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16-1265 Howe Street
Vancouver BC, V6Z 1R3

Unceded Territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam),
Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh
(Tsleil-Waututh) Nations

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221A works with artists and designers to research and develop social, cultural and ecological infrastructure.


221A envisions a pluralistic society in which all people have the means to access and make culture.

Organizing Values

  • Access as an ongoing practice
  • Accountable to community and neighbours
  • Anti-disposability (no start and no end)
  • Anti-racism
  • Artists’ work is essential
  • Communities self-organizing
  • Embrace complex (salty) conversations
  • Encourage learning between age groups
  • Instrumentalize dominant structures against themselves (Billy-Ray Belcourt)
  • Joy of cultural work
  • Kinship and kindness as method
  • Love as process
  • Moving at the pace of trust
  • No market housing in battleground neighbourhoods
  • Nurture relationships amongst cultures and across generations
  • Nurture the ecosystem
  • Regenerate the art and design sector
  • Repair infrastructure
  • Transparent communication with artists

Annual Report

A wide shot of the x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓ New Growth《新生林》garden seen from the street, with its gates open and a light covering of snow spread over its grounds. Photo by Nicole Kelly Westman.
A wide shot of the x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓ New Growth《新生林》garden at Semi-Public 半公開 seen from the street, with its gates open and a light covering of snow spread over its grounds.

Brief History

Beginning as a student-led initiative in 2005, the organization was initially animated by an opposition to the division between contemporary art and design. Leaving the university grounds in 2008 to establish its first public exhibition space, the organization would be shaped by the history and upheavals of its new home in Chinatown, the embattled neighbourhood itself a microcosm of a global economic recession and the transformation of Vancouver before and after the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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Board of Directors

Virginia Hong, Chair and Chair of Finance Committee, Board of Directors

Virginia is a collaborative leader with over 25 years of progressive experience in the non-profit and post-secondary education sectors. Born and raised in the traditional and ancestral territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, she relocated to the unceded, ancestral homelands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations 12 years ago. Professionally, she has been recognized for building sustainable and strategic business and donor relationships. As the Senior Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the University of British Columbia’s incredible fundraising team, Virginia specializes in working with strategic and complex donor relationships that provide enriching support for the University community. Read more

Julia Aoki, Vice-Chair and Chair of People Committee, Board of Directors

Julia Aoki is an administrator, writer, researcher, and advocate. Currently the Executive Director of Megaphone, she has served as General Manager and Programming Director of the Powell Street Festival, the General Manager of VIVO Media Arts Centre, and volunteered with advocacy organizations, such as the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres and DTES SRO Collaborative. Her writing on cultural expressions and community formations that are overlooked and underserved by commercial and political mechanisms and practices, can be found in TOPIA, Space and Culture and a collection by Lexington Books. Read more

Jeff Derksen, Board of Directors

Jeff Derksen the Dean and Associate Provost of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at SFU and an associate member of SFU’s Department of Geography. In 2004, Jeff formed – with the artists Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber — the research collective, Urban Subjects, whose work on cities, militancy, and autogestion has been presented in the form of edited volumes, bookworks, curated exhibitions, public posters, situations and para-academic seminars. Jeff was a Fulbright fellow at City University of New York in 1999 and was later a research fellow at The Centre for Place, Culture and Politics (2001-2003) where he worked and collaborated with the geographer Neil Smith. Read more

Marisa Espinosa, Chair of Governance Committee, Board of Directors

Marisa Espinosa is the Director of Major Studies for TransLink Planning and Policy, leading major infrastructure projects in transportation and land use. Marisa previously served as the Director of Scenario Planning for the Vancouver Plan, supporting the development of the City of Vancouver’s 30 year vision. Marisa has a long professional history in leading strategic planning and infrastructure development in both Vancouver, BC and the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more

Kathy Feng, Board of Directors

Kathy Feng (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist, born in Guangzhou, China, and is a guest living and working on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. As an immigrant and child of immigrants, she grew up between cultures in a constant process of learning, unlearning, and relearning. This framework informs the central themes to her work: in which memory and nostalgia are expressed through images, text, and the aesthetics of the temporal. Read more

Marci T. House, Board of Directors

Marci T. House was born in Chicago, the traditional, ancestral homeland of many Nations including the Three Fires Confederacy, comprising the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodewadmi Nations, as well as the Kiikaapoi, Peoria, Myaamia, and Illiniwek/Illinois Nations. She began her acting career at age seven, and studied acting, architecture, and urban planning, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Architecture from Louisiana Tech University, and a Master’s of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois (Chicago). Read more

Krystal Paraboo, Board of Directors

Krystal Paraboo (she/her) is an award-winning independent Curator, Art Historian, Writer, and Community Builder. She is currently a Public Art Planner with the City of Vancouver. Krystal places tremendous value on bridging activism and artistic expression with cultural development, based on the foundation of fostering authentic human connection and inclusive practices. She graduated with a Bachelor of Honour’s Degree from Queen’s University in 2013, with a double major in Art History & History. She also attended the Bader International Study Centre in the United Kingdom, with extensive study in Art History and Curatorial Studies on-site at the Courtauld Institute, National Gallery London, and the British Museum. Read more

Neeta Soni, Chair of Advancement Committee, Board of Directors

An experienced marketing, brand and strategic partnerships professional with unique experience leading successful integrated marketing communications campaigns, partnerships and change for complex new initiatives at the international to regional level. A leader dedicated to mentoring high performance teams and creating game changing results, Neeta has developed many successful initiatives over her career including client management across numerous categories including healthcare, education, financial services, retail, packaged goods, tourism and more. She led the team responsible for marketing, hospitality and client management for the 60+ blue chip national and international corporate partners who invested nearly $1 billion in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Read more

Katy Young, Chair of Space Committee, Board of Directors

Katy Young is an Architect who lives and works on unceded Coast Salish territory. She has 12 years of experience in cultural, commercial, residential and institutional architectural projects in the US and Canada. She has led renovations as a project manager at a construction firm and her design work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Mount Holyoke College and a Master of Architecture from the University of British Columbia, where she returns regularly as a guest critic. Katy is an Architect AIBC at Patkau Architects and a LEED Accredited Professional. Read more


Brian McBay, Executive Director

Brian McBay (he/him) is a leader in the non-profit arts and culture, social purpose real estate, and government sectors with over 17 years combined experience. He is part of a new generation of leaders aiming to advance the public appreciation of the arts while also reversing inequality, xenophobia, and colonialism in Canada. He was named a 2018 Fellow at the Salzburg Global Forum and has been invited to speak and write on art, policy, and urban development at a variety of institutions and public forums. In addition to his role at 221A, McBay has been appointed to non-profit and public sector boards including the City of Vancouver Arts and Culture Policy Council, the Chinese-Canadian Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada. Read more

Afuwa, Associate Director

Afuwa (she/her) is an artist and dedicated non-profit cultural worker who has worked in neighbouring social service and cultural organizations Watari Counselling and Support Services, The Capilano Review Magazine, and Gallery Gachet. She is a grant writer, workshop facilitator, curator, interviewer, writer, editor, and member of federal, municipal, and grassroots‐level committees. Over the last 17 years she has worked collaboratively to identify and lower the barriers that persist in art galleries and non-profit organizations. Read more

Oliver Barnes, Community Pollinator

Oliver Barnes is an activist, musician, community worker, neighbourhood explorer and avid collaborator currently based on the Unceded Territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. He is not interested in occupying the center and finds value in the often invisible labour of supporting, assisting, and building with those he cares for. As a musician and bandmate, he has toured across Turtle Island and Europe and has performed at festivals such as SXSW, NXNE, CMJ, POP Montreal and Sled Island. Barnes is of mixed Malagasy, Chinese & European ancestry. 

Soloman Chiniquay, Community Pollinator

Soloman Chiniquay is a documentary photographer and filmmaker living between xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, səl̓ilwətaɁɬ territory and his homelands of Treaty 7 territory. His lens-based work explores the ways he is welcomed to witness expressions of Indigeneity, creating imagery that attempts to show, in sometimes raw ways, the land and the people on it, the ways they use and connect to the land, and the artifacts they leave on it.

Tao Fei, Producer, Strategic Initiatives

Tao Fei is a cultural worker and writer with a background in interdisciplinary performance-based practice. She was previously Executive Producer of the POP Montreal International Music Festival, where she oversaw the expansion and integration of visual art, film, and public symposia programs alongside the festival’s core music programming, and produced annual site-based commissions and artist-led youth projects. She was in residence at the Banff Centre in 2018 as part of the Critical Art Writing Ensemble III, and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the newly-established Cinéma Public in Montreal. Born in Hong Kong, Tao is sixth-generation Chinese-Canadian with maternal family ties to Vancouver’s Chinatown. She moved back to Vancouver in 2019, after 20+ years away.

Michelle Fu, Head of Admin & Finance

Michelle Fu (she/her) is a cultural worker, designer, administrator and financial manager with 17 years experience in post-secondary, environmental design, and cultural sectors. She is most well known as a co-founder of 221A, where she has held progressive leadership roles and is currently the Head of Admin & Finance. Fu has been invited to speak on artist organizing at a variety of organizations and universities, including the Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery and The Future is You and Me, a mentorship program for young women of colour in the cultural sector. She holds a BDes in Industrial Design and has been involved in Board governance at a number of non-profit societies, most recently as a Treasurer of Artspeak (2018–2023).

Laura Fukumoto, Governance Coordinator

Laura Fukumoto was born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, and moved to the west coast to attend UBC in 2009. She graduated with a BFA in Theatre Production, and spent a handful of years working in theatre, TV and film as a costume designer, wardrobe assistant, wardrobe maintenance, and set supervisor. She has put pants on a lot of actors in town, usually backstage crouched in the dark! After spending a few summers at Bard on the Beach, and simultaneously holding part time and full time joe jobs (from Starbucks, to a ceramics studio, to serving Christmas parties at the Sheraton Wall Hotel, to operations managing two consignment stores, to, most recently, managing the fulfillment team of a fabric e-commerce retailer), Laura finally found her way to a certificate in Creative Writing at SFU. In 2023, Laura was asked back to The Writer’s Studio at SFU as the apprentice mentor in poetry, and enjoys a writing workshop bi-weekly on Tuesdays. She reads her poetry around town and gets paid to talk sometimes. She loves her grandma, choir, and mycology.

Valeen Jules, Community Pollinator

photo credit Soloman Chiniquay

Valeen Jules is a queer birth worker and wood carver from the Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwaka’wakw nations. Valeen has been known to friends as “the doula that never leaves”, “the eagle soaring above”, and “the only top at the table”.

Aubin Kwon, Lead Technician

Aubin Kwon

Aubin Kwon (he/they) is the Lead Technician at 221A. Their role primarily supports the operation of mixed-use cultural facilities across a portfolio of four properties, as well as contributing to the fabrication and installation processes for the Organization’s artistic programs. Kwon divides his time painting, cooking, reading funny tweets, watching sitcoms, and making drinks for friends. He holds a Bachelor of Science from University of Calgary, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver. Along with Christian Vistan, Kwon leads dreams comma delta in Ladner, British Columbia.

Jastej Luddu, Communications & Story Producer

Jastej Luddu (he/him) is the Communications and Story Producer for 221A. He previously worked as an Associate Editor and Head of Archival Engagement at The Capilano Review. He holds a master’s degree in Social and Political Thought from York University, and his research interests include racism, colonialism, violence, and environmental history. He has previously written for the Oecologies Blog and briarpatch magazine.

Kenji Maeda, Project Director, SEARA

Kenji’s (he/him) experiences are diverse and grounded in his passion for the arts, education, and building community, and influenced by his Uchinanchu heritage. Based on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, he is the Executive Director of the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance and an arts and culture consultant. Kenji currently sits on the board of Mass Culture, a national organization where research and the cultural sector intersect, and an alum of the Banff Centre’s Cultural Leadership Program. He loves spreadsheets, chewy chocolate chip cookies, and his husband, Alan.

Sasha Mark, Network Coordinator, SEARA

Sasha Mark (he/him/they/them) is a Cree/Métis individual and the Sector Equity for Anti-Racism in the Arts (SEARA) Network Coordinator for 221A. He is an accomplished stand-up comedian, having done shows with 604 Records, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, and Just For Laughs Vancouver. He is best known for his time as a comedian panelist for APTN. They also work as a teacher, teaching stand-up comedy workshops through Blind Tiger Comedy.

Sasha studied English and Theatre at the University of Winnipeg. They have been in the non-profit sector for over a decade and are driven by connecting communities together. He has worn many hats, working in roles as a child care worker, foster parent, education coordinator, volunteer coordinator, reconciliation/decolonization committee member, comedy teacher, storyteller, and writer.

Madison Mayhew, Administrator

Madison Mayhew (she/her) is the Administrator at 221A. She is a writer, musician, and cultural worker interested in the environmental and economic specificities of the Pacific Northwest coast, working within Marxist understandings of aesthetic production, urban/rural space, and history. She is currently based on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaɬ Nations, where she sits on the Board of Directors at Unit/Pitt Society and the Toast Collective. She holds a MA in Comparative Media Arts from SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts (2021) and a BFA in Critical and Cultural Practice from Emily Carr University (2017).

Jesse McKee, Head of Strategy

Jesse McKee (b.1984) is a leader in the Culture Industries, a Curator of Contemporary Art and Design, and he is the Head of Strategy at 221A. From 2019-24, McKee is the lead investigator on 221A’s Blockchains & Cultural Padlocks Digital Strategy, which is developing a digitally cooperative culture by “recommoning” land, data and objects. Previously, he was the Curator of The Banff Centre (2011-15), and has worked with leading cultural organizations such as Western Front, Vancouver; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; The Independent Studio & Curatorial Program, New York; The Barbican Centre, London; Things that can happen, Hong Kong and, Romania. In 2017, he was the curator of Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures, the inaugural edition of a civic triennial exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. McKee has served as a juror for the Sobey Art Award, and was a member of the Canada Council for the Art’s Asia Pacific Delegation. Read more

Tosan Omatsola, Project Director, BCA

Tosan Omatsola (he/him) is a business expert with experience in social enterprise, government, financing, and infrastructure. Prior to returning to Canada, he was most recently the project lead for a large-scale residential construction development in Lagos, Nigeria. Previously, Tosan has led entrepreneurship cohorts at Simon Fraser University’s Radius Labs. He is a Nigerian and Canadian citizen, and has a passion for tackling and convening complex systems, while promoting human societal advancement through socioeconomically sustainable ventures and solutions. Tosan has degrees in Geological Engineering (BSc) and Geology (MSC) and a Global Executive MBA from IE Business School, Madrid.

Luca Seccafien, Head of Advancement

Luca Cara Seccafien has worked in fundraising, operations, and production capacities in the arts for 12 years, mainly existing on the stolen ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ people as well as Treaty 6: ancestral territories and homelands of Métis, Dene Suliné, Nehiyaw (Cree), Nakota Sioux, and Anishinaabe (Saulteaux) and Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) people. Luca employs a relationship-centered approach to fundraising and development, and believes that long-term mutual beneficial relationships in service of resource sharing, mutual aid, and wealth redistribution could lead to systemic and cultural change.

They’ve had the honour of mentoring under or working alongside veteran artists and activists at equity-based and community arts organizations including: Powell Street Festival, Pride in Art, Gallery Gachet, Heart of the City Festival, The Works Art & Design Festival, and more. Luca co-founded a collectively operated community art space called WePress, where they strived towards bringing barrier-free print-based art activities to communities that lack meaningful access to technical art forms due to systemic oppression. Read more

jaz whitford, Community Outreach & Program Developer

jaz is a mixed secwe̓pemc & scottish interdisciplinary artist who embodies anti-professionalism & anti-colonialism as a way to move toward a future where indigenous knowledge and ways of being are not only respected but valued & revered. using a range of materials, forms and mediums they work to investigate and express their lived experience and understanding of spirituality, resistance, ancestral connections, and community care.

jaz’s ancestry ties them to cstálen “adams lake” in unceded secwepemcúl’ecw in the southern interior of so-called “british columbia” where they had the privilege of being raised close with the lands and waters within their territories & beyond, and it informs their work expansively.

living predominantly on the west coast since 2017, the bulk of their work has bloomed within the traditional territories of the Skwxwú7mesh, Səl̓ílwətaʔ, xʷməθkwəy̓əm, and Stó:lō where they have been overwhelmed with the warmheartedness, & generosity of the host nations and allied communities

Stephan Wright, Head of Facilities & Production

Stephan Wright (he/him) is the Head of Facilities & Production at 221A. Wright graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University and has previously worked for over 10 years in technical roles in both the construction and non-profit arts sectors. Wright is the primary technical expert at 221A and is responsible for management of the organization’s technical needs, including the on-site safety of 221A’s buildings. Wright works with third party contractors, including engineers and architects, builders and fabricators.

Sungpil Yoon, Spaces Coordinator

Sungpil Yoon is the Spaces Coordinator at 221A. He has been in the non profit arts sector for over 10 years. His role at 221A involves the onsite community and tenancy relationships for 222 E Georgia Street, 236 E Pender Street and 1654 Franklin Street. As a material practice, Yoon is interested in making photographic documentation through still and moving images pertaining to analog, film and other gradual processes. He has completed his BA in Art History at UBC.