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.
- Access as an ongoing practice
- Accountable to community and neighbours
- Anti-disposability (no start and no end)
- 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
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.
Board of Directors
Virginia Hong, Chair, 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
Krystal Paraboo, Vice-Chair, 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
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, Chair of People & Culture Committee, 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
Neeta Soni, Chair of Advancement & Programs 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
Ingrid Valou, Board of Directors
Ingrid is the Manager of Economic Development at the Downtown Vancouver BIA (“Downtown Van”). She backs her commitment to creating supportive, vibrant spaces for artists in Vancouver with a decade of experience in writing, public relations, issues management, project management, media relations, non-profit governance and economic development. Ingrid has built her community involvement and professional career around the success of values-aligned projects and organizations advancing the success of circular economic design, economic transformation, intersectionally inclusive economic models, Indigenous economic prosperity, journalism, and industrial-zoned businesses in Vancouver. She has delivered award-winning campaigns recognized by the CPRS and STORYHIVE.
In her previous role as Manager of Communications and Media Relations at the Vancouver Economic Commission, Ingrid served for many years as its primary media contact and led its editorial team. She held the pen as lead writer and editor of many of its signature reports, including the regular Vancouver Economy Report. She has been president of the Vancouver Metal Arts Association since 2019, bringing her experience in economic development and studio management to deliver projects envisioning and creating net-new accessible metal studio spaces in Vancouver.
Ingrid runs an eponymous small-scale fine jewellery and custom design brand in Chinatown. Her modest studio is a creative lab devoted to the responsible metalsmithing movement, in which she explores, develops and collates resources for local jewellery artists. She performs as a singer and on the flute and bass flute with various groups in the local music scene and has been credited on a dozen albums across genres spanning indie folk, indie rock, progressive rock, world fusion, and video game music.
Rawan Hassan, Board of Directors
Rawan Hassan is a multidisciplinary designer who has worked with materials from wood to food. She has a passion for creating sentimentality with-in everyday objects, and bringing a social awareness into our consumer habits. She is a creative who enjoys experimenting and trying new things. Rawan is a graduate of Emily Carr’s Industrial Design program, and a tenant of 221A’s studios.
Reiko Pleau, Board of Directors
Reiko Pleau (she/they) is a mixed race Japanese Canadian settler residing in the unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. She is currently pursuing archival studies at the UBC School of Information, unceded xwməθkwəy̓ əm (Musqueam) territories. They are interested in learning about and applying innovative technologies for digital asset management, data analytics, and information system design. Reiko also holds a BFA in Art History and Studio Arts from Concordia University, unceded Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) territories. Their creative practice is interdisciplinary, combining drawing, painting, installation, research, writing, and performance.
Tamara Goddard, Board of Directors
Tamara Goddard, from the respected Saulteau Nation, passionately believes that everyone deserves access to clean water, safe housing, and reliable power. Inspired by a vision at 19, Tamara pursued education and research focused on a new economic model based on natural law and nature’s growth patterns. As the driving force behind Four Our Future, Tamara led multiple national papers highlighting blockchain and web3 technology’s potential to create fair wealth and resource distribution. She also developed 400 Drums, a project showcasing web3 technology’s power to break down socio-economic barriers. A proud graduate of Simon Fraser University, Tamara earned her MBA in Indigenous Leadership and Business. She has carried out extensive research to create and implement economic strategies, financial tools, and partnerships between First Nations, Indigenous organizations, Crown Corporations, Government, and Industry. 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, x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓《新生林》Artist
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, x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓《新生林》Artist
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 multidisciplinary cultural worker with over 15 years of experience as a producer, non-profit director, researcher and writer. Tao is currently Producer, Strategic Initiatives at 221A where she advances the research and development goals of the organization, with a focus on decentralized technologies and polycentric governance and ownership models in art and public sector contexts. Prior to joining 221A she was Executive Producer of the POP Montreal International Music Festival, where she led the expansion of visual art, film, symposium and community engagement verticals alongside the festival’s core music programming. Recent residencies, cohorts and fellowships include the Banff Centre for the Arts, Saas-Fee Institute of Art, The New Centre for Research & Practice, and KERNEL. She is a founding Board member of 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 符之欣, Head of Admin & Finance
Michelle Fu 符之欣 is Head of Admin & Finance and co-founder of 221A, where she has been an integral voice in steering 221A’s path from a student-led collective to the multi-faceted cultural organization it is today. She is a collaborative and inclusive worker who is committed to ensuring the founding values of collective care and resource-sharing continue to guide 221A’s policies and operations. Fu applies her training in environmental design, construction, and art making alongside her experience in non-profit administration and finance to meet the complex needs of the organization.
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, x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓《新生林》Artist
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”.
Kwiigay iiwaans, Head of Programs
Kwiigay iiwans is the Head of Programs at 221A. Kwiigay initiates and guides programming at x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓ New Growth《新生林》and across multiple sites that 221A manages. They collaboratively lead the organizations artistic vision, and, as part of the management team, are integral in shaping the future of 221A.
Kwiigay iiwaans is a queer disabled multidisciplinary artist from the Haida, Squamish, and Musqueam nations. They explore decolonial 2SQTIBIPOC futurisms through mediums of electronic music, illustration, formline design, beadwork, and animation. They are a committed language learner of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim and X̱aad kíl, the Squamish and Haida languages. They live and work in X̱epx̱ápay̓ay, Vancouver, BC.
Aubin Kwon, Lead Technician
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, Programmer, Story & Collection
Jastej Luddu (he/him) is the Programmer, Story & Collection at 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 settler-colonialism, mulitculturalism, structures of racist violence, and environmental history. He has previously written for the Oecologies blog, briarpatch magazine, and New Proposals.
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 Tranzit.org, 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
Carmut Me 米家宓, Head of Cultural Spaces R&D
Carmut Me 米家宓 provides consulting services to the arts, culture and heritage sector in community engagement, cultural planning, policy development, collaborative research, programming as well as operations. Carmut holds a masters degree in Planning from the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC. She has worked at the City of Vancouver’s Cultural Infrastructure Team, facilitating the development of the 2018 Making Space for Arts and Culture: Cultural Infrastructure Plan. From 2017-2020, she worked as Community Engagement Coordinator and later Operations Manager at BCA Sun Wah, a community cultural hub in Vancouver’s Historic Chinatown where she developed and implemented operations systems and policies, managed tenant relations and the day to day operations of the facility. She currently serves on the council-appointed Vancouver Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group as co-chair of the Culture and Heritage working group to guide community actions and provide advice on the development of a Cultural Heritage Asset Management Plan (CHAMP). Carmut resides on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ /Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Samantha Nock, Equity Advisor
Samantha Nock is an âpihtaw’kos’ân (Cree-Metis) writer, beadworker, community organizer, educator, and Indigenous consultant from Treaty 8 territory in Northeast BC, the ancestral territories of the Dunne-za, Cree, and Saulteaux peoples. Her family comes from Ile-a-la-Crosse (Sakitawak), SK. She is passionate about creating communities and connections based on reciprocity, care, and respect. Her work is rooted in her experiences as an Indigenous woman, and is centered within a decolonial and anti-oppressive framework. Samantha has experience in youth work, arts education, project management, web development, database management, communications, facilitation, customer service, and grassroots community organizing. She is people oriented and has a passion for providing help and care. Samantha is a writer and beadwork artist with a deep love of coffee and spending lazy weekends with her two cats, Betty and Jughead. A Family of Dreamers, her debut book of poetry published by Talonbooks, comes in fall 2023.
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, x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓《新生林》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.