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.”

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.

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 tech and Airtable wizard. He is working on upgrading the VEC’s sound & lighting system.

Bar Manager

Christine Richardson

Christine is enthusiastic about everything craft, from coffee to the perfect beer. When not managing the Victoria Event Centre she hones her cocktail talents and studies for her cicerone certificate. Christine has extensive managerial and hospitality experience between breweries, retail businesses, and hotels.

She leads with compassion and patience and continually works to improve and perfect her skills, often collaborating with industry professionals. Christine has a great appreciation for the arts and is passionate about cultivating safer spaces that preserves patron wellbeing and employee satisfaction.

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 and event coordination, fundraising and behind the bar.

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.

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.

Booking Coordinator / Admin

Elizabeth Piercey

Board

Board Member, 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

Nicole ‘Nikky E’ Ermineskin

Nicole ‘Nikky E’ Ermineskin is a nêhiyaw Mother, Interdisciplinary digital media artist, mentor, youth worker, recording / performing artist, and grassroots community organizer. Over the last 17 years she has explored and experimented with many facets of the music industry.

Nicole has a diploma in audio engineering and production, which lead to stage managing, hosting radio, organizing events, videography, frontline Indigenous resistance media/ journalism and following her childhood dream of becoming a professional recording and performing artist.

Displaced from her traditional homelands, Nicole grew up in East Van where she fought hard to walk this path despite all the challenges and systematic oppression placed upon her. Nicole hopes to inspire other young Indigenous youth to chase their dreams no matter their life circumstances and share their stories with the world, all while staying grounded and connected to Indigenous culture, language and ceremony.

Board Member

Kelly Newhook

Kelly was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, moving to Vancouver Island in 2000 and has made this island her home away from home ever since. Kelly has Bachelors degrees in Psychology and Social Work as well as a Masters of Social Work.

She spent seven years as the Executive Director of the local non-profit Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) and currently works for the provincial Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. Kelly is a life long lover of the arts and deeply appreciates the opportunity to serve on the board of the VEC.

Board Member

Carol-Lynne Michaels

Carol-Lynne first arrived in Victoria in 2009 and stumbled into the VEC almost immediately as a venue manager for the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Since then she’s been a volunteer, board member, bartender, renter and promoter of the space at large.

She has a background in communication and marketing, events, film and theatre production.  She is currently a presentation and storytelling coach, and also works as a Project Producer at The Number Creative.

Carol-Lynne also co-produces and is the co-artistic director of Confabulation Victoria, BC’s arm of a nationwide storytelling series, and enjoys the privilege of working with people from all walks of life to share their true stories on stage.

She envisions the VEC as a robust arts and cultural space for the community and is thrilled that the space is becoming more accessible and inclusive—further establishing itself as an integral part of a healthy community.

Board Member

Oryanna Ross

Most recently Ory was the Financial Administrator for the non profit society Island Mountain Arts, and has a background in Finance and Event Production, working on events both nationally and internationally. Ory graduated in 2015 from Camosun College with a diploma in Business Administration.

She is passionate about community, the arts, skill development, creativity through collaboration, a great live show and enjoying the outdoors.

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. Spencer is honoured to serve on the board of directors.

Board Caretaker since 2018, previously a board member

Stephen Portman

Stephen has worked for many years in the anti-poverty movement as a legal advocate and community organiser. He is also involved in Together Against Poverty Society, Retail Action Network, BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Island Solidarity and the Victoria Labour Council. His community work led him toward the VEC as a place where people working on progressive change can come together to celebrate community, laugh, dance and create.

Stephen hopes to bring equity, inclusivity and accessibility grounded in class analysis to his work at the VEC. In an increasingly unequal city, it is important to hold space for voices that are left out of the mainstream capitalist discourse and to make a space to create art, educate community, and mobilize around social and environmental injustice.