York U student joins provincial advisory group on culture development

Tanya Matanda
Tanya Matanda

A second-year York University student will represent the voice of youth and diversity on a new advisory group that will steer the direction of cultural development in the province.

Tanya Matanda
Tanya Matanda

Tanya Matanda, 22, was recruited by Michael Coteau, Ontario’s minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, to sit on the Culture Strategy Advisory Group. She is the youngest member to sit on the committee, which held its inaugural meeting on Sept. 24.

The mandate of the advisory group is to solicit expertise and diverse perspectives on the role of culture in Ontario, and offer advice to the province on the government’s culture strategy.

Matanda has been a volunteer with the City of Toronto for the last three years, and has also done volunteer work with the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). She came to Toronto four years ago from Zimbabwe, and has a keen interest in cultural and art-based initiatives that work to stimulate social and economic growth.

She is now in her second year at York University studying international development and economics.

Matanda said she was approached by Coteau after she sat on an advisory committee for the AGO exhibit Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. At that time, he asked for her input on the old Ontario Place site. Following that exchange, Coteau contacted Matanda to ask if she’d join the Culture Strategy Advisory Group.

“He phoned and asked me to join the advisory committee to bring a youth perspective, and also a diversity perspective, about how culture is being consumed,” said Matanda.

The inaugural meeting on Sept. 24 brought Matanda together with 16 others who are well-established in the arts and culture sector, including Randy Lennox, president, Entertainment Production and Broadcasting at Bell Media; Chris McDonald, executive director of Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival; and Francisco Alvarez, executive director of Heritage Toronto.

“Everyone else … has such a wealth of knowledge and perspectives,” she said. “From that, I can have an accelerated growth experience.”

She said her studies in international development have equipped her with the language to convey her thoughts and make meaningful contributions to the discussion.

Her specific interests will explore how to preserve culture and make it accessible, in an age of globalization when “everything is homogenized and watered down.”

“I’d like to see a lot more activity involving culture exchange” with an emphasis on areas outside of Toronto, she said.