Staff and Board

Executive Director

Leyla Sutherland

Leyla Sutherland is a queer multidisciplinary artist and cultural worker with a background in theatre, media arts and project management. Her artistic practice includes performance creation, sound and audio walk design, and installation work and has been presented at OFFTA (Montreal), FAU (Erlangen, GER) and Théâtre aux Écuries (Montreal). She is a graduate of Concordia University (2018) and was most recently the Program Manager at the Independent Media Arts Alliance for the Digital Skills for Youth Program.

“My background is in community arts and theatre, so to find a space like the VEC feels almost too perfect to be true. I am deeply inspired by the grassroots history and ongoing support the venue has from the community, and I am passionate about maintaining and supporting the local music, performance and arts scenes through this beautiful space. This opportunity came at a time that I was looking to ground myself somewhere new, so to land somewhere with such strong roots feels very complimentary to that desire.”

General Manager

Christine Richardson

Christine can be seen at the VEC during most nights at the end of the bar working on her computer. She prioritizes being present in the space to support the front of house staff, oversee events and be available as a resource for patrons, performers and producers. Christine is continuously working to improve safer spaces practices and policies. She actively engages herself and the staff in various workshops covering training such as: harm reduction, gender based violence and bystander intervention.

Christine has extensive managerial, hospitality and financial experience between retail businesses, hotels and breweries. She strives to empower others, leading with compassion and patience. She has a great appreciation for the arts and is passionate about cultivating a protective space that nurtures self expression. In her spare time at work she enjoys coordinating a rotation of artwork in the venue and creating custom cocktails for events.

Tech Manager

Pete Mynett

Pete brings multiple years of experience in event production to the VEC, with a focus on live sound and production management. Previously a board member, he now brings his skills to the VEC team as a technician and arts administrator.

Booking Coordinator / Admin

Elizabeth Piercey

Elizabeth is a booking coordinator/admin at the VEC with multiple years experience in the event industry. She has a passion for performance and performs frequently on the VEC stage and across Canada as a burlesque and dance artist.

Bookings Manager

Eleanor Kschischang

Eleanor is an events coordinator with nearly a decade of live event experience. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, in Theatre Production & Design from York University where she studied event management, lighting design and new play dramaturgy.

After being immersed in many art forms throughout her life, Eleanor’s passion grew to facilitating safe spaces for expression and creativity. Through compassion and a strong sense of leadership, Eleanor’s goal is to empower conscious communities that support authentic artistic practice.

Promotions and Development

Samantha Duerksen

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Samantha Duerksen has become heavily involved in the non-profit arts scene in Victoria since her move in January 2020. In her work at several venues and arts/sustainability organizations, including at the Victoria Event Centre, she has been involved promotions, assisting in venue event coordination and fundraising.

With a degree in Film and a passion for music and arts herself, Sam loves to see communities come together at the VEC. Outside of the VEC, she teaches piano, jams in a band and has a passion for painting and design.

Bartender and Tech

Keith Williams (aka Keith Sonic)

Keith Williams has worked on and produced over a hundred shows at the VEC since 2010. Keith is regularly seen behind the bar or in the tech booth. You can also find him painting at Art Battle or bombing at a comedy show.

Board

Board President, Interim Executive Director summer 2022

Kurt Archer

Kurt served as Interim Executive Director at VEC in 2022. For the past 8 years Kurt ran TEDxYYC, one of Canada’s largest independently organized TED events in Calgary. He has over 15 years experience working in non-profits, with over 8 of those years working with Arts based organizations. In spring 2022, Kurt co-founded Shift Talks, a speaker and conversation series aimed at empowering ideas for our fast changing world.

Kurt also coaches speakers, and does communication consulting for small businesses and non-profits doing great work in the community. Kurt loves to work and be at the intersection of technology, climate issues, and art – which also inspires a lot of his Sci-Fi writing and theatre he does on the side.

Board Member

Shannon Hope

Shannon is an administrative professional with a passion for organization and working with Indigenous communities. Shannon holds a BA in Anthropology and Indigenous Studies from UVic and has called Victoria home for over 8 years. Her professional career has spanned the non profit sector, affordable housing, Indigenous language revitalization, international education, economic development, and travel and tourism. Shannon is currently a grant writing consultant working with nonprofits serving people with disabilities.

Shannon is an advocate for social and systemic change through education, community-building, and action. She is an avid supporter of the arts, regularly attending events at the VEC like burlesque, drag, Confabulation, concerts and comedy. Shannon is proud to serve on the board of this integral community gathering place where acceptance, inclusivity, affordability, creativity, and equity are centred and celebrated.

Board Member

Juan José Hidd

Juan’s purpose is about connecting people and building community. He believes in collaboration rather than competition and in creating a place of welcome for people from all walks of life. On a professional level, he has a background in Sociology and an MBA, which reflect in his warm approach to people paired with a focus on building things that can be of value to the community.

Juan currently works in technology and his consulting business, with a passion for building up organizations that are socially conscious & community-oriented. He loves hiking, running, and climbing, and is the father of two kids.

Board Member

Spencer Sacht-Lund

Spencer “Kanaka” Sacht Lund has worked in the Performing Arts for 15 years, with a career spanning across 4 countries and numerous departments. Primarily involved in production management and design, Spencer is a proud proponent of the VEC as an integral space for the performing arts in Victoria. He is honoured to serve on the board of directors.

Spencer also has experience as both a Secondary School Teacher, as well as a Sessional University Instructor.

He is a founding board member of the “Nanaimo Fringe Theatre Festival”

Board Member

Shayli Robinson

Known to many as their burlesque alter ego, Scarlett Hummingbird, Shayli Robinson is proudly queer and a Member of Lyackson First Nation, with lineage to the Lekwungen, Quwut’sun, and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh mustimuhw. She has an extensive volunteer background in non-profit boards & administration, performance art, and community engagement; and several years’ experience working with provincial government, Indigenous tourism & education, political organizations, and Coast Salish governance & administration. When they aren’t hamming it up on the VEC stage, she loves to nerd out over governance, art, policy, and Salish woolly dogs.

Shayli has been grateful to serve in a number of community-based roles: as a member of her Nation’s Comprehensive Community Planning Committee; board director and affiliated artist of The Hustler’s Art Collective; member of the Isle of Tease Burlesque Festival’s diversity and executive teams; member of Peers Victoria Resource Society’s Gender-Based Housing Advisory Committee; co-founder of ColorQoded Arts Collective; and board secretary then executive director of Victoria Poetry Project Society.