The SPARC team currently consists of a Network Coordinator (Rachel Marks), a Northern Outreach Coordinator (Jason Manitowabi) and a dedicated group of volunteers that form the SPARC Board of Directors.

Members of the Board of Directors belong to a number of working groups, three of which were created at the Network Summit in 2014:

Outreach working group: to create a vibrant network for the performing arts in rural and remote communities that is accessible, sustainable, easy to manage and a vital resource. Outreach Working Group – Terms of Reference

Symposium working group: to bring together rural and remote communities, regionally and nationally, to interact, share and collaborate, and to promote community health and wellbeing through the performing arts. (Specifically, to plan and promote the 2016 Symposium with a view to fulfilling this SPARC Objective.) Symposium Working Group – Terms of Reference

Communications working groupto sustain an on-going process of identifying and sharing key challenges, innovations and opportunities that impact the performing arts in rural and remote communities. Communications Working Group – Terms of Reference

An additional working group was later formed and is responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation of the organization.




Rachel Marks – Network Coordinator

Photo of Rachel Marks








Image description: A white, middle-aged woman with pink hair sits in a brown and gold striped chair looking into the camera. She wears a black top and her cats-eye glasses are red.

Rachel is, and will always be, a theatre kid at heart! After spending several years working developing programs for autistic children and their families, Rachel took this knowledge and combined it with her theatre background (stage management, administration and events) and began developing improv programs for children and youth who are neurodivergent, or are members of the disability community. Rachel works as a Relaxed Performance Consultant, working with companies like the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Soulpepper Theatre, and The National Ballet of Canada, to welcome disabled audiences to their performances. Rachel’s own artistic practice focuses on both community engaged theatre and developing sensory immersive theatre for children with disabilities. In 2018 Rachel was one of 18 artists worldwide invited to participate in the Big Umbrella Festival (the first festival of arts for children with ASD) Artist track program at the Lincoln Center (NYC) and later that year, one of 16 artists who trained under Oily Cart Theatre (London, UK) in sensory theatre for children with multiple and profound disabilities and developmental delays. Rachel is a tireless advocate for accessibility in the arts.  Rachel also works part time with Roseneath Theatre as Accessibility & Booking Coordinator. Rachel has been with SPARC since the beginning of 2020.


Jason Manitowabi – Northern Outreach Coordinator 

Photo of Jason ManitowabiAs a lifelong arts advocate and musician in and around his First Nation community of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island, Jason is excited to join the team to help extend the arm of SPARC into the northern regions of Ontario.

From early ages taking lead roles in school plays, to warming up the stage for Buffy Sainte-Marie as a teen, to his current position as the recording technician and Music and Audio Department Lead at the Debajehmujig Creation Centre, Jason has remained true to his passion for the steady promotion and support for the arts. Attending school for Audio Engineering and Recorded Music Production, Jason has also developed programming that interweaves music, culture, language and expression into community creation projects. He is also a Presenter, planner and coordinator and team leader of the Wiikwemkoong Arts and Music Festival. He has been a recipient of several grants over the years as an applicant and grant writer for his company and also receiving as a professional artist from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, where, on 2 occasions, he travelled to Nashville TN to complete Career Development training.


(this list will be updated as we update our site, thank you for understanding)

Felicity Buckell – Member at Large, previous Symposium Coordinator (2018)Photo of Felicity Buckell

Felicity Buckell grew up in Toronto but made the move to Northern Ontario over 20 years ago.  She now resides just outside of Haileybury, with her youngest son, two cats, nine chickens, and four beehives.  When not busy organizing the Symposium, caring for bees and chickens, digging in her garden, or visiting her other three children (all of whom attend university in Toronto), Felicity works with various community organizations and is currently employed part-time with le Conseil des arts Temiskaming Arts Council and the Cobalt Mining Museum, and is curating a retrospective exhibition of the life and work of artist Benjamin Chee Chee with the Temiskaming Art Gallery.  Felicity is involved with SPARC because she is passionate about the arts, her community, and facilitating connections amongst like-minded groups and individuals.

Kate Butler – Symposium Committee

Photo of Kate ButlerKate Butler hails originally from Toronto, but these days makes her home in Haliburton, Ontario, after spending time living in Ireland, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. A folklorist by training, she has worked at the National Museum of Ireland and for the Heritage Division of the Irish Office of Public Works, as well as teaching at both Memorial University of Newfoundland and Cape Breton University. Kate has been Director of the Haliburton Highlands Museum since 2013 and also chairs the Arts Council Haliburton Highlands. She sits on the SPARC Network Steering Committee and was involved in the organization of the 2016 SPARC Symposium. Kate has also recently returned to the stage after several years away and is one of the founding members of Rural Rogues Productions, a theatre troupe dedicated to telling stories rooted in our local history, culture and landscape. Kate became involved with SPARC because sometime persuaded her to join yet another committee – just kidding! In reality, she is extremely excited about the richness and diversity of our rural performing arts scene, as well as the larger topic of our intangible cultural heritage. A network like SPARC can build amazing connections and open up a wide range of opportunities for those involved – we’re stronger together!

Michael Clipperton – Governance Committee Chair

Photo of Michael ClippertonIn a career that spans more years than he cares to remember, Michael has been a director, playwright, actor, singer, designer, producer, teacher, adjudicator, workshop leader and university lecturer. He holds an Honours Degree in Theatre (York), a B.Ed. in Drama (UofT), and an MA in Drama (UofT). He was a high school Drama Teacher with the Simcoe County District School Board for 26 years, and is now on Faculty at Lakehead University (Orillia campus), where he teaches Drama and Dance to teacher-candidates. Michael has taught workshops throughout Ontario in acting, directing, stage combat, playwriting, and musical theatre. Michael has directed dozens of shows throughout Central Ontario. Some highlights include The Importance of Being Earnest (OnStage Uxbridge), Vanya & Sonya & Masha & Spike (Mariposa Arts Theatre), Company (South Simcoe Theatre), Anne of Green Gables (Coldwater Village Players), Jitters (Theatre Aurora), Guys and Dolls (Georgetown Globe Productions), Hard As Steele (Sunshine Festival Theatre), Romeo and Juliet (Theatre Cobourg), and The Affections of May (Double R Productions). As a playwright, Michael has written numerous murder mystery-thrillers, as well as several historical works including Eight Short Plays About Mary McKay; They Didn’t Even Ask Us, and ReGeneration: A Haliburton Tale. He is a resident of Haliburton County and is a member of the SPARC Steering Committee. Michael is also a member of the Theatre Ontario Talent Bank.

Eric Goudie – Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, Symposium Committee, Rural &Remote Arts Visibility Campaign Granting Committee

Photo of Eric GoudieEric Goudie is a genre-blending artisan enjoying a rich, diverse and fulfilling career in the creative and performing arts. He is a poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, blogger and copywriter. He is a graphic designer, audio engineer, arts consultant, editor, academic, dramaturg and teacher. He is a producer, director, designer, stage manager, stagehand and actor. He is a farmer, gardener, entrepreneur, woodworker, outdoorsman, volunteer and husband.

Eric began his complex and lifelong love affairs with writing and the theatre during his days in public school, when he had a poem published through the Poetry Institute of Canada, a play produced at the Sears Drama Festival, and won the Dorothy Shoemaker Literary Award for Fiction. Since then he has gone on to author no fewer than 40 stage plays, as well as many other works of poetry and prose. He authored of over 400 articles and How-to Guides on a wide variety of subject matter for, and was a member of the site’s Channel Managing, editorial and title-seeding teams for many years. In recent years Eric has turned his attention back to his first love, creative writing.

In the theatre half of his world Eric has worked as a professional designer, stage manager and technician, and has produced and directed over 70 different plays through Grinder Productions, his own live theatre company. Other production credits include shows with Touchmark Theatre, Bluewater Summer Playhouse, Theatre on the Grand, Elora Community Theatre, Wellington-Waterloo Playhouse, Guelph Little Theatre, CC Entertainment, the Kaufman Arts Studio and many others.

In 2013 Eric became the Theatre Coordinator of the Fergus Grand Theatre, fulfilling a lifelong dream. In 2017 he joined forces with a group of like-minded performing arts professionals to create the Community Presenters’ Network, a resource-sharing and block-booking network of small and medium-sized performing arts centres from across Ontario. Later that year he was also invited to join the SPARC team, where he sits on the Outreach, Communications and Monitoring and Evaluation committees. Eric’s love of all things SPARC stems from a firm belief that artistic excellence can come from anywhere, big or small, from anything, be it expensive or cheap, and by anyone, be they professionally-accredited or not.

Eric lives in a 150 year-old log home on his family-owned goat farm just outside of Fergus Ontario, with two cats and Julie, the inspiration and love of his life.

Find Eric here:


Sandy Irvin – Finance Committee, Rural &Remote Arts Visibility Campaign Granting Committee, Website & Logo Committee

Photo of Sandy Irvin


Sandy Irvin is a lifelong arts volunteer and community animator. Happier behind the scenes than at centre stage, she has been an active force in Mississippi Mills for the past 20 years or so. Currently she helms Folkus Concert Series, a celebration of Canadian acoustic artists held in the winter months at the Almonte Old Town Hall. Folkus is entering its 20th year.
Sandy has also been Chair and Artistic Director for On Stage for Kids, a multidisciplinary children’s series, where she also produced Pie Rats of
the Mississippi, a teen-driven puppet show. Sandy was an active part of Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival for all of its 13 years, from founding the craft tent (she sewed 2200 finger puppets in a single weekend marathon) to running lights at the cabaret, marching in parades, and serving on the board.
Sandy also served on the board of the Elizabeth Kelly Library foundation for ten years, including several years as President; where the Foundation provided keystone funding for a complete branch renovation, supported STEM projects at the local high school and the main library, provided seed funding for a breakfast program, and funded a beloved community pizza oven.

Professionally, Sandy was Manager at Stewart Park Festival for a couple of successful seasons, ran social media for the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards and ArtsNation/NationEnArt, and has also written ad campaigns for CBT software and manuals for nuclear devices.

Sandy is a sometime choir singer, backwoods harmonica player, writer, gardener, and bicycle aficionado. She lives in a two century old house with her husband, 2 grown up kids, a varying number of dogs and cats, and a benevolent poltergeist.

Chris Lynd – Chair, Board of Directors, Symposium Committee Chair, Rural &Remote Arts Visibility Campaign Granting Committee, Finance Committee

Chris Lynd – Chris Lynd is a long time resident of the Haliburton Highlands. Her involvement in the arts began when she arrived in Haliburton 42 years ago and continued as she met other people who had the same goal of supporting arts and culture in the community. Through the Arts Council, Chris helps to initiate ideas, programmes and events that are

incentives for artists and makers and draws residents and visitors for enjoyment and learning.
Chris was a founding member of SPARC and has been dedicated to its goals and vision since the beginning. She has been the chair of the SPARC Network Steering Committee since 2015 and has put her name forward for Reseau SPARC to continue the work with performing artists and arts organizations in rural and remote communities.

Gordon Duff – Symposium Committee, OTF SPARC Communities/Hub partner

Hello, I’m Gordon Duff from Minto which is in Wellington County, north of Guelph.
I have been involved with SPARC since the 2014 Symposium where I was part of a presentation on implementing a Municipal Cultural Plan.

I have attended every SPARC gathering since then and was a co-host of a Regional mini-Symposium in October 2018. I have met the most fascinating people through SPARC and have been so impressed by their talents and passion.
Locally, I am a founding member of the Minto Arts Council and been involved with event planning both independently, with Culture Days and working with SPARC.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for support and collaboration among small arts organizations. The arts and culture sector has been one of the hardest hit sectors, yet the desire for community connections through common experiences has remained a priority.

I have extensive experience working in a public accounting setting before working in municipal finance.
I have written many successful grant applications and am used to reporting on these projects and serving on not-for-profit boards.

I look forward to building on the strong foundation built by SPARC and helping to lead us to recovery and better times.

Joahnna Berti – Symposium Committee

The conference in Cobalt reconnected me to SPARC. I was so pleased that something was being organized in Northern Ontario, this does not happen very often. After Debaj went to that conference (Spring 2018), my colleagues were uplifted and empowered from presenting there. This made SPARC stand out in our experience. There have been many presenting opportunities where we come home feeling that we did our best, but not necessarily that people really understand us by what we have presented. The

return from Cobalt really showed me that this organization was truly different. Our artists Jason Manitowabi and Samantha Brennan have really benefitted from working with SPARC and this really attracted me as well.

what drew you to the performing arts, your history:
I have been working in theatre and multi art since 1984 when I graduated from Queens in Psychology. In my earlier years I worked with Limelight Dinner Theatre and The Second City 1985-1992. By 1990 I knew that I wanted to leave Toronto and my partner, a film maker had already been making a film in Killarney and Wanupitae. We decided one spring weekend that it was time to move to Northern Ontario. Shortly after we arrived, I was offered a job with The Three Fires Music Festival in Wiikwemikoong (1993) and my partner landed a job with Debajehmujig Storytellers. I started helping by selling the touring productions. This led to developing marketing plans and strategies and ultimately initiating an outreach program that brought us into 70 First Nation communities, delivering youth focused arts residencies in isolated and remote First Nations. This opened up the vast creative landscape in Northern Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, that is the Anishnabe territory. There have been so many important and inspiring discoveries that I have remained fully engaged at Debajehmujig for over 27 years.

what you can offer SPARC:
A wealth of experience and a passion for Northern arts infrastructure development. I have worked with The Arts Network for Children and Youth, Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance, Community Arts Ontario and several other arts organizations over the years, all in the hopes of advancing stable arts infrastructure in reserves and Northern Towns. I am passionate about everyone’s right to creative engagement, its transformative power in community building, social acceptance and cohesion as well as economic development and enhanced outcomes in education for children and youth.
why you live where you do – anything that you would like us to know!
I live on Manitoulin Island. I live on a farm in Tehkummah Township, just outside of South Baymouth where the ferry docks in the summer time. I live here because it feels like home. When I first came I felt that I was supposed to be here, the whole environment was welcoming me home. I didn’t live here before so this very compelling feeling stood out.
I have been so impressed with how SPARC has embraced by colleagues Jason and Samantha. Both of them have been really empowered by their experience and I really hope to contribute to creating more experiences like that for other artists. I work with these two so I know how unique and remarkable they are. There are remarkable people all over the north that could really use the same connection and the empowerment. I really hope that I can also contribute to SPARC as they have.

Katherine Lewis – Finance Committee, Member at Large

Boozhoo! Geesesabekwe nindizhinikaaz. Makade maakwa dodaem.
My name is Katherine Lewis, and I am a member of Hornepayne First Nation, an unceded band which represents the descendants of Nagagamasis and Morrison River.

I was born and raised in Hornepayne, Ontario and have lived most of my adult life here.
Through learning traditions, and being creative, I was able to find my own gifts: as a community activist and advocate on many social and environmental levels, and as a textile artist in various traditions and mediums. Currently, I am a hand drum carrier and member of the women’s drum group Wabshke Nimki Kweok, formed out of Sault Ste Marie. I also work full time in the finance department of Hornepayne Lumber and am the proud mother of three children.
Growing up, I benefited greatly from the Elders and volunteers in our community. I believe that mentorship is an extremely important component in any artist’s life. My dream is to create spaces for these relationships to be nurtured within my own community and beyond. In this day and age, we have never been more connected while simultaneously secluded. It is hard for these relationships to form organically sometimes, so connecting Hornepayne to the Réseau SPARC Network is very exciting to me.
I was introduced to SPARC when our community joined Ontario Culture Days. I would love for our community’s relationship with SPARC to continue and evolve. Hornepayne is literally the centre of Ontario. With a declining population and always changing economy, it is challenging for local talent to have a platform to perform. I would love for the emerging artists of Hornepayne to gain resources and to share our unique view within the SPARC community.

Kim Blackwell – Member at Large

I am the Managing Artistic Director at 4th Line Theatre which is just south of Millbrook, ON. I have been involved at 4th Line since 1992 and held positions ranging from Assistant Stage Manager to Director of Marketing, Artistic Associate and Managing Artistic Producer.

I was appointed Managing Artistic Director in October 2014. I lead the company’s the play development program and have dramaturge the development of 23 world premiere plays. I have directed 23 productions.
At 4th Line Theatre, we produce large scale epic theatrical productions on a 180 year old, 100-acre farm theatre property. I am a huge proponent of arts service organizations and the power of the collective. And I have been working at 4th Line for almost 30 years but living in Toronto for the last 20 years. My family has just moved back to Peterborough and I want to work in a meaningful way within this community and region for the good of all artists. I have work in our unique professional community model since the beginning of the theatre and can bring the unique learnings to the Board.

I bring to SPARC, 30 years of community-based arts work; a love of the arts; and belief in the transformative power of art to change the world. I also bring three decades of lived and work experience from a rural arts organization. I have experience as both an artist and an administrator and can bring both perspectives to my role as a Board member of SPARC.
I am raised in Peterborough and have lived from Fort MacMurray to New Orleans and many places in between. I am happy to be home in Peterborough, and living where I work for the first time in 20 years. I love small towns and rural communities and the fascinating people who chose to live in rural parts of our country.

Krista Dalby – Symposium Committee, Website & Logo Committee

Krista Dalby is the Artistic Director of the Department of Illumination, bringing joy and creativity to the people of Prince Edward County through festivals, workshops, and other artistic events since 2013. Krista is a multi-disciplinary artist with a passion for community building, co-founding The Firelight Lantern Festival and launching winter arts festival ICE BOX. She is the recipient of the 2019 Community Arts Builder Award from the Prince Edward County Arts Council and the 2016 Arts Recognition Award from the Quinte Arts Council. A playwright, director, designer and producer, Krista spent seven seasons with Festival Players of Prince Edward County and four years as Assistant Artistic Director at Toronto’s Clay & Paper Theatre. She is a former Board Member/Interim Chair of The Prince Edward County Arts Council. @deptofillumination

I attended my first SPARC symposium in 2014 and immediately felt like I had found my people! I’d been living rurally for less than four years and was still struggling to figure out how to make art in this new landscape. I was so inspired to meet all these incredible people making huge creative strides in rural places, and I made lasting friendships with creators and producers from across the country. The experience gave me so much courage! I also attended the other two symposiums, and I’ve always been so impressed by the SPARC organization: it is truly visionary, but also well-run, inclusive, and filled with a great generosity of spirit. I’ve continued to be involved with SPARC outside the symposiums: coordinating a community consultation in PEC, writing a few blog posts, helping develop a mentorship program and attending a strategic planning meeting. Our community was lucky enough to be a recipient of SPARC’s Collaborative Community Initiatives Fund, which successfully helped save a beloved venue, The Picton Town Hall. I was slated to be a presenter at the 2020 Symposium, and hope to resuscitate that presentation when the time comes. I am honoured to join the Board of Réseau SPARC Network, and look forward to working alongside this wonderful group of people to support the arts in rural places.

Nicole Myers-Mitchell – Symposium Committee

Nicole Myers-Mitchell was born and raised in Wallaceburg, a small town between Windsor and London, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a degree in Acting from the University of Windsor and moved to Toronto in 2006 where she worked as an actor and stage manager.

In January 2021 she took the position of General Manager for The Grove Theatre in Fenelon Falls, ON with an outdoor amphitheater. The 2021 season is the company’s inaugural season! Prior to her position at The Grove, she spent five years with the wonderful team at Roseneath Theatre as their Associate Producer and Interim Managing Director. She joined the Roseneath team after multi-tasking with Meredith Potter at Volcano Theatre and Peggy Baker Dance Projects as the Manager of Communications and Enrichment. From 2012 – 2014 she worked at Opera Atelier, a Baroque opera company that performs out of the Elgin Theatre, as the Development Coordinator and then Manager of Corporate Development and Special Events. Overlapping both these jobs, Nicole was the Producer for Shakespeare in the Ruff’s 2014 production of Cymbeline’s Reign and then the company’s General Manager throughout the 2015 season.
Since the pandemic, Nicole and her family embraced their west end Toronto neighbourhood. Suddenly not having access to city transportation encouraged them to theoretically open their doors to neighbours they would have previously passed on the street in a hurry. They have come to long for and thrive on neighbourly interactions so easily found in smaller communities. When the opportunity to move to the Kawarthas presented itself, Nicole and her family jumped at the chance. In March 2021, Nicole moved to Fenelon Falls with her husband Chris and two year old son Max. The warmth they have already felt from the Kawartha community has been extraordinary. They are excited to call Fenelon home.
Nicole was introduced to SPARC by Rachel Marks, SPARCs Network Coordinator. Both Rachel and Nicole worked together at Roseneath Theatre making sure social justice and equity themed theatre was accessible to all children and youth across Canada. Knowing she was moving to a rural community, Nicole eagerly inquired about joining SPARCs board.

Claire Senko – SPARCS of Hope Granting Committee

Stephanie Filippi – SPARCS of Hope Granting Committee, OTF SPARC Communities/Hub Partner

I am currently the Company manager at Shaw Festival. I am passionate about the arts, working in creative environments, supporting access to enriching cultural experiences. I have a strong interest in fostering community capacity building, growth, for healthy and vibrant communities. For me the arts are an essential part of life. I am a volunteer Board member of La Maison de la culture francophone du Niagara, partner in SPARC HUB new pilot project. I am president of the Ontario Puppetry Association, vice president of Bravo Niagara festival of the Arts, on the community outreach advisory committee for Carousel Players Theatre. I reside in St Catharines.

I am honoured to be Joining SPARC board, it truly feels like coming full circle for me…. The first SPARC Symposium in 2014 was truly a transformative experience for me. I immediately felt a very personal connection to SPARC’s mandate, its mission. It aligns with my personal values, beliefs.

From the Start, I always been drawn to the network strong vision, leadership, how welcoming, inclusive. How diverse and grassroots SPARC community is.

Beside, my strong Arts administration background, working experience in the corporate and not for profit also tourism sectors. I bring the ability to bridge, work with diverse community groups around a shared vision, always encouraging collaborative partnerships, learning, and growth. I am an integrative thinker, a connector, with a circular approach to life…

Originally from France, Always wanted to live in Canada, and specifically in Ontario – love the outdoors, being close to nature, water, being able to listen to the birds every morning (Happy spring!)
I need to feel part of a community that I can contribute to. I am home here in beautiful Niagara peninsula, where I can fully embrace both my Francophone and Canadian roots. Dive into such rich diverse collective, shared history, enjoy a comfortable close to nature lifestyle, where I can continue to focus on life’s possibilities…


Jim Blake – Network Steering Committee (Finances, Monitoring & Evaluation)

Photo of Jim BlakeJim resides in Haliburton, Ontario where he works as a facilitator, consultant, project manager and educator. He is a Consultant for the Haliburton County Development Corporation, Curator of the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and a part-time faculty member at the Fleming College, Haliburton Campus. Jim also works as a facilitator and consultant for organizations and businesses throughout Ontario. He was involved in the cultural plans for the four lower tier municipalities in Haliburton County and serves on two municipal Cultural Resources Committees.

As a community volunteer, Jim is the president and co-founder of the Haliburton County Community-Co-operative, co-chair and co-founder of the U-Links Centre for Community-Based Research, board member of the Trent Community Research Centre, treasurer and co-founder of the SPARC Network, chair of Dance Happens Here Haliburton, chair of the Glebe Park and Museum committee of the Municipality of Dysart et al, co-founder of the Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands and serves on various committees of not-for-profit organizations.

In 2007, Jim was awarded the Fleming College Fellowship in Applied Education, in 2014 the Paul Harris Rotary Fellowship Award and the Fleming College Brian L. Desbien Community Service Award and in 2015 the Highlander of the Year awarded by the Chamber of Commerce for community service.

Through his company Haliburton Associates, Jim Blake has been providing consulting services for businesses and not-for-profit organizations since 1993.

This work has included facilitation, project management, business planning, event planning, strategic planning and training for provincial, regional and local businesses and organizations. Over the past fifteen years he has worked closely with the Haliburton County Development Corporation assisting them with the establishment systems and protocols for the delivery of the Eastern Ontario Development Program, providing expertise in the area of community economic development, providing project development and management for economic development initiatives and facilitating strategic planning.

From 1977 to 1992 Jim was a manager of recreation and social services and of camping, outdoor and environmental education facilities in Ontario and British Columbia and was active on provincial boards in both provinces.

Jim is a professional storyteller who, over the past thirty years, has performed at festivals and events across Canada. He studied fine art at University of Guelph, York University and the New School of Art and exhibited his work as a visual artist from 1976 to 1984.

Jim holds degrees in Psychology and Education from York University.

Barrie Martin – Network Steering Committee

Photo of Barrie MartinAs President of Haliburton County Folk Society, member of the Performing Arts Round Table and a founding member of the SPARC steering committee, Barrie Martin has been active helping to shape the music scene in the Haliburton Highlands.  The Folk Society presents a concert series in venues through the County, house concerts, monthly open stages, and a Winter Folk Camp.  The Society supports local musicians by providing them with opportunities to perform, selling their music, offering recording subsidies, scholarships for youth, producing  compilation CDs, and promoting the talents of local artists.   Barrie owns and operates Yours Outdoors, a company that specializes in experiential tourism to create unique adventures in art, culture and nature that often include the performing arts.  He also provides consulting services in environmental education, outdoor recreation, tourism, and community development.

Harold Hess – Network Steering Committee (Outreach)

Photo of Harold HessHarold is a life -long community based singer, actor and advocate for all forms of art in his community, volunteering on many community development and arts focused, non-profit Boards. Harold is currently a Board member of the Brockville based Youth Opportunities in the Arts, providing opportunities for youth who may not find arts opportunities in their schools. He believes the Arts can provide youth with opportunities to be leaders in their communities. As a retired secondary and elementary teacher, Vice Principal and Principal, Harold believes in supporting and investing time in his community as a volunteer. With experience as a long -time community volunteer and fundraiser, he now is the Manager of the Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau. Harold believes in the collaborative investing of time and community resources in building strong and healthy communities where the “arts experience” can be accessible to all.

David Newland – Network Steering Committee

Photo of David NewlandWriter, musician, photographer and speaker David Newland was named a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in 2015, a distinction that reflects a lifelong passion for exploring Canadian landscapes and stories. David earned a scholarship to Lester B Pearson United World College as a teen. He graduated with distinction from Concordia University’s Fine Arts program, majoring in photography. David was raised in rural Ontario, north of Parry Sound, and is now raising growing family in small-town Cobourg. David has received Ontario Arts council grants for both writing, and music projects. A veteran performer on the Canadian folk music scene, and an expedition host with Adventure Canada, David travels widely from coast, to coast, to coast. His current project, Northbound: The Northwest Passage in Story and Song reconsiders the Canadian

Tammy Rea – Network Steering Committee (Communications)


Rebecca Ballarin – Network Coordinator (Nov 2017 – March 2020)

Photo of Rebecca BallarinOriginally from Peterborough, Ontario, Rebecca grew up with many opportunities to explore the performing arts; taking Highland Dance lessons, singing in the Peterborough Children’s Chorus, taking flute lessons, participating in community theatre, and attending high-school at PCVS in the Integrated Arts Program. She began living in Toronto – where she is currently based – while attending University, studying theatre. Since completing her undergraduate degree, Rebecca has been working as an independent director and producer in Toronto. She has worked with Alumnae Theatre, Hart House Theatre, and on a number of indie productions including a few productions in the SummerWorks Performance Festival, and shows in various Fringe Festivals. She has also held a number of administrative positions, most recently working as the Professional Theatre and Education Manager at Theatre Ontario, and previously spending a summer as the Youth and Community Outreach Coordinator at Canadian Stage.

Rebecca’s first introduction to SPARC was as a member of the youth caucus at the 2014 Symposium. Sitting on Theatre Ontario’s Youth Advisory committee at the time, she learned a great deal about youth-oriented initiatives across the province, and the range of barriers to access youth in rural and remote communities face. It was such an enriching experience that she also attended the second symposium in 2016 as an independent theatre artist. She was inspired again by the community-engaged, collaborative, and cross-disciplinary initiatives spearheaded by those in attendance, and by everyone’s desire to connect, communicate and work together. Rebecca is so excited to now have the opportunity to work with SPARC!

Chandel Gambles – Northern Outreach Consultant (Nov 2017-Sept 2018)

Photo of Chandel GamblesOriginally born in Haileybury, Chandel has returned to the Temiskaming Shores area to help prepare SPARC for the upcoming Cobalt Symposium and head northern outreach initiatives. Stationing herself in this beautiful area allows her to balance both SPARC outreach and event plans equally. Chandel’s nomadic lifestyle has brought her to many communities across Canada and overseas. However she continues to return to Ottawa, where she has performed with daring, eclectic, and multidisciplinary theatre companies and has taught theatre. Chandel has worked both onstage and behind the scenes on many productions, and continues to enjoy writing and developing new plays. Within the Cobalt area, she has enjoyed working with the Pied Piper Kidshows, as they bring high-caliber children’s performances and workshops to family audiences. She also currently enjoys staying in touch with her agricultural roots by acting as an Associate Director of Photography and Media for the New Liskeard Fall Fair. Chandel is pleased to be working for SPARC as the Northern Outreach Consultant, to help create a more vibrant and supportive arts scene across Ontario’s many communities.

Michael Martyn – Network Steering Committee (Symposium, Monitoring & Evaluation)

Photo of Michael MartynOriginally from Peterborough, Ontario, Michael has worked in the cultural sector for almost 30 years, including time in Banff, Vancouver, and Melbourne, Australia. Currently based in Orillia, Ontario, Michael serves as General Manager of the Huronia Cultural Campus. With an MBA from Schulich School of Business, Michael is committed to developing long term career prospects for cultural sector workers who live in regional and rural areas.

Michael serves on the Evaluation Committee for SPARC. Outside of his administration work Michael also works as a performing singer/songwriter. His third solo album, ‘Rude Mechanicals’, is due out in April 2018. Michael lives in Orillia with his wife, two sons, golden retriever, bunny, and something that’s wintering in the attic.

Drew Gauley – Network Steering Committee (Symposium, 2018)

Photo of Drew GauleyDrew Gauley is a full-time filmmaker and media artist residing in beautiful Temiskaming Shores in northern Ontario. Having grown up in the suburbs of the GTA before living in downtown Toronto while working at the ROM for 10+ years, he is happy to consider himself a northerner now. In addition to providing commercial video services through his company Good Gauley Productions, Drew produces collaborative arts projects, documentary films and offers media instruction. With a guiding belief of the societal benefits associated with arts related pursuits, Drew is active on many boards and works tires tirelessly to support and promote arts, culture and heritage. He is a valuable member of the 2018 SPARC symposium working group providing his expertise towards all things video, event support and long-term documentation. He believes that the work of the SPARC organization and in particular, the 2018 symposium in Cobalt will bring about positive change in support of arts, culture and heritage to rural Ontario.

Wendy Fairbairn – Network Steering Committee (Membership)

Photo of Wendy FairbairnWendy Fairbairn has worked at a number of theatres over the last 30 years including the Toronto Performing Arts Centre, Meadowvale Theatre and The Rose Theatre as front of house manager; at the Pantages, the Assembly Hall and Meadowvale Theatre as arts administrator and as general manager for the Red Barn Theatre, Huntsville Algonquin Theatre, Vaughan City Playhouse and now the Orillia Opera house.

Wendy married into the theatre. Her husband is a dancer, actor, singer, director and choreographer. So to see a bit of him, she started to work with him for a number of community theatre groups in Mississauga.  Wendy has done everything from costumes to sets, sound to lighting, production to a member of their broads.  The only thing she wouldn’t do is perform.

She is happy to be part of SPARC and looks forward to seeing it continue to grow strong ties within the rural and remote communities.