My name is Jessa Agilo.
I am an interdisciplinary arts producer, designer, creator, researcher, educator, advocate, and social entrepreneur based in Toronto, Canada.
After more than three decades in arts and culture, I am in the midst of revitalizing my passion for creativity and community-building in response to deeply-rooted systemic barriers on-the-ground and in-the-cloud.
Most recently, I am honoured to have been selected as a 2019 fellow at Toronto Arts Council’s Cultural Leaders Lab. In the broader arts community, I have founded and am currently leading several initiatives:
- ArtsPond is a non-profit devoted to propagating a new normal in the facility of multidisciplinary Canadian arts services to collectively eliminate systemic socioeconomic barriers for vulnerable arts and cultural workers from diverse backgrounds.
- Groundstory is a collective impact effort to uproot the effects of gentrification on the arts and other vulnerable, low-income groups in Ontario, supported by Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Trillium Foundation. Featured activities include an international literature review, cross-sectoral community outreach, Round the Block Podcast, and a personal, six-part investigative series, Gentrification Tales
- DigitalASO is a cross-sectoral effort to empower the transformation of digital arts services through digital literacy research, training, platform and alliance-building, including the second Digital Arts Services Symposium 2019 supported by Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Strategy Fund and Toronto Arts Council’s Open Door.
- Artse United is a proposed arts management platform cooperative serving both individual creators and producers and larger organizations across all disciplines in Canada.
- DigitalGO and DigitalGO Podcast is a two-year research initiative on emergent technologies and best practices relevant to the development of innovative digital arts services, supported by Canada Council for the Arts.
- ProduceYou is a two-year research project investigating tools and best practices in the development of effective artist-producer relationships, supported by Canada Council for the Arts.
- Arts Working Group is a research project investigating the potential of Charitable Venture Platforms / Shared Charitable Platforms to address systemic barriers for artists in Ontario, supported by Ontario Arts Council.
As an artist, I was also most recently involved in the following:
- Trees (from the series, The Bush): text and sound design for a full-evening integrated performance production choreographed by Gerry Trentham, produced by pounds per square inch performance. Premiere in Toronto, October 26-28, 2018. Some excerpts are available on Soundcloud.
- Gravity of Descent: sound design for a new adaptation of choreography from Gerry Trentham’s Gravity of Descent (1995). A work-in-progress showing was presented at Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre in February 2019 with performers Sylvie Bouchard and Learie McNicolls. The final work will premiere in Fall 2019.
Having devoted myself full-time to arts management and producing for nearly two decades, it has been an enjoyable shift to find a little time amongst my other activities to begin rekindling my own artistic practice in the past year. Being an integrated artist/composer was my first career in the culture sector in the 1990s, including honours from Gaudeamus (Amsterdam), SOCAN, and Vancouver New Music Competitions, Istvan Anhalt Award in Electroacoustics, and others. My teachers included John Burge, Marjan Mozetich, David Keane, Kristi Allik, Keith Hamel, Eugene Wilson, Nikolai Korndorf.
Devoted to radical inclusivity, I am a proud male-to-female transsexual who became a newborn for the second time in 2005.