Meet The Nextfest Team

Welcome! If you’ve been wanting to get to know our team better, you’ve come to the right place.

We are a group of art-loving folks who are passionate about creating space for emerging artists in Edmonton/amiskwacîwâskahikan (ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ), Canada, and all across the globe. Our team, along with the amazing Theatre Network team, is here to help usher in the next generation of creators, producers, and artistic risk-takers.

Did you know? A majority of us are Nextfest Alumni, meaning that we got our start in the same place that all Nextfesters start, in the spotlight or dancefloor of the Roxy Theatre. Learn more about our journey on our About Us page.

Our Staff

We have a small team of passionate staff members that make Nextfest happen each and every year. If you’ve been to Nextfest before, you might recognize their faces as they practically live in the Roxy during the first week of June every year.

 

Simone A. Medina Polo

Festival Producer

Simone A. Medina Polo (she/her) is the festival producer of the Nextfest Arts Company. Overall, Simone is an all-over-the-place kind of person.

At times a philosopher, at others an interdisciplinary artist, and often a community organizer based out of Amiskwaciwâskahikan in Treaty 6 territory. Informed by her experience as an immigrant mestizo trans woman, her work in philosophy has centred around theories and practices of emancipation (if you ask her, she will literally not shut up about it). Simone is also known by her hyperpop production moniker, pseudo-antigone. Want to chat? Email me at simone@nextfest.ca.

 

 

Ellen Chorley

Festival Director/Theatre Curator

Ellen Chorley (she/her) is Nextfest’s Festival Director and Theatre Curator. Ellen has had many “first times” with Nextfest including her first time in High School Nextfest (in 2001), her first time as a professional playwright (in 2003), her first time roving as a character (in 2007), her first time performing burlesque (in 2010) and her first time curating High School Nextfest (2012-2016). When not being the Festival Director the BEST EDMONTON FESTIVAL THIS SIDE OF SUMMER, Ellen is a playwright, producer, performer, director, and theatre educator.

Ellen teaches acting and playwrighting through the Citadel Theatre and is an Artistic Associate with Northern Light Theatre. Ellen believes that arts education is vital to the development of young people and she is passionate about using the medium of theatre to create community and belonging. Ellen also believes that both ranch and pineapple belong on pizza and that the best book ever written is “Wuthering Heights” (Ellen has 107 copies of the book-weird collection, I know).

You can learn more about Ellen on her website www.ellenchorley.com or shoot her an email at ellen@nextfest.ca

 

Reanna Pilkington

Marketing & Communications Manager/Artist Liason

Reanna (she/they) is the Marketing and Communications Manager and Artist Liason for the Nextfest Arts Company. By day Reanna works in the communications industry in Amiskwaciwâskahikan and at night they immerse themselves in local art in any way they can. Their first experience with Nextfest was back in 2012 when they submitted their first play, Aquilegia, as part of NEXTNextfest (Fun Fact: Ellen was their curator).

They are an introverted Sagittarius that loves Tarot, cross-stitching, cows, poetry, and good espresso. Have questions about the festival, want to get in touch about our communications/marketing, or have a haiku that you’d like to share? Email me at reanna@nextfest.ca.

 

 

SCOTT PETERS

PRODUCTION MANAGER

Scott is resident Production Manager for Theatre Network and Nextfest, and is a founding member of Edmonton band Captain Tractor. “Why, I have not another tear to shed.”

 

Melanie Bahniuk

Associate Producer

Mel (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist and arts administrator on Treaty 6 territory, and currently residing in Edmonton! This is Mel’s fifth year with the most wonderful best-fest Nextfest in the entire land.

Since the panorama started, they have gained interests in crocheting, baking, painting by numbers, and taking long walks with her pup Finn. Mel is thrilled to be back with Nextfest curating their online workshops, and one-on-one mentorships! Follow me at @melbahniuk.

 

 

 

Steven Teeuwsen

Graphic Designer and Ad Sales

Steven Teeuwsen (he/him) is an Edmonton-based mural artist, sculptor, and designer. He is the mastermind behind the festival program design, ad sales, and mural management. Part-time santa, full-time art enthusiast, Steven is constantly making the world more beautiful with his art.

 

Our Curatorial Team

A small but mighty team, these arts experts choose the art that appears in each year’s festival. They provide mentorship and guidance for our emerging artists every step of the way. If you’ve seen a performance or work that you love at Nextfest, give one huge round of applause for the artist who created it and the curators who make it happen.

Their teamwork makes the dream work.

Rebecca Pickard

Visual Arts Curator

I (she/her) am so thrilled to be the visual art curator for Nextfest! A little about me, I am a painter, an art teacher, a joyful gardener, and a mother to two humans and one very large fur baby. I am a proud member of the Métis Nation of Alberta with family roots in Lac La Biche. After several years of living my passion teaching fine art to Jr high and Sr high students at Victoria School of the Arts, I took a consulting position with the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit education unit with the Edmonton Public School Board. As a teacher consultant, I get to create and develop resources to support school administrators and teachers in delivering Indigenous Education in the classroom.

I try to bring art into every aspect of this work because I believe art heals us, connects us, and communicates a truth like nothing else can. It takes courage to be an artist in today’s world, and I’m here to support you and celebrate you in your journey. Reach out to me at rebeccapickard21@gmail.com.

 

Olivia Street

Music Curator

Over the past 15 years, Olivia (she/her) has worked in many different areas of the music industry, as both an artist and on the industry side. Since graduating from the University of Alberta with a Master’s Degree in English, she has worked as a music journalist, a talent buyer in live venues, and a festival curator, while also self-managing her own music career as a performer and songwriter.

In 2017, she took on the role of Communications and Outreach Coordinator at Alberta Music, the provincial non-profit industry association. In 2020, she became an A&R Associate with Bent River Records, MacEwan University’s record label, and also launched her own fledgling record label and artist consultation business, Crystal Baby Music. Olivia loves dogs and is highly susceptible to infomercials.

 

Crystal Eyo

Associate Music Curator

Crystal Eyo (she/her) is Nextfest’s new Associate Music Curator. She is the vocalist for the band Mercy Funk and a Communications Specialist who supports various non- and for-profit organizations in Edmonton and beyond!

 

Kimberly Jev

Dj Curator

Kimberly Jev (she/her) is an artist manager, communications professional, and community organizer. She DJs as Kimleestar and throws events with Afros in tha City, a grassroots organization she leads in Calgary that’s all about creating visibility for black performers.

 

Katie Cutting

Film Curator

Katie (she/her, they) is an award-winning filmmaker, photographer, storyteller, and trans activist based in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton). Since moving to the area over 15 years ago, she has worked with countless community organizations and businesses, always focused on bringing underrepresented voices to wider audiences. Her company Lazy Kitten Productions has created a number of documentary films and web series, including A Long Road to Peace (2018), Queer Scouts: The Documentary (2019), For Want of a Home (2015), and Big Sky Life: Big Sky Stories (2019). She is currently producing one feature documentary and one feature narrative film.

Katie lives with her fiancée Kaylee and her tail-less rescue cat Rosie. She’s a marathon nap-taker (Katie, not Rosie), and is obsessed with one day building and living in an earthship.

 

 

Jennifer Peebles

High School Curator

Hey all! I’m Jen (she/her), the Nextfest High School Curator #bestjobever. I get to work with and showcase the new works of high school-aged up-and-coming emerging artists from around the city (and further).

A little known fact (ok maybe not so little known) is that I LOVE dill pickles, but they have to be Bics and baby dill, with garlic.

 

 

 

 

Becky Sadowski

Dance Curator

Hey friends! My name is Becky (she/her) and I curate the dance programming for Nextfest. I am a new member of the Good Women Dance Collective and I love to work with theatre and film artists in Edmonton, too!

A fun fact about me is that I am slightly obsessed with geography. Also, I like cats. Have a wonderful time exploring the virtual festival this season!

 

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