Skipped a session of ARTPRENEUR 2020? Passed on the conference altogether? Catch up on everything you missed with the new ARTPRENEUR Ottawa podcast! Click the button to listen now!

ARTPRENEUR Ottawa 2020 is a multi-day conference presented by Arts Network Ottawa in partnership with Wallack’s, Invest Ottawa, and SHIFTER Agency. It brings together leading local and national creative experts and business leaders to assist artists in building their creative professions. The conference will be held online as a series of webinars and presentations.  

With COVID-19 grinding the gig economy to a halt, Artpreneur will address the economic, social and cultural disruption on the arts sector in Ottawa and beyond. The Conference aims to deliver a valuable experience for delegates, with opportunities for rich conversations and connections in an open, welcoming environment with a wide array of speakers and panelists. 

Speakers will address what recovery means to them as artists and organizations of all disciplines aim to restore or innovate the sector through the initiative, adaptations and the lenses of equity, sustainability, technology and collaboration.  

NEW THIS YEAR! Artpreneur will be offered live online to make attending safe, economical and accessible. Sessions will feature English closed-captioning and PWYC pricing.  

SPONSORSHIP is available to help offset our Pay-What-You-Choose option for attendees. It’s a wonderful way to show your support of the cultural sector and to align your marketing with Artpreneur. Check out our Sponsorship Package here.

Dance, Movement, and Stillness in Your Arts Practice

11 AM | Panel: Allison Burns, Laura Taler and Mary Catherine Jack

A conversation between multidisciplinary artists about dance and it’s relationship with the broader arts ecosystem. The ways we consume and create art are changing and opening up opportunities for alternative collaborations and approaches to working. An invitation to artists of all disciplines to feel empowered to work with dance, movement, and stillness in their creative process.

Beyond Value Chains and Supply Chains: the future of the labour of artists

1 PM | Zainub Verjee

Today we are witnessing the limitations of an entrepreneurial state driven by the neoliberal logics. The three crises that we are enduring—public health, social and economic—have shone a light on the paradox of labour and embedded reality of artists. In testing times such as these and to envisage a path forward we need to understand where we are now and how did we get to the present crisis? How did the systemic evolution of the cultural labour market premised on the introduction of competition saw the subsequent transformation of artists into cultural entrepreneurs?

This keynote will highlight the political economy of the labour of artists and explore the options as to whether we go for a reset or reinvent a new way forward.

From Idea to Inception: A Strategy for Surviving and Thriving as an Arts Collective and Label

2:30 PM | Jordan David and Peter Albert from Music.Art.People

This presentation will dive into how Music.Art.Ppl started as an idea among friends who wanted to create space for a different perspective on how events were presented in Ottawa. Examining the steps MAP took as a collective to be bold and push boundaries with events while maintaining the vision of being inclusive and representing the community they serve. Embracing change with open arms and how MAP decided to use COVID-19 as a springboard and pivoting point to reinvest in the Ottawa creative community with the launch of a music / poetry label. We will also hear from a special guest on their experience as a creator in Ottawa and some of the challenges independent artists face in our creative community.


Zainub Verjee


Zainub Verjee is the laureate of 2020 Governor General’s Visual and Media Arts for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Canada. She is currently involved in the national campaign on Basic Income and is the co-author of the public letter to the Prime Minister of Canada on Basic Income Guarantee.#artists4basicincome  

An artist, critic, a writer, a keynote speaker, arts administrator with expertise in cultural policy and cultural diplomacy, over four decades she has contributed to international and national policies and legislation pertaining to the culture sector including the international instruments like the Status of the Artists and Cultural Diversity. She continues to work on issues of Artist Labour, Artist Income, Racial Equity, Cultural Planning, Intellectual Property, Digital Ecosystems of Art, Cultural Institutions, Cultural Diplomacy and Culture Trade.  Former Executive Director of the Western Front, her work on the British Columbia Arts Board led to the formation of British Columbia Arts Council, as well as she has contributed to the formation of many other institutions. An active member of civil society, she was the Vancouver Moderator of the Spicer Commission – The Citizen’s Forum on Canada’s Future. Currently, she is the executive director of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries in Toronto.

Allison Elizabeth Burns


Allison is a compassionate performing arts professional with a strong commitment to public engagement in dance. Allison is a choreographer, performer, educator, and producer based in her hometown of Ottawa. She is recognized for the ability to create digestible dialogue about dance, and a welcoming atmosphere for audience members. As a passionate dance advocate, she promotes dance awareness and comprehension through workshops, talks, and podcasts. She founded, produced and hosted the dance podcast, Dirty Feet, conducting and archiving hundreds of interviews with dance artists around the world. Allison self-produces evocative contemporary dance and produces showcases that celebrate the work of local dance artists featuring a variety styles. Allison has choreographed and performed in multidisciplinary projects, dance works, and commissions. Recent creations involve polarizing groups, feminist issues, immortal hedonists, and time travel. Her work has been presented at various festivals including the Alberta Dance Festival, dance: made in canada, and Uproar Arts Festival.

Laura Taler


Romanian-born Canadian artist Laura Taler began her career as a contemporary dance choreographer before turning her attention to filmmaking and visual art. Throughout her career Taler has explored the links between movement, voice, memory, and history by using cinematic and choreographic devices to articulate how the body is able to carry the past without being oppressed by it. Her work has been praised for its unique combination of emotional resonance, wit, and striking visuals. She has been a resident at the Banff Center for the Arts, Centro Cultural Recoleta (Buenos Aires), Carleton Immersive Media Studio (Ottawa) and a fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (Berlin). Her work has been featured in theatres, galleries, festivals, special screenings and broadcast internationally. She is currently artist-in-residence at the Ottawa Dance Directive and the most recent recipient of Galerie SAW Gallery’s Dennis Tourbin Prize for New Performance. 

Peter Albert


Peter Albert is a DJ, entrepreneur and community leader. His business education along with his passion for music, collaborating and bringing people together through unique experiences has been the fuel that motivated him to start hosting events 10 years ago.  He co-created the collective Music.Art.Ppl because he believes that each person can be a beacon for their community contributing with their creativity, skills and knowledge. Through curated events, Music.Art.Ppl offers artists of all backgrounds – from visual arts to performance and music – a safe and inclusive space to express themselves and share their work with their community. In everything he does, Peter’s focus is on conscious contribution and empowerment. The launch of Music.Art.Ppl’s new label has given Peter and the rest of the team the opportunity to give artists the spotlight.



Music.Art.Ppl is about encouraging artists to share and collaborate with each other. Providing a space where artists from different backgrounds can come together and create a special experience in a safe environment. Music.Art.Ppls efforts are equally focused on curating a unique musical and visual experience. Programming each event with a diverse musical selection with elements of live art in it’s many forms. Most recently, MAP launched a music and poetry label to help empower local artists. MAP collective are open to collaborating and encourage people to reach out online via social media @musicartppl or by email. Music.Art.Ppl is also available for hire to provide music, deco, live painting, lighting, visual projection services.

Jordan David


Jordan David is an Ottawa based Producer/DJ/Curator and event organizer who has been making a name for himself in the local scene. Co-founder of music and arts collective and label, Music.Art.Ppl. Jordan’s event history is broad, having worked and collaborated with organizations such as the National Arts Centre, Ottawa Art Gallery, RBC Bluesfest, TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, CKCU FM, Ottawa Children’s Festival and House of Paint Urban Arts Festival. Jordan David is currently working in community radio and is the talent buyer and stage manager of Ottawa music venue and social hub, Queen St. Fare. 

Mary Catherine Jack


Mary Catherine Jack is an Ottawa based independent dance artist. She divides her career between, teaching, performing and creating. School residencies, coaching professional and preprofessional dancers, and leading various forms of movement classes for adults make up the bulk of her teaching work. Mary Catherine has had the pleasure of working with various Ottawa based artists and has performed as part of The Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, The Canada Dance Festival, Dark Horse Dance Projects, and The Ottawa Dance Directive. Mary Catherine is constantly exploring the corners of her imagination and finds inspiration readily and often in nature, in art, in music and in the community she surrounds herself with. She continues to train, explore and learn, so that she may motivate and engage others. Things that are important to Mary Catherine: strength, connection and curiosity. 

Real House of Ensemble

3 PM | City Fidelia

Born an Ottawa native, City Fidelia is a soulful street poet, rapper, singer and songwriter. He launched Real House of Ensemble, a creative agency and arts resource hub, during the pandemic in July 2020 filling a resource gap for local creatives – with big goals for the future.  This discussion will provide an overview about how businesses can continue to dedicate resources towards economic growth and innovations within the hip hop community, which deservemore recognition for sustainable contributions to the music industry and arts sector, locally and beyond Entrepreneurship, multimedia, music, fashion, and self-sufficiency will be addressed by an artist with experience living and working in Ottawa and Toronto, and touring world-wide. 

Theory Meets Action: Queer Hustle as a Form of Praxis

5:30 PM | Maren Kathleen Elliott and Juan Saavedra

Queer creative duo Maren K Elliott and Juan Saavedra met in Ottawa in 2019 and bonded over being new to the city and their shared desire to make and share artistic experiences. Since then the team has continued on to produce a series of projects (workshop, panel and pop-up shows) tackling social issues ranging from mental health, body image and sexuality, to LGBTQ inclusion and queer activism. Their latest project, ‘Concrete Cleavage’ was a pop-up art and design poster show featuring the work of artists from across Canada that took place in outdoor locations in Ottawa, Toronto, and online. Concrete Cleavage was not just shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was born of it.  From the concept of this show, to its execution (for example, centralization of printing, taking place in outdoor and virtual spaces), Concrete Cleavage is a case study in flexibility, risk taking, and relationship-building.  

Artists and entrepreneurs alike practice examining the world from a non-traditional perspective to seek opportunities in adversity. Yet there is sometimes a stigma from within the creative community around the term ‘entrepreneurship’, a fear of seeming too capitalist, colonial, or selling out. Prior to moving to Ottawa, both Juan and Maren had their own businesses. In this presentation they will confront the pejorative understanding of entrepreneurship using their experience applying its lessons to produce community-based arts events, with a lens of queer-disability and a framework grounded in equity. 

Co-presented by:


City Fidelia


Born an Ottawa native, City Fidelia is a soulful street poet, rapper, singer and songwriter. Focusing on authentic storytelling through lyrics and rhythm, Fidelia is known for crafting music that reflects his hardships and experiences which deeply resonates with others. Committed to being vulnerable and truthful in his music, Fidelia aims to inspire others to overcome difficult situations and pursue their dreams freely. Having performed at sold-out shows in North America, Asia, and Europe, Fidelia often considers himself a global citizen. He has previously collaborated with artists like Malik Yusef of G.O.O.D Music, Timbaland, Showtek, and Eva Shaw, and been selected as the opening artist for musicians such as French Montana, A$AP Rocky, Mac Miller, and Action Bronson. Fidelia has also been invited to perform at Bluesfest, Manifesto, Under Pressure, Megaphono, and E.L.E fest. Fidelia also spearheads Ensemble, a lifestyle movement of which the core belief is to unite individuals through forms of art: experiences, music, and fashion. With so many exciting ideas and so much music lined up, Fidelia is ready to stick his head out and establish his name in the industry in his own inimitable way.

Maren Kathleen Elliott


Maren Kathleen Elliott is an interdisciplinary creative who splits her time between Edmonton AB and Ottawa ON. Her modalities include illustration, mixed media, movement and music. Maren is passionate about arts accessibility, storytelling, mental health advocacy, and community activation.

Juan Saavedra


Juan Saavedra is a Toronto-based design researcher specializing in health literacy, education and social policy. He holds a Master of Design in Industrial Design from Carleton University. He is an advocate for introducing Sex and Gender-based Analysis into design education and health research.

As a team, Maren & Juan have collaborated on a number of projects including pop-up art exhibits and presentations, often highlighting LGBTQ+ creative voices and exploring creatively-inclined queer activism.

Portfolio careers: How artists build and sustain their practice, and what a pandemic means for these multifaceted professionals

2 PM | Panel: Jacqui Du Toit, Sarah Hopkin, and Claudia Gutierrez. Facilitated by Jenna Richards 

What does it mean to be an “artist”, “dancer”, “musician”, “writer”, etc…? The arts industry offers many career options for the emerging professional, but there are no set paths, especially in this time of pandemic. How do we build a career that will sustain us, artistically and financially? How has COVID-19 affected this delicate balance? Jenna Richards leads a panel discussion with Jacqui Du Toit, Sarah Hopkin, and Claudia Gutierrez about arts entrepreneurship, identity, and portfolio careers.

Counting the Cost of COVID-19 | Understanding the Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Ottawa-Gatineau Artists & Cultural Workers

PM | Panel: Nik Ives-Allison, Marisa Gallemit

In this session Nik Ives-Allison (City of Ottawa) and Marisa Gallemit (Ottawa Arts Council) will present key findings from Counting the Cost of COVID-19. This joint project of the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Arts Council looks at the economic costs of the pandemic faced by those working in the arts, culture & heritage and the businesses, non-profit organizations and institutions that support them. 

In this presentation, we’ll be focusing on the impact of the pandemic on artists & cultural workers including solopreneurs and freelancers. While the income & job losses experienced in the sector have been staggering, there have also been some glimmers of hope with the launch of new businesses, supports and ways of working. 

Are you an artist, cultural worker, business owner or the manager of a non-profit/cultural institution who would like to participate in this research? Please contact Marisa Gallemit ( to schedule an interview or participate in a focus group.

Community Conversation: How to Make This Sustainable

7 PM | Speaker: Kseniya Tsoy

Earlier in April, folks gathered for a community conversation about the work, challenges, and opportunities of community and socially engaged arts through the pandemic. Fast-forward to 8 months later: We now know a lot more about the impacts of COVID-19 on Ottawa’s cultural sector as well as the communities we collaborate with and serve. Artists, cultural workers, and community organizers continue to work very hard to adapt in the ways they can. And the vital role art plays to connect people and communities through this period of crisis is made clear via projects creatively happening in and around public health guidelines. But how can this work be made sustainable? What are our sector’s needs over the coming year?

Join us for a community conversation and brainstorm framed by artist Kseniya Tsoy’s experience through her most recent Neighbourhood Arts Ottawa project as well as knowledge shared throughout this year’s Artpreneur conference.

Co-presented by:


Jacqui Du Toit


Jacqui Du Toit is an award-winning, internationally celebrated theatrical and movement storyteller from Kimberley, South Africa. Since graduating from the University of Cape Town with a BA in Theatre and Performance in 2005, Jacqui has worked extensively as a professional actress, dancer, and storyteller for over a decade.  

Jacqui was awarded the 2019 Prix Rideau Award for Outstanding Female Performance in Drowning Girls and received an Outstanding Female Performance nomination for her role in Omnibus Bill at the 2019 Prix Rideau Awards. She wrote, performed, and produced The Hottentot Venus – Untold, a monodrama nominated for best actress at the 2017 Rideaux Awards and the Capital Critics Awards. Jacqui was featured in Creatorland, a 2018 documentary series following the lives of celebrated creators, inventors, and entrepreneurs. In the autumn of 2020, Jacqui was directed by award-winning director Diane Roberts in having narrated the audiobook version of This Book Betrays My Brother (named to Kirkus’ Best Books of 2018; winner of the Ottawa Book Award, English Fiction, 2019), a Young Adult novel written by award-winning writer Kagiso Lesogo Molope 

Jacqui has performed her theatre, dance, and African storytelling across Canada and the world. In 2008, she toured Canada with the African circus troupe Amakhosi, Kings of Africa ______. Recent performance highlights include: Canada Performs, the National Arts Centre; the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Black History Celebration, Parliament of Canada; Westfest; the International Children’s Festival of the Arts; the African Women Diplomatic Forum. 

Jacqui now resides in Ottawa, where she performs as the creative director of her company 8thGeneration Storytelling. She is also the co-owner and co-director of The Origin Arts and Community Centre in the capital city of Canada.

Sarah Hopkin


Sarah Hopkin is a freelance dance artist from Nova Scotia. She is currently dancing for the Ottawa Dance Directive led by artistic director Yvonne Coutts, TAKE UP SPACE led by Elizabeth Emond-Stevenson, and for choreographers Peggy Baker (with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts), Cathy Kyle Fenton (with the support of the City of Ottawa) and Allison Burns. She has danced as a junior company member for Toronto Dance Theatre (2015-2016), an intern for Mocean Dance (2015), and in Dance Ontario’s Dance Weekend (2015). She has worked as a demonstrator for Peggy Baker at Canada’s National Ballet School in the summers of 2016 and 2017, and teaches contemporary dance in the professional ballet division at The School of Dance in Ottawa.  

Sarah has choreographed and performed at Ottawa Chamberfest and in Ottawa’s Dark Horse Dance Projects 2017. Sarah was commissioned by composer Julia Mermelstein to choreograph a solo with the support of the Toronto Arts Council in 2016. Sarah continues her choreographic explorations through her work with the ballet students at The School of Dance, collaborating with composer Pierre-Luc Clément. During the pandemic Sarah has been a part of two creative processes and performances online, as well as teaching contemporary dance classes for The School of Dance via Zoom. She has also partnered with TAKE UP SPACE and the Ottawa Dance Directive to run dance classes outdoors for the professional dance community.

Jenna Richards


Before completing high school, Jenna Richards had earned her ARCT diploma in both piano and violin, studying in her native Halifax. Jenna completed her Bachelor of Music in Performance at the University of Toronto, garnering consecutive Glenn Gould Scholarships, the Fey Hethrington Scholarship, and the Lydia Wong scholarship for excelling in instrumental collaboration as well as nine consecutive Nova Scotia Talent Trust awards. Jenna’s passion for collaborative music has led her to perform at Tuckamore Chamber Music Festival (St. John’s), the Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts (Toronto), Ottawa Chamberfest (Ottawa), Centre d’Arts Orford (Quebec), National Arts Centre (Ottawa), Festival Pontiac Enchanté (Quebec), and for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s “Young People’s Concert Series” among many others. 

Following her performance degree, Jenna completed her Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Carleton to pursue a multifaceted career. She is a collaborative pianist with the Ottawa Classical Choir, Canadian Centennial Choir, and a host of instrumentalists. She is equally an arts administrator, serving on the artistic team of Ottawa Chamberfest to help program over 100 events a year. Completing Jenna’s portfolio career is her life as a researcher, in which she is currently pursuing her PhD in Interdisciplinary Research in Music. In her (little) spare time, Jenna loves to be in nature, learn languages, and play soccer.

Claudia Gutierrez


Claudia Gutierrez is a Latin-Canadian artist living in Ottawa, Canada. Her studies specialized in painting and printmaking, recently informing her exploration of textile work after completing two residencies in Ottawa, Canada and Oaxaca, Mexico. She has been an active advocate and cultural worker for the local arts community for the past decade. By utilizing her training in embroidery, hand dying and printmaking, Gutierrez imbues a sense of methodical mark making, repetitive and meditative contrasting her process which is often reliant on chance and improvisation. Gutierrez’s work explores the shifts in the role and meaning of objects and visual references representing a movement between known and unknown, oddity and banality, dark and light, masculine and feminine until what is left are new forms entirely – forms born by past follies, ritual, communion, heritage, and memories.

Nik Ives-Allison


Nik Ives-Allison is an interdisciplinary researcher and business strategist with a knack for helping cities, organizations and artists solve complex challenges, assess + mitigate risk and supercharge growth using data. Dr. Ives-Allison is currently the Cultural Mapping & Research Officer with the City of Ottawa‘s Cultural Development and Initiatives Unit and co-founder of boutique strategy, research & engagement firm Night Lab. 

Her work with the City of Ottawa is focused on using projection modelling to help the arts, culture and heritage sector in Ottawa-Gatineau understand the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through her role with the City, Nik also serves as the Project Manager for the Ottawa Culture Research Group. 

Nik holds a PhD from the University of St Andrews where she studied gang and paramilitary violence patterns at the prestigious Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism & Political Violence (CSTPV) (2014), co-founded social enterprise record label Matchless Minds (2010-2013) and, most recently, served as the first full-time Executive Director of the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition helping guide the organization through the development and implementation of the first official Ottawa Music Strategy (2017-2019). 

Marisa Gallemit


Marisa Gallemit is an Ottawa-born visual artist and current Research Officer for the Ottawa Arts Council. Informed by womanhood, motherhood, and Filipinx third culture shock, her practice spans sculpture, assemblage, site-specific installation, storytelling, and arts advocacy. Since first exhibiting work in 2009, Marisa has been active with performative works, design installations for music + art festivals and art-making workshops, has curated art programs for several Ottawa venues, and has produced a large-scale public art installation for the City of Mississauga. 

Through an ongoing exploration of found objects and repurposed materials and a commitment to social practice by means of art programming in non-gallery spaces, Gallemit’s work leans deeply into Buckminster Fuller’s query: 

“Now how do we make this spaceship work?” 

Kseniya Tsoy


Kseniya Tsoy is a new Canadian artistic producer and community-engaged artist, originally from Uzbekistan. She specializes in designing shared experiences for the public at the intersection of art, social innovation and play. The core of her socially engaged practice is the emphasis on cross-cultural and inter-generational aspects of programming revolving around creative collaboration.

For almost a decade Kseniya has been working with World Culture Open, a global network of cultural creatives, to design and produce community-engaged programs at local and international levels. After moving to Canada, she shifted her focus to public art and place-making and is now dedicated to bringing communities together through projects that make cities more artistic, vibrant and livable.