This is VIBE Spotlight: a weekly series that celebrates and shines a light on VIBE Arts’ roster of talented artists and now the members that make up our small but mighty team. Each Monday, our Instagram and website will feature a different VIBE staff member and provide a look into the VIBE community. Stay tuned and get to know our organization and community with #VIBESpotlight.
On this VIBE Staff Spotlight were shining a light on Raven Lam. raven is an explorer, thinker and arts worker investigating what it’s like to be human through the arts, psychoanalysis, and generally wandering about. Currently a student at the Centre for Training in Psychotherapy in Toronto she is constantly looking to share and consume knowledge with others. She has been an active part of the Toronto arts sector for over 8 years, presently holding two leadership positions as a General Manager for VIBE Arts, and the Executive Director of Whippersnapper Gallery. Her background is primarily in community arts and gallery operations working with collectives such as the Black Womxn Artists, NIA Centre, and galleries such as Ryerson Artspace, Georgia Scherman Projects, and the Gardiner Museum. raven holds a Bachelors from Ryerson University, and is recipient of the G44 Outreach award presented by Gallery 44 and Toronto Image Works (2018) for her photography work.
VIBE: What is your role at VIBE?
raven: I’m the General Manager at VIBE which means I work very closely with Katie, our lovely ED, and am responsible for a lot of the day-to-day runnings of the charity. I also get the privilege of working at the intersection of our operations team, programming team, and fund development team to ensure they have everything they need and all the more efficient systems to do what they do best and serve our communities!
VIBE: What led you to the arts?
raven: I actually really wanted to be a visual artist when I was younger, then an animator, and then a filmmaker. I ended up going to school for Media and landed a job as a Media Coordinator at the school’s gallery and really fell in love with it! I ended up becoming the Exhibition and Programming Coordinator and essentially was running the space. I’ve always had a really hard time creating my own art pieces, expression generally has been a bit of a struggle but being able to assist people in making their visions come to life was something I found really beautiful and that I was actually really good at! Now I balance this job with being the Executive Director of Whippersnapper Gallery (a tiny gallery space in Kensington market), and I get to be a part of two really incredible communities of artists, curators, community members, participants, etc. Truly am inspired on a daily basis.
VIBE: What has been one of your favourite moments at VIBE?
raven: I was able to be involved in a project we did with ArtStarts and the Gardiner Museum called Hair We Are. I was able to do some photography work and also work as a curator for an exhibition that came out of conversations and self care workshops done with a group of girls ages 14-17. I don’t get the opportunity to go to programs a lot, or be involved with them on that deep of a capacity but just being able to hang out with the group, listen to their stories of family or school or friend drama, take there photos, and ultimately make their vision of the show come to life at a museum like the Gardiner was very rewarding.
VIBE: What is something you’re looking forward to in the future at VIBE?
raven: We are currently getting the opportunity to make some big changes to our workspace at 401 Richmond Street West (details coming soon). It’s a rare time – as a charity we get to do something like this, and to be able to have safe in person moments with the staff again, sharing snacks, drinking tea, and working in a beautiful space is something I’m so excited for.
VIBE: What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned thus far?
raven: A valuable lesson I have learned is the quality of people you work with will be the deciding factor between making working for a good cause feel like a struggle, or making a good cause feel energized. I am really grateful to work with the team I do, and be able to interact with the artists, community members and participants I do.
VIBE: What changes would you like to see in Toronto’s Art community?
raven: I would like to see more conversations happen across the sector, artists to large organizations, community members to DIY arts collectives, funders to ad hoc collectives, etc. I think there is such a strengthening that comes with the sharing of knowledge and experience especially when it can be done in an intimate setting that allows for the throwing out of ideas, experimentation, and play. I would love to see more of that versus the hoarding, competitiveness and separatism that can emerge in this sector and many others.
Stay tuned for more VIBE Staff on VIBE Spotlight