to the European Parliament and a radio news producer for the United Nations.