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Panel # 1: Cultural Narratives

Cultural Narratives is a panel that explores uplifting underrepresented voices in the arts sector.

Charles C. Smith

Founder and Executive Director, Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario

Charles C. Smith is a poet, playwright and essayist who has written and edited fourteen books. He studied poetry and drama with William Packard at New York University and Herbert Berghof Studios, and drama at the Frank Silvera’s Writers’ Workshop in Harlem. He won second prize for his play Last Days for the Desperate from Black Theatre Canada, edited three collections of poetry and his poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Poetry Canada Review, Quill and Quire, Descant, Dandelion, Fiddlehead and others. He has received grants for writing from the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.

Charles is the Executive Director of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario and Artistic Director of the Wind in the Leaves collective. His recent books include: Travelogue of the Bereaved, The Dirty War: The Making of the Myth of Black Dangerousness, Whispers (2014), Destination Out (2018) and Searching for Eastman, released in September 2021 by Mawenzi House.

Danielle Parris

Arts Manager, Cultural Promoter

Danielle Parris is a Toronto-based arts manager and cultural promoter. Her work is grounded in community building, programming, and arts education, as well as creating inclusive and accessible spaces for underrepresented communities. She has worked with various arts organizations to facilitate workshops, develop fundraising capacity, produce events, and design programming services.

Danielle has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Toronto Metropolitan University and received her Graduate Certification in Arts Management from Centennial College. In 2021 she received the Victor C. Polley Protégé Award, which recognizes the work of an emerging arts administrator. Danielle currently works at Small World Music as their Program + Production Coordinator.


Performer, Producer, Composer, Storyteller

Kobè is an accomplished Ghanaian-Bermudian performer, producer, composer and storyteller. His artistry has garnered several Dora, Juno, Chalmers and other awards for his prolific work in music, media, film, television, dance and theatre. Kobè recently made history as an orchestra member in the first all-black Canadian opera production, “Treemonisha.” Other clients include FIFA, CBC, Nissan, Soulpepper, Shaw, Stratford Festival, Montana Steele, arts councils and institutions.

Performing internationally for princes, presidents and preschoolers, Kobè uses electric and acoustic instruments designed and built by himself. His trademarks are hilarious stage interactions and the eclectic rhythms of “afrosonic jollof,” “The sound when jazz, rock, reggae, hip hop come face to face with their ancestors.” In demand as a creative collaborator and accompanist.

Kobè also leads, Djungle Bouti Orchestra, with all-star members from Trinidad to Tanzania, Portugal and Algeria to S. Africa. Their “Djazz 2.1.4” album was acclaimed “an audio decoding of African DNA” and nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award. The former AfroFest President/ Artistic Director, #1 prime-time radio host and Michèzo! festival founder is currently Cultural Development Director at Abandze Embassy, in Toronto’s W. Queen W, arts & entertainment triangle. @paapakobe


Parul Pandya

Community Builder, Consultant, Programmer, Producer

Parul Pandya has been skillfully working in non-profit in various roles through the past two decades, including as a community builder, consultant, programmer and producer. After managing community grants for the largest government funder in Canada, she received much interest for continued collective impact by being asked to serve organizations in a variety of capacities. She runs her own consulting company, Community Impact Consulting, specializing in anti-oppression and equity based practices. Her attraction to advocacy emerged with her work as a Queer South Asian freelance writer/poet, over two decades ago. She has a deep passion for social justice and its intersectionality with the arts, which she teaches about at both Centennial College and Humber College.

Parul is an enthusiastic equity fairy, who finds deep groundedness in social justice intersecting with the arts. She believes in inspiring change through motivation. When not working, Parul is watching sports, caring for her 80+ plants, or playing with her cat, Kali. She is obsessed with true crime, but remains a very gentle human.

Parul lives and works from Tkaronto, the ancestral territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. As a settler, and a descendant of immigrants, she is grateful for the opportunity to live and work on these beautiful lands, and she is committed to actively learning and unlearning in order to make progress towards true reconciliation.

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