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Meet the Arts Ahead 2024 Co-Chairs!

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We sat down with Leah Marcelo and Taylor Howard to discuss their experiences as co-chairs and thoughts on Arts Ahead 2024! 

Read more about Leah and Taylor.

Leah Marcelo
Taylor Howard

What is the theme for Arts Ahead 2024?

Taylor: The theme of Arts Ahead 2024 is “Interweaving Threads: Cultural Collaboration in the Arts.” We’re basically looking at a bunch of cultural collaboration and how that affects the arts as a whole sector.

What is the importance of cultural collaboration in the arts? Both in Toronto and internationally.

Leah: Cultural collaboration creates a platform for multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral projects that are inclusive and where respect and understanding between artists and art workers are maintained. 

So when we say “cultural collaboration” we really need to identify how one defines collaboration. From my years of experience, it really comes down to understanding how to balance respectful disagreements and understand unique perspectives and experiences. 

This definition gave a foundation on how I manage projects and communicate with artists and arts workers. I think this as someone from the Philippines in an international sense. I think this relates to how we should be managing projects in Toronto, in terms of being cultural collaborators in the arts.

What impact has cultural collaboration had on your experience as an artist?

Taylor: As an artist, especially as a comic artist, I mainly deal with people from all over the world. So I’ve been working on comics with people from London, I’ve been working with people from Qatar. 

We’re bringing a bunch of different ideas and a bunch of different work styles into how we make comics because how they do it over in Asia is way different from how we do it in North America. So it’s a huge thing for us. It’s such a huge part of what makes me me and how my art has improved and grown.

What has been the biggest learning opportunity for you with organizing Arts Ahead?

Leah: I’m an international student. Even though I’ve been managing different events in the Philippines, this is the very first time that I was able to organize an event with such diverse colleagues. From that experience, it gave me an opportunity to see how different people work together, especially with how diverse our class is, and how I’m able to be respectful and understanding of their cultures and their ways of managing an event.

What will artists and arts workers gain from attending Arts Ahead 2024?

Taylor: Mainly, I think you’ll get a huge look into how cultural collaboration is affecting the arts and how you can contribute to that and add it to your artistic repertoire. But you’ll also be seeing a lot of new emerging talent that you could potentially work with in the future.

“Interweaving Threads: Cultural Collaboration in the Arts” takes place on February 21, 2024.

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