Board of Directors
The Winnipeg Arts Council Board of Directors consists of 16 individuals. Six are elected by artists and representatives of arts and cultural organizations, and six are appointed by City Council from a list of nominees from the community at large. One City Councillor serves in a voting capacity and one City staff member serves in a non-voting capacity. The chair is elected from within the Council and is replaced on the Council by another individual from the same category. Once elected or appointed, the members of the Council represent the community and not the constituency that elected or nominated them. Members may serve a maximum of three two-year terms.
Jason Granger is currently the Director, Community Investment and Capacity Building with United Way of Winnipeg. He has worked in the area of community development for the past ten years. After completing his education in city planning, Jason served as the Executive Director of Art City (2003-2008) where he was able to combine his interests in community art and neighbourhood development. Since 2008, Jason has been with United Way of Winnipeg, working in the areas of community investment, poverty reduction, agency relations, and capacity building in the non-profit sector. At a volunteer level, Jason is a founding steering committee member of Camp Aurora, a camp for LGBTTQ and allied youth, and in recent years has served on the organizing committee for the Run for Rights.
Jason recognizes the importance of a strong arts and cultural sector as a key component to vibrant city building. He believes in the power of creativity for both individual and community development.
Jason’s educational background includes a Bachelor of General Studies degree from Brandon University and a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree and a Master of City Planning degree from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba.
Vice Chair (Council Director)
Andrew McLaren is a principal and consultant with InterGroup Consultants Ltd. in Winnipeg. Andrew graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science in environmental science and a Masters of natural resource management. He assists clients across Canada in the areas of utility rate regulation; energy policy; project planning and public engagement; and environmental stewardship programming. Andrew has volunteered on the board of directors of Film Training Manitoba, on the organizing committee of the Winnipeg Pride Run and as an usher and ticket seller with the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Andrew lives in Winnipeg’s historic exchange district and enjoys the many arts and cultural opportunities Winnipeg has to offer.
Secretary/Treasurer (Arts Community Director - Large-sized Organizations)
Kerry Dangerfield is a founding partner of PRA (Prairie Research Associates) Inc., a market research and evaluation firm based in Winnipeg. PRA's Winnipeg and Ottawa offices have a full-time staff of 30 and a part-time staff of 80. As the firm's managing partner, Kerry continues to be extensively involved in all aspects of the research process, sharing his over 30 years of research knowledge with local, regional, and national clients. He holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba. Born in Winnipeg, Kerry has chosen the city as his home.
For over two decades, Kerry has been an active volunteer, especially for non-profit arts organizations. He was a long-time board member with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (MTC) and was Chair of the Board of Trustees from 2012-2014. He is currently a member of Royal MTC's Advisory Council and Audience Development Committee. He is a past-President of, and continues to sit on, the Board of Directors of Virtuosi Concerts Inc. He is a board member of the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL Winnipeg), an organization dedicated to building affordable housing for artists. He was also the Chair and then co-Chair of the Direct Marketing Committee for the United Way's Campaign Cabinet.
Kerry has experience working on non-profit boards, is knowledgeable about the local arts community, and simply loves the arts. He brings to the Winnipeg Arts Council this enthusiasm for the arts and looks forward to working with other like-minded Winnipeggers on the board.
Past Chair and Chair Emerita
Vonnie Von Helmolt
From her Manitoba base, Vonnie Von Helmolt produces internationally released theatrical and documentary features, television movies, miniseries and specials. Her Canadian dance productions for the CBC and BRAVO! has garnered numerous film and television awards world-wide, including an International Emmy. Nominations include US Cable Ace Awards and Banff Rockies. Her Emmy-winning dance film, Dracula - Pages from a Virgin's Diary, directed by Guy Maddin, screened at the Cannes Film Festival, was a TIFF Canadian Top Ten Feature Film, on the Village Voice New York Critics list of the top 10 films released that year, won numerous Canadian and international film festival awards, and continues to screen at festivals around the world. Her most recent theatrical documentary, TuTuMUCH, set in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Professional Division school, was awarded Best Documentary at two of the largest youth film festivals in the world, in China and Chicago. It screened at 60 Cineplex Odeon theatres across Canada, at the Cannes Film Festival and at numerous festivals world-wide. TuTuMUCH was released in the US in 2014.
Vonnie is the Past Chair of the board of the Winnipeg Arts Council, and she was the Founding Chair of Film Training Manitoba, and the Manitoba District Council of the Director's Guild of Canada. She currently chairs the Finance committee of the Manitoba chapter of the Documentary Organization of Canada, and also chaired the Finance Committee on the national executive of the Documentary Organization of Canada.
As a board member of the Winnipeg Arts Council, she takes advantage of every opportunity to attend the multitude of art, music, dance and theatre productions that are a constant of Winnipeg's social and cultural life.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Diane Berger received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Manitoba and went on to study voice at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and private study in Vancouver, BC. She has performed as a soloist and chorister in recital, opera and television and has taught voice for the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts, the University of Manitoba School of Music and Providence College. She is member of the Manitoba Registered Music Teachers’ Association, the National Association of Teachers of Singing and a founding member of the Little Opera Company.
Arts Community Director - Medium-sized Organizations
Melanie Dean is a member of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation. She’s currently the Director, Executive Training with the Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, Inc. a non-profit organization that builds leadership capacity in Indigenous communities across Canada. She’s also Executive Director of Empowering Indigenous Youth in Governance and Leadership, a registered charity that is youth-led and provides meaningful skill development for youth.
Melanie attained a BA at the University of Winnipeg and has worked in various Federal Government departments; she was a Child Care worker with Little Red Spirit’s Head Start program, a Powwow instructor with the Rising Sun Powwow Club at Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre, and Cultural Coordinator with Seven Oaks School Division’s Keeping Balance after school program. Melanie has performed in various onstage plays such as, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, The Crisis in Oka Manitoba with Red Roots Theatre Company, Doug Nepinak’s The Life of Ruth and BBQ, August Osage County with Manitoba Theatre Centre, and Jail Baby and Empty with Sarasvati Productions. Melanie is a jingle dress dancer and enjoys travelling the Powwow trail with her family.
Donna Fletcher is an accomplished actor, singer, director, and educator with a wide range of national experience in theatre, musical theatre, and symphonic work. Proud of her prairie roots, Donna earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Manitoba, a diploma in Music Theatre from The Banff Centre for the Arts, and a Master of Music from The University of Toronto. In July of 2012 Donna was inducted into the Rainbow Stage Wall of Fame and has the distinction of being the first Winnipeg born female to direct at Rainbow Stage. Donna directed the first Regional Production of the Broadway classic Phantom of the Opera and is co-creator of the Musical Theatre Company Dry Cold Productions which is celebrating its 21st season.
Donna is a Sessional Voice and Musical Theatre Instructor at the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music as well as an instructor at the University of Winnipeg Theatre Department. Also a Faculty member of the NUOVA Opera and Musical Theatre Training Programme in Edmonton, Donna is the Manitoba Councillor for Canadian Actors Equity Association and a nationally acclaimed Teacher, Adjudicator and Clinician. Her favourite role is being mum to Amalia Grace.
Arts Community Director - Small-sized Organizations
Seema is an artist, writer, educator, and curator. She is a new-ish member of Winnipeg having moved here in 2013 from Saskatchewan via a 5 year stop-over in Ireland. With a dual background in the arts and sciences, Seema connects these two worlds in her art and community activities through outreach programming, art-science curatorial projects, and her sculpture practise which critically engages scientific process and themes.
Seema currently serves as the VP on the Manitoba Craft Council Board and is also a member of Martha Street Studios, MAWA, the Edge, and CARFAC. Locally, she is a past member of Video Pool, and the Winnipeg Film Group, and in Saskatchewan is a past board member of the Saskatchewan Film-Pool and the MacKenzie Art Gallery.
Seema’s art practise includes fibre, photography, glass blowing, ceramics, film & video, digital media, taxidermy, and theatre. Dominantly craft oriented in material interests she uses these forms to bring audiences into the works’ larger issues through humour, responsive and interactive technologies, and tactile experience. She has exhibited in Canada, the USA, and Europe, and her work is also included in several anthologies as well appearing on radio and stage. She holds a BSc from McGill, an Associate Arts Diploma from the Ontario College of Art and Design, and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Over the past several years she’s taught at RISD, the University of Regina, and the University of Manitoba. She was the STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) coordinator for the Faculty of Science at the University of Manitoba for the past 4 years where she headed the STEAM and Science Rendezvous programs, as well as increasing outreach attention to indigenous communities by connecting art, science, and culture. Seema is a committed advocate for the arts and identifies these as an integral component of human advancement allowing us to think new ideas, develop solutions to our problems, and create bridges across communities.
Born in La Broquerie, Manitoba, Darrel Nadeau grew up on the family dairy farm. It is in this small yet proud francophone community that Darrel gained his family values and work ethic. Darrel went on to complete a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Manitoba. After one year in the private sector, Darrel accepted a position as a Foreign Service Officer with the Government of Canada. Here he gained insight on the public service as well as international affairs and diplomacy. After 3.5 years in Ottawa, Darrel decided to return to Manitoba and completed a master’s degree in business administration and a Certified Management Accountant designation. He would go on to work for 6 years as a Manager in Finance and Administration for a Winnipeg based national charitable organization. Here he discovered his passion for working in the non-profit sector all while utilizing his business training. In October 2017, Darrel was appointed Executive Director of Festival du Voyageur, merging his passion for the non-profit sector, his education and experience as well as his francophone heritage.
Arts Community Director - Individual Artists
Bola Opaleke is a Nigerian-Canadian poet. He holds a degree in City Planning from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. In 2011 he moved to Canada and became a Canadian citizen in 2016. His first poetry collection was published in 2012. He was a runner-up in the 2013 Thomas Morton Memorial Poetry Prize and also made the shortlist for the same contest in 2017. His poem “Ila Sisi, Ila Sisi” was also shortlisted in the 2017 Open Frontier Poetry Prize. In 2018, his poem “The Autobiography of Water” was runner-up in the CBC poetry contest.
Bola’s work has been nominated for many poetry prizes including the prestigious Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Bettering American Poetry. Bola is also a writer's grant recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts, Manitoba Arts Council, and Winnipeg Arts Council.
You will find his work in a few Journals like Frontier Poetry, Rising Phoenix Review, Writers Resist, Rattle, Cleaver, One, The Nottingham Review, The Puritan, The Literary Review of Canada, Sierra Nevada Review, Dissident Voice, Poetry Quarterly, The Indianapolis Review, Canadian Literature, Empty Mirror, Poetry Pacific, Drunk Monkeys, Temz Review and many others.
Julie Penner is a Winnipeg violinist and radio producer. She lived in Toronto for many years, where she performed and recorded with a wide variety of artists, including Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think. She has won Juno Awards for her work with Do Make Say Think (Instrumental Album of the Year), Broken Social Scene (Best Alternative Album) and The Happiness Project (Best Contemporary Jazz Album). Since returning to Winnipeg, she has been playing violin with JP Hoe, Slow Leaves and Heavy Bell. A long-time lover of radio, she was the Music Producer for CBC Radio’s Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean from 2005 until the show’s finale in 2017.
Julie was on the West End Cultural Centre’s Board of Directors for six years and currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of the Radio Starmaker Fund in Toronto. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Winnipeg.
Arts Community Director - Project Grant Organizations
Andrea Ratuski is best known as a music producer and host at CBC in Winnipeg, Manitoba, most notably as host and producer of Northern Lights. She is an award-winning radio documentary maker. From 1985 to 2015, she worked on virtually all of the national and local radio music programs, including Canada Live, In Concert, Tempo, Choral Concert and RSVP. She was also a writer on the CBC websites, Manitoba SCENE, which was devoted to stories about arts, culture and food, and CBC Music, the national music website.
She teaches music appreciation classes at Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts and the University of Winnipeg PACE program and others. She is a contributing editor of International Taste and Travel Magazine and writes for a variety of publications. Andrea also enjoys hosting musical events, such as the Winnipeg Philharmonic concerts and the Agassiz Chamber Music Festival.
Andrea holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Manitoba and a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Arts Community Director - Individual Artists
David A. Robertson
David A. Robertson is the winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Beatrice Mosionier Indigenous Writer of the Year Award and the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer. His books include When We Were Alone (winner of the Governor General’s Award, a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and a McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People); Will I See? (winner of the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award, Graphic Novel category); the YA novel Strangers (recipient of the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction); and Monsters (a McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People). He is also author of the upcoming memoir, Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory and the middle-grade fantasy novel, The Barren Grounds. David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.
Liz Wreford is Principal Landscape Architect of Public City, a trans-disciplinary design studio in Winnipeg. She is a graduate of the University of Manitoba and has professional experience across Canada, the United States and Australia. Liz is the landscape architect of well-known Winnipeg winter icons Manitoboggan, Crokicurl, and Hygge House. She has taught landscape architecture and environmental design studios at the Universities of Toronto and Manitoba. In 2018, Liz founded Building Equality in Architecture Prairies to advance excellence and diversity across city-building professions in central Canada. She is co-Executive Director of Storefront Manitoba where she continues her advocacy work in the built environment and the public realm.
City Council Representative (Voting)
Councillor Kevin Klein
City Representative (Non-Voting)
John Kiernan is the Director of Planning, Property and Development for the City of Winnipeg. He has a passion for the design, development and use of public spaces and leads a team of over 600 department staff. This integrated team provides a wide range of services related to city-building including land planning, property, civic buildings and the facilitation of private development.
The Planning, Property Development Department is responsible for: city planning; urban design; land development approvals; building permits and inspections; over 900 City-owned buildings (pools, arenas, libraries, and offices); development of public spaces including parks, plazas, and streetscapes; and the operation of three municipal cemeteries.
Prior to becoming Director John led the Urban Design Division for the City of Winnipeg and delivered projects facilities centered on stakeholder and community collaboration.