Founders of Rhombus Media are calling it quits – sort of

This week, Rhombus Media founders and former York students Niv Fichman, Barbara Willis Sweete, Larry Weinstein (BFA ‘80) and Sheena Macdonald (BA ’77) confirmed they’re getting a divorce after almost three decades of producing some of Canada’s most acclaimed performance arts programming and art house cinema, wrote The Globe and Mail April 26.

But here’s the catch: While Macdonald (president of international distribution) is completely severing ties to take a senior position at the Canadian Film Centre, the other three will continue working together in the same Toronto office, co-own the 200-title library and cover the yearly overhead – but each will set up their own production house operating under the Rhombus banner that will have no financial ties to each other, wrote the Globe. The remaining three partners – who met in their early 20s after leaving film school at York – readily admit the new arrangement is, well, a little odd.

Weinstein says the prospect of signing a separation agreement made them realize they all still loved what Rhombus stood for (high-calibre arts programming), and couldn’t fathom ripping apart (or selling) a library of films that each was fiercely proud of. So, on the verge of the split, they decided to launch three distinct production units – under the Rhombus Media roof. "Once we started talking, we realized we did still have a lot in common," Weinstein adds. "It’s almost like we’re finally growing up."

Non-residents provided bulk of campaign money

Most of the money behind Barrie Mayor Dave Aspden’s winning election campaign last November came from outside Canada’s fastest-growing city, wrote The Globe and Mail April 26. The large number of donors from outside the municipality is "surprising, but it is not unique," said Robert MacDermid, a political science professor at York’s Faculty of Arts, who studies election finance. It is more unusual that money would flow from outside into a smaller municipality such as Barrie. Since much of the outside money going to Aspden’s campaign appears to come from development and construction industry sources, he speculated that there was an organized effort to raise it.

Dance guru wants to bring his work to the countryside

At one time in the distant past, Tedd Robinson (BFA ‘79) was a member of a company, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, wrote the Toronto Star April 26. A five-foot, six-inch man who came late to dance, he must have stood out. He soon began choreography and became the company’s artistic director in 1984. Solo performances may be the most vivid aspect of Robinson’s dance career, but they are certainly not the only way he’s become an important figure in Canadian contemporary dance.

He has choreographed solos for Peggy Baker (a classmate and now guest instructor at York’s Faculty of Fine Arts), Louise Lacavalier, York alumna Denise Fujiwara (BFA ’79) (with whom he shares the bill in tonight’s DanceWorks show) and Margie Gillis, and is a good match with these prima dancers. He has been called "the Buster Keaton of dance," by Le Groupe Dance Lab’s Peter Boneham, who has been Robinson’s mentor since 1989.

Smuggling sentence too lenient, critics say

A man who smuggled a nine-year-old boy from India into Canada was fined just $5,000 – a sentence upheld on appeal this month but one that critics say sets an excessively lenient precedent, wrote The Globe and Mail April 26. A small but growing refugee population known as unaccompanied minors are arriving here and seeking asylum. They are sometimes smuggled into Canada without their parents, or sent ahead with friends or relatives. In the past five years, an estimated 1,087 unaccompanied minors have made claims in Canada, less than 1 per cent of the total claims in this period, according to a 2006 report published by York’s Centre for Refugee Studies.

On air

  • Paul Delaney, physics & astronomy professor in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the discovery of a potentially habitable planet, on CTV Newsnet and CBC Newsworld April 24.