Cat MacKeigan, PhD

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Cat MacKeigan is active behind the scenes in the arts and cultural sector and the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Nova Scotia. With over 15 years of experience working within and reporting on cultural policy, government-cultural relations, and innovations in economic development through the arts, Cat brings a novel perspective and queer voice to conversations around arts management, public policy, and institutional relations. Their cultural research and management practice bridges the gap between artistic practice and public policy interest. 

Cat regularly leads and collaborates on various research projects under the umbrellas of cultural, economic, and community development. These projects include strategic planning, program evaluation, governance reorganization, grants preparation, human resources management, communication plans, organizational review, change management, and economic impact analysis. Cat also works as an arts manager, teaches courses in technical theatre, cultural policy, and government policy towards business, and keeps active in their artistic practice through production management, technical theatre, live-streaming, and producing within the performing arts. Their practical experience in the arts is directly linked to their drive for capacity building in the cultural sector and across the Queer community through values-sharing, mutual understanding, and a shared experience base with other individuals.

Cat has multiple degrees including a Bachelor of Arts (honors) in Theatre (Bishop’s University, 2005), a Master of Public Administration (Dalhousie University, 2008), and an Interdisciplinary PhD with a focus on cultural policy (Dalhousie University, 2020). They have presented their research at regional, national, and international conferences. Select notable conference invitations include the BIA Conference in Campus Künzelsau, Germany (2019), the Creative City Conference in Halifax, NS (2017), TILT City in Vancouver, BC (2015), and Metropolis (2011) in Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal.

In their interdisciplinary doctoral study at Dalhousie University, Cat opened the field of public administration to investigate the institutional and organizational structures of arts support provided by the Nova Scotia Government and associated cross-sector relationships. They introduced a critical analysis of public policy administration and the consequences of this organization for how professional artists know and do their work. Through this institutional ethnographic research, Cat uncovered and examined policy consequences that contribute to an administrative skills deficit within the professional arts sector, high levels of burnout across arts administrators, and challenges experienced by artists, cultural organizations, and governing agencies when reporting on policy outcomes. Cat also identified policy and programming recommendations to effectively address these challenges that meet both the sector and the department’s interest.

Colleen MacIsaac (they/them)

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Colleen is a multi-disciplinary freelance artist based in Kjipuktuk/Halifax. Former Managing Director of 2b theatre company and Chair of the Board of the Bus Stop Theatre Co-op, Colleen is the current Artistic Producer of the Villains Theatre. Winner of the Bhayana Invisible Champion Award and the Halifax Mayor’s Award for Emerging Theatre Artist, Colleen’s work in comics has been nominated for national awards, their short animated films have featured in festivals on four continents, and they have worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for over a decade. A graduate of Emily Carr University, Colleen’s training in theatre has largely been acquired through trying things, making mistakes, and attempting to learn from those mistakes. 

Jess Smith

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Jess Smith is a non-binary person (identifying as genderqueer), they work as a legal coordinator in a large media company’s corporate office. They also assist small businesses, non-profits, and entertainers as a content creator to help their clients’ present their best selves online. In 2018, they began doing drag as Pat McCox, whose charming personality and slick style has won the titles of Mr. Fall Fest, Mx. Queer Halifax and 2019 Performance of the Year. They have previously set on the boards of both Halifax Pride and Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project. Jess currently sits on the board of Fierté Canada Pride as Atlantic Regional Director and acted as lead of the Governance Committee while the organization underwent a governance and policy restructure.

You can find them on social media platforms as @JessHFX.

Carol Dobson

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Carol Dobson has been an independent communications consultant for the past 27  years  She has worked on a number of significant public events including the Halifax-Dartmouth Canada Day Committee (18 years), building it to the largest July 1 celebration east of Ottawa. Other significant events she has guided include the 50th Anniversary of VE Day, the Halifax Garden Festival, Yorkshire 2000, and three International Gatherings of the Clans in Nova Scotia.  

She has also served as the PR advisor for Flamenco En Rouge, the Zonta Club of Halifax, and the Federation for Scottish Culture in Nova Scotia.  Carol spent 26 years as a contract writer for the Saltwire Network, with at least 10,000 articles published during this time.  As a storyteller, Carol has worked with a number of local tour companies writing and providing guided tours throughout the Atlantic Provinces.  With the COVID crisis, this important sector of the tourism industry has been crippled so Carol has been using her background in media and government relations to bring the issues faced by the ‘people movers’, including attracting the interest of the Financial Times of London.

Carol is a strategic thinker and problem solver who loves the challenge of helping organizations succeed.

Lorraine Albert

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Lorraine Albert is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, designer and freelancer whose work is rooted in conceptual ideation & problem-solving, specializing in brainstorming, branding and corporate identities. She is an attentive listener who has a knack for “pulling threads,” linking ideas, and making connections. Lorraine has a diploma in Graphic Design from Dawson College, a Bachelor of Fine Art from Concordia University and a Masters of Fine Art from NSCAD University. She has worked as a designer in Brisbane, AUS, as well as Vancouver, Montréal, and Halifax. 

Lorraine has been a panelist at the International Council of Fine Arts Deans (ICFAD) conference in Halifax and presented a paper on alternative art pedagogies at the Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC) conference in Banff, AB. She has co-facilitated a round-table addressing Land & Treaties at UAAC in Waterloo, ON. Lorraine has been a scholar at the Centre for Art Tapes (Halifax), and most recently participated in the Plug-In Institute of Contemporary Art Summer Session on Indigenous Architecture in Winnipeg, MB. Her work has appeared in festivals, venues, galleries, and at various sites in Canada and Australia, including “Steps Forward,” a permanent public art installation on the Skyline Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. 

With a unique perspective in art and design, Lorraine has established herself in Halifax as a freelance Media Manager & Designer, working with local businesses and universities. She is currently a Social Media Coordinator & Design Researcher at Fathom Studio in Dartmouth, NS. 


Krista Tannahill

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Krista Tannahill is a social media and online marketing expert with a focus on helping artists, non-profits and entrepreneurs shine online. Whether you need support with your social media, online advertising or are just looking for new ways to be found online, Krista can help! 

I work with clients who want improve their online visibility. Whether you are looking for social media management support, Google My Business help, or online advertising services – I am here to help you.

Sarah Santos

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Sarah Santos is a marketing and communications professional with more than 15 years of experience helping organizations to achieve their goals and build a strong relationship with its costumers. Events, strategic planning, sponsorship and marketing are her specialties.

Sarah has worked for some of the most prestigious art organizations in her country, as the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra and the Modern Art Museum of Rio de Janeiro, helping to build their marketing, communication and sponsorship strategies. She also worked for O Globo, one of the main newspapers in South America, as responsible for the selection of cultural projects supported by the company, and for creating brand and sponsorship activation strategy.

Passionate for all forms of art, and recently moved to Nova Scotia, Sarah is willing to help local art organizations to build their communication, marketing and sponsorship strategies.

Krista Keough

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Krista Keough is a multi-talented, multi-faceted contributor to the creative industries. As a marketing and communications professional, she collaborates with artists, entrepreneurs, non-profits, and for-profit organizations to deliver compelling content that connects with their audiences. Over the past decade of her professional career, she has worked as an artist manager and publicist, on film and television productions, and as an advertising executive, fundraiser, writer, and teacher.

A longtime member of the music industry, Krista spent five years at the venerable artist management company Jones & Co. working with their core roster of east coast talent. The skills she honed transferred well to independent contracts for artist and business development, strategic planning, grant writing, and marketing projects. Krista is the past artist manager of best-selling pop star Ria Mae and multiple ECMA award-winners In-Flight Safety, and she was the festival manager for the 2018 Halifax Jazz Festival.

Krista has worked in and out of the film industry for as long as she’s been involved with music, primarily with casting agent Erin Hennessey. As a faculty member at NSCC Ivany campus for six years, Krista taught multiple courses in the School of IT & Creative Industries and the School of Business.

Karen Gross

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Arts BAckground

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Based in K’jipuktuk, Karen Gross works as a theatre producer. She is the Creative Producer for the Accidental Mechanics Group (Let’s Not Beat Each Other To Death, The Unfamiliar Everything) and serves as chair of the board of Eastern Front Theatre. Karen has previously worked with 2b theatre company, Keep Good (Theatre) Company, Zuppa Theatre Co., Live Art Dance, Strategic Arts Management, and the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. 

Karen has experience writing grant applications at the municipal, provincial, and federal level. She has assembled proposals for small and mid-sized organizations as well as individual artists; with experience writing operating grants, project grants, travel grants, touring grants, professional development grants, and more. She has taught grant writing and budgeting workshops (StART Festival, 2b theatre company, and the Halifax Fringe) and has also served as a peer juror. She aims to help make arts funding more accessible.

Margot Aldrich

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Margot Aldrich has been a professional violist for 25 years, 17 of them in Nova Scotia.  She has been a member of Symphony Nova Scotia and The Blue Engine String Quartet and has also been featured in many Nova Scotian artists’ recordings including Sanctuary, MIR, Mary Jane Lamond, Gordie Sampson, Suzie LeBlanc and others.   She has also had a private teaching studio and gives select workshops in the HRSB school system.  Margot has been on the executive board of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra since 2011 and is devoted to this organization for its excellence and commitment to giving young people a deep musical education. 

Before arriving in Nova Scotia in 1996, Margot lived and worked in Montreal dividing her time between l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal (including 6 international tours and several recordings), l’Orchestre des Grand Ballets de Montreal (including 300 performances of The Nutcracker), l’Opera de Montreal, the McGill Chamber Orchestra and Les Boreades de Montreal Baroque Ensemble.   She also played with Le Quatuor Claudel, giving hundreds of performances and recording works by Prokofiev and Dvorak. Margot’s training was received at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, UK and she later received a Concours Premier Prix at Le Conservatoire de Quebec a Montreal. 

In 1992 Margot had the first of her three children and as such has experience as an early childhood educator, events coordinator, domestic, culinary and financial manager, negotiator and conflict mediator as well as care giver. In 2010 Margot started her own business as a professional Realtor and currently runs every aspect of the business from office management, computer program skills, document management, project coordinator, client management, crisis management, negotiation and consultant on myriad subjects pertaining to Real Estate. 

Margot has acted as spokesperson on local media for both Arts and Real Estate issues. 

In her infrequent spare time, Margot enjoys creative writing, sewing and Ukranian egg decorating.