Updated: Sep 28, 2021
by Lisa Mackay
For the upcoming session of Rozsa Arts Fundamentals Training (RAFT)* this fall, the Rozsa Foundation and Arts Leadership Director Geraldine Ysselstein have hired Kodie Rollan and Toyin Oladele to be co-facilitators. “We have learned so much from the past few sessions,” explains Geraldine. “One of those learnings was how much stronger the program was with two facilitators. And since we are actively working towards enabling more equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism in the field of arts leadership, it made sense to invite Kodie and Toyin, with all of their arts leadership knowledge and lived experience, at the helm.”
Kodie Rollan is Artistic Associate with Chromatic Theatre in Calgary and has his master's degree in arts leadership from Queens University. Toyin Oladele is the Founder and Director of the Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation, and a practicing multi-disciplinary artist. She is also the project manager for the City of Calgary of the Public Arts in the NE part of Calgary.
Kodie was initially invited towards the end of 2019 for his dramaturgic expertise to update and tweak the dialogue in the RAFT case study. “Geraldine wanted it to be more realistic, and have more conflict and differences of perspective that we see in arts administration,” recalls Kodie. “But as we were working through it, there was lots of back and forth between Geraldine, Ayla (RAFT facilitator in 2020) and I. We ended up focusing on the goals of the program and expanding the scope of the dialogue.” Besides overseeing these changes in the case study, Geraldine quickly recognized the value that Kodie brought to the subject matter and asked him to join Ayla as a facilitator.
Kodie and Ayla taught three different online sessions from 2020-2021, and he says the program evolved with each one. “We learned something from every cohort,” he says. “Each session was updated to reflect this, from changing the Power Point to adding an extra half an hour to the sessions.” With Ayla moving over to working on the Rozsa Foundation Awards, the opening for a second facilitator was there, and Geraldine approached Toyin to gauge her interest. “I have been working with Toyin on other projects and knew she had a wealth of arts administration knowledge to draw from,” explains Geraldine. “I have witnessed her evolution as an artist and arts administrator since she took the RAFT program in 2019 and RAMP in 2019-2020 and invited her to bring that perspective to RAFT.”
“I really respect the intentionality and strategy of Geraldine and the Rozsa Foundation of updating the course and hiring two IBPOC facilitators,” says Toyin. “It’s important to acknowledge that there are other ways of thinking and doing in this field that might not match up with what was taught in school or practiced in colonialist-based organizations, and that these ways have professional value too and have garnered great results.”
“I also think that it will make a difference for participants,” adds Kodie. “Especially for people of colour, the process is more comfortable and meaningful when they see it being led by people who look like them. We also make a conscious effort to remove any hierarchy that traditionally comes with instruction. Yes, Toyin and I have a lesson plan, but we are peers with the participants; it’s a level playing field. This makes it more a knowledge-sharing experience where everyone can feel their own lived experiences are valued, and we can learn from each other.”
“This can build so much confidence for IBPOC arts leaders,” agrees Toyin. “And that makes them more effective at their job and creates a deeper impact in their communities. I think the next step for he Rozsa Foundation is to make sure that their message is getting to more diverse artists and managers in the city. The Rozsa programs are such a deep and powerful resource for arts leaders, I wish so many more people in Calgary knew about it.”
Applications will be accepted through the rest of August for the October session, with a closing date of September 3. Online classes begin October 3, 2021. For all the details and to apply visit rozsafoundation.org/raft. Kodie and Toyin are both looking forward to meeting the next cohort of RAFTers. “I am interested to see what this group brings to the class!” enthused Toyin. “It’s going to be fun,” agrees Kodie.
*The RAFT (Rozsa Arts Fundamentals Training) program is the introductory level program in our suite of arts leadership offerings, created for those beginning their career in arts administration. Applications for RAFT close September 3 and the first class is October 5. The next, intermediate level program is RAMP (Rozsa Arts Management Program) which is presented in partnership with the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, which is currently accepting applications until August 13 and beginning September 30. The advanced level program is REAL (Rozsa Executive Arts Leadership) which will begin in January or February 2022.
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