welcome - Edmonton Arts Council

Board of Directors



Executive Committee

Patricia Darbasie


Pat Darbasie - Chair

A graduate of the University of Alberta’s BFA Acting program, Pat has been an active member of the Edmonton theatre community for over 20 years, and is a two-time Sterling award winner. In 2001 Pat started writing plays; Carnival Magic, a play based on West Indian culture, toured Edmonton area schools with Concrete Theatre. Ribbon, about black settlers in Amber Valley, is a one-woman show she wrote and performed for her MFA thesis in Directing at the University of Alberta.

Upon completion of her MFA, Pat studied Voice and Speech at York University, where her thesis was The Syringa Tree which she directed using voice and movement techniques from her year of study. Pat has taught as a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta and Concordia University College, and continues as a freelance artist with her fingers in many creative pies!


Debbie Houle - Vice Chair

Debbie Houle is Métis from the Elizabeth Métis Settlement in Northeast Alberta. She has been working in Edmonton’s Indigenous community for over 27 years. In 2011 she was elected to the Board and served for four years as President of Aksis, Edmonton’s Aboriginal Business and Professional Association. In her fulltime role as a Liaison Officer with Alberta Indigenous Relations she works with First Nation Chief and Councils in Alberta managing the First Nation Development Fund for economic, social and community projects. As one of five founding members of Asani she has been composing, arranging and performing original compositions in English and Cree since 1997. Asani has recorded two compacts discs entitled “Rattle and Drum” and “Listen”. They continue to perform and collaborate with other artists on new projects that share the rich culture of First Nations and Métis people. Debbie is passionate about improving the opportunities for other artists and recently created the Alberta Network of Indigenous Artists aimed at connecting artists in all disciplines with opportunities to present, perform and share their work.


Vivianne Favreau-Sparrow - Treasurer

Vivianne Favreau-Sparrow is an independent contract accountant and violinist who believes art is to be celebrated and embraced and has a desire to support the Edmonton arts community with her financial expertise. Peace of mind is at the forefront of Vivianne’s objectives when providing support to business owners, board of directors and finance teams. For the past 12 years, her services have included financial accounting process review and assessment, financial statement analysis and preparation, corporate tax, hiring of key personnel and employee mentorship. Vivianne earned her CMA, CPA designation while working in public practice and has experience in various private industry sectors.

A violinist since the age of three, she currently plays first violin with Orchestra Borealis, formerly known as Concordia Symphony Orchestra. In addition to life as an accountant, musician and Mom of two, Vivianne volunteers her time to various community, school and sport organizations.

 Christopher Filipowicz

Christopher Filipowicz - Secretary

Christopher is an architect, business owner, mentor, and a volunteer active in several professional associations. Since 2018 he has been a dedicated contributor with the Edmonton Arts Council's Board of Directors. As a former Council Member of the Alberta Association of Architects and a former Chair of AAA Complaint Review Committee, Christopher gained experience in governance of a profession that regulates the practices of Architecture and Licensed Interior Design in the province of Alberta. Being immersed in an environment, where various professionals collaborate and exchange ideas to better serve and fairly balance the community needs, continuously feeds his understanding and commitment towards the strengthening of Edmonton's arts community. This encompasses preservation of the art and cultural heritage in its many forms and expressions. Supporting, facilitating, and expanding various creative activities within the sphere of transformative civic interactions and social interdependencies, continuously feeds and guides his commitment, and dedication as a contributing member of the EAC.


Members at Large

 Karen Brown Fournell

Karen Brown Fournell

Karen Brown Fournell is a 20+-year veteran of arts administration, and a 20+-year journalist before that. Her newest challenge is with Shadow Theatre, where she has taken the helm as General Manager. She previously served with Rapid Fire Theatre, the third-oldest Theatresports Company in the world, taking that organization on a 10-fold evolution to become one of the busiest, most diverse and energetic theatre producers in Edmonton. She also served as President of the International Theatresports Institute for eight years. She fully embraces the improv tenets to say "yes and" make the other guy look good.


Clinton Carew

Clinton Carew is an award-winning artist who works in and across the fields of theatre, music, and media arts. Combining his background as an actor, a writer's ear, and a technician's sense of innovation, Clinton's work is marked by daring and wit, with a sensitivity to emotional truth. When not creating art or running one of his companies (Broken Toys Theatre and Heights Residential Window Cleaning), he teaches Public Speaking to International Students at MacEwan University's School for Continuing Education.

 Alexandra Dawkins

Alexandra Dawkins

Alexandra Dawkins is an actor, devised-theatre creator, visual artist, clown, musician, writer, and producer based in Amiskwacîwâskahikan / Edmonton, Alberta in Treaty 6 Territory. Alexandra is a graduate of the University of Alberta's BFA Acting program, an alumnus of the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance, a past participant of the One Yellow Rabbit Summer Lab Intensive and has completed an internship with Toy Guns Dance Theatre. Alexandra has worked throughout Canada as a professional performer for the last eight years, her work predominantly being based in Edmonton. She has been an Associate Artistic Director of the collective creation theatre company, 'Innocent Operations' since 2015. Alexandra is a collaborative artist who enjoys working with diverse individuals in the interest of generating new, challenging, and multidisciplinary Canadian work.


Mary Ann Dobson

Mary Ann is an art educator and school administrator who grew up in rural Alberta, living in several small towns as the daughter of a grain elevator operator. She moved to Edmonton for high school and fell in love with the arts in our city. She is a lifelong volunteer for visual arts organizations and has dedicated her career to providing opportunities for children and the community to access the arts.

Mary Ann has been a visual art educator and school administrator for over 20 years and is currently the principal of Minchau School, a Kindergarten-Grade 6 School in Southeast Edmonton. She has experience as an assistant principal and principal in two arts core schools as well as being the Art Consultant for Edmonton Public Schools. Mary Ann has a BFA (visual art) and more recently, completed her Master of Art Education at the University of Alberta. Mary Ann served on the boards of the Society of
Northern Alberta Print artists (SNAP) and the Canadian Society for Education through Art/Société Canadienne d'éducation par l'art (CSEA). Over the years, Mary Ann has worked with numerous artists in residence in schools and has experience securing grants and managing projects from community engagement through to completion.


Jean-Pierre Fournier

Jean-Pierre Fournier is an actor, fight director, director, and teacher. A graduate of the University of Alberta Drama program, he was Coordinator of Performance (acting) with the Theatre department at Mount Royal University from 1998 to 2013. He received a Sterling Lifetime Achievement award from the Edmonton Theatre community in 2014 and a Betty Mitchell Theatre award for Fight Direction in 2004. The Jean-Pierre Fournier Fellowship Award for promising young Fight Directors and Teachers has been set-up with Fight Directors Canada. Jean-Pierre taught workshops in Europe, the USA, and across Canada, has lectured at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, and consulted on the historical aspects of swordplay for ballets, operas, theatre, and film. He continues to teach at universities, schools, and community theatres across Canada and works as a fight director and stunt coordinator for stage, film, and television. He works with high schools in Edmonton and Calgary on a variety of projects.

Kristi Hansen

Kristi Hansen

Kristi Hansen is a disabled theatre artist who has called Edmonton home for the past twenty years. Kristi trained as an actor at Grant MacEwan's Theatre Arts Program, and at the University of Alberta's Bachelor of Fine Arts Acting Program. Kristi is the cofounder and co-Artistic Director of The Maggie Tree, an ad-hoc theatre company that encourages the growth of projects initiated and driven by women, for a sustained interest and visibility of women in theatre and the arts. Kristi is also the former co-Artistic Producer of Azimuth Theatre and former co-curator/producer of the Expanse Festival in Edmonton, Alberta. Kristi's work in the theatre focuses primarily on acting, producing, teaching, mentorship, speaking, and community advocacy.


Ainsley Hillyard


Ainsley Hillyard is an Amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton)-based artist of settler descent. She is a choreographer, administrator, educator and performer who works in contemporary dance and theatre. Her work is immersed in the curiosities and connections between these two forms. Ainsley is a co-founder, a co-artistic director and general manager for the Good Women Dance Collective. She has worked as a choreographer and performer for various theatre and dance companies in Amiskwacîwâskahikan and received numerous Sterling nominations and awards for her performances and choreographies. In her free time she enjoys going for very long walks with her French bulldog Jezebel and reading feminist sci fi. Ainsley is very excited to serve on the EAC board and to continue learning about and supporting this beautiful arts community with her full self.


Mireille Rijavec

As a mezzo-soprano soloist, Mireille has been heard many times on the CBC and has appeared with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, the Richard Eaton Singers, Pro Coro Canada, the Edmonton Metropolitan Orchestra, Concordia University Chorus and Orchestra, Opera Breve Vancouver, Western Concert Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, and in productions supported by Edmonton Opera. Mireille and pianist Roxanne Classen have been performing cabaret together in the Edmonton area and beyond since their 2007 Edmonton Fringe debut Brie, Baguette, and a Broad. Mireille was Music Faculty at the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean from 1999 to 2012 and was on staff at Concordia University of Edmonton from 2006 to 2016 as a voice instructor, Manager and Program Coordinator of Concordia's School of Music. Mireille served as Pro Coro Canada's Executive Director until October 2019 after serving as General Manager since September 2016. She had sung with the professional choir since 2001, and joined the board as a singer's representative from 2003 to 2014. Mireille is a member of ARMTA (Alberta Registered Music Teachers Association), ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists and NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing).

Section break
Don Ross

Don Ross

Clarinetist Don Ross plays some 150 shows a year, split between classical, jazz, world and experimental music. He plays regularly with such groups as Saint Crispin's Chamber Ensemble, the Gadjo Collective gypsy band, New Music Edmonton, the Alberta Symphony, Crescendo Orchestra, Opera Nuova, The Billie Zizi Swing Band, Mile Zero Dance and many others. He teaches clarinet at the University of Alberta, MacEwan, King's, Concordia and MusiCamp Alberta. His work as a composer and project leader have won multiple grants from the Canada Council, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Edmonton Arts Council. Previous board experience was with the Alberta Band Association, the Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society (amaas) and fifteen years as president of the Boreal Electroacoustic Music Society (BEAMS). He holds music degrees from the Universities of Alberta and Toronto and from Northwestern in Chicago.


Scott Shpeley

Scott is a teacher, actor, and multi-instrumentalist. He holds a Bachelor of Education from Concordia University of Edmonton and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Alberta. He currently teaches Drama, Musical Theatre, Technical Theatre, and Graphic Arts at Percy Page High School. As a professional actor, Scott has been part of many Canadian premieres of new work, toured across Canada, performed in London, England, and performed Off-Broadway with Catalyst Theatre's Nevermore. His awards include a Betty Mitchell Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy and a City of Edmonton Arts and Cultural Performance Award for his performance of Edgar Allan Poe in Catalyst Theatre's Nevermore. Scott is honoured to be part of this board and looks forwarding to contributing to the excellent community of artists in Edmonton. 


Suzanne Thomas

A lawyer since 1998, Suzanne practiced law for 13 years before transitioning to law firm management and human resources. Currently, Suzanne works at Dentons Canada LLP where she is responsible for recruitment and development of lawyers and students. Suzanne's passion is coaching and mentorship, and she enjoys working with people to help them achieve their professional and personal goals. Outside of work, Suzanne's pastimes tend to focus on arts and culture in all forms. She loves to attend theatre productions of all sizes. and is also a frequent attendee of opera and dance productions. Her main interest, though, is attending concerts. In recent months, Suzanne has focused her attention on supporting local venues and artists who have been hit hard by the pandemic. She has been known to travel to other cities to indulge her partiality towards alternative music and bands from the 80s & 90s. Suzanne lives with her two children, both of whom are involved in the arts (one is a writer, and the other is a recent graduate of the MacEwan Music Theatre program) and their two cats.


Standing Board Members

Erica Hummel – EEDC representative
Nicole Poirier – City of Edmonton representative

In addition to the EAC Board, the EAC has three standing, two advisory and three ad-hoc committees of the Board. For more information about the EAC committees, click here

eac weekly

Subscribe to our newsletter and get updates on events and information

Click here

Looking for arts space?

twitter facebook instagram youtube tumblr
Edmonton Arts Council • Prince of Wales Armoury, 2nd Floor, 10440 108 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, T5H 3Z9 • info@edmontonarts.ca • p. 780.424.2787 | f. 780.425.7620