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Meet Arts Ahead Co-Chairs 2023

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Rebecca Reid and Yash Chhabria became the Co-Chairs of our arts symposium after a vote that confirmed their leadership and their ability to unite the entire class with the sole objective of making a great event.

How did the team come up with the idea for the theme of Arts Ahead 2022-2023 – Lost, Found, and Unbound: Exploring Overlooked Opportunities for Arts Engagement?

Yash: Deciding on a theme with twenty diverse minds was not easy, however, we had various brainstorming sessions to come up with something for everybody to resonate with. The challenge we faced while coming up with a theme was to not repeat any of the previous Arts Ahead themes.

The processes set by our Program Coordinator, Rebecca and previous cohorts aided us in jotting different ideas on a thought board. What helped us was to select ideas that made sense to most of the class by voting and merging ideas to form a central theme.

Interestingly, during one of our class visits, we attended a panel and got introduced to the programming at the Union station. It is fascinating how a public transit terminal station could be a hub for the arts. The discussion during the panel encouraged the class to think about the “overlooked opportunities,” and that concept became the bare bones of the symposium.

The Centennial College Arts Symposium is back in person. Which are the biggest challenges for 2023?

Reid: One of the biggest issues for us was trying to return to a community that was still reeling from the impact that Covid has had on the arts. In the past there were more resources available to support one another, but with the arts industry still recovering, some of the relationships and supports that Arts Ahead had relied on in previous years are still in the process of getting themselves back on their feet. This meant that we had to work a little harder to get the same results. We are also the first in-person symposium in 3 years, which means we have to deal with the reality of Covid in a live environment and that means running through what measures we need to consider in order to run a successful event.

What are the main characteristics of the team that is developing this year’s symposium?

Reid: This year’s cohort is extremely diverse. We have backgrounds ranging from ballerinas to journalists to technicians. One of the main things that defines this year is in the strength that this diversity lends us. Each person has been able to take their own skillsets and use them in a way that they aren’t necessarily used to. There has been a kind of exploration that has developed through the year that has been interesting to see. 

Yash: I also love how diverse we all are in the team–in terms of where we come from and the experiences we’ve had in the past. It is the love for arts that binds us together despite cultural and knowledge differences.

By working in teams and achieving milestones, every individual is discovering their interests and the skills, they didn’t know they had. What I admire about the group is that people are not afraid to face challenges–there are moments when they are overwhelmed, but they always find someone on the team to rely on. What drives us all is the appetite for knowledge and the desire to grow.

How your background can contribute to this symposium?

Reid: My background is very theatre heavy. I spent a lot of my time managing in creative spaces, which required creative solutions. I think that working to organize spaces that invite chaos has trained me to think quickly, brainstorm creatively, and engage with many departments in constructive ways. Through this process I found myself leaning on my training as a stage manager, both in terms of organization and paperwork, but also regarding interpersonal issues and confidentiality.

Yash: Working in various departments–marketing, programming, and production has been beneficial for me to understand the needs of the individual teams we have. It allows me to be in other people’s shoes during certain tasks. With some experience managing events in the past, I am aware of the things that may go wrong, and I try my best to look for red flags.

Open communication is one of my core values, and I aim to maintain that within the team. Everyone brings something unique to the table, and as a Co-Chair, my job is to piece it all into a narrative that makes sense. Of course, I have support from my Co-Chair, Reid and the beacon of Arts Management program, Rebecca.

Look more information about Co-Chairs 2023 at: Meet the Team: Co-chairs

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