Thursday, February 25 - Panel Discussion #1

9:00am - 9:45am

Sponsorship Post Pandemic

Session Description: Festivals and Events are in a tough spot when it comes to reaching out to donors, especially corporate donors. Every company is busy, concerned about the future and laser-focused on business continuity. And, many corporations just don’t have the resources to support charitable work in the same way as they did before.

Join our panel of experts for tips and tricks to reengage partners and explore for new opportunities as we get back to fundraising for our events.

Speaker Bios:


Brad McCabe is the Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Sponsor Circle. Brad is passionate about the sponsorship and events industries. With over 20 years’ experience working with attractions, events and brands, Brad applies his sponsorship and brand activation knowledge to serve an array of brands, events and causes. Through Sponsor Circle’s technology solutions for the sponsorship industry, Brad aims to solve a common issue found in the industry – cutting through the noise to find the right sponsorships to deliver on strategic objectives. Brad has been integral in leading organizations through transformative changes in structure, engagement and revenue development. In his spare time, he sits on CNE’s Strategy & Policy Committee and coaches youth rugby.

Victoria Syme has been securing media coverage, sponsors, experiential marketing partners, government grants, and marketing for festivals and events in Toronto for the past 8 years. She has worked extensively on the annual Redpath Waterfront Festival, Sugar Shack TO, the ONTARIO 150 and TALL SHIPS® 1812 Tours, as well as the Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games. Victoria was also instrumental in bringing the World’s Largest Rubber Duck throughout Ontario in 2017. Victoria started her career at a large public relations agency in Toronto where she worked on clients such as CBC, EXPRESS, AGO and SUBWAY Canada. She has an HBA in Communications from McMaster University and a Post-Graduate diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Communications from Centennial College.


George Andreopoulos is passionate about the work of associations and nonprofits. An experienced relationship-builder, he has spent more than 20 years helping associations and community groups advance their missions and find new ways to grow revenue. Working with a highly motivated, creative group of sales, marketing and event professionals, George has overseen the implementation of countless sponsorship sales and marketing campaigns for a diverse set of organizations and industry sectors.

Michael Bleau As Co-founder and CEO of EventHub, a sponsorship platform for events across Canada and the US, Michael works with hundreds of festivals, fairs, and expos – many of whom have been forced to go virtual or hybrid for 2020 and 2021. Michael’s company launched a virtual expo platform in 2020 to allow event organizers to provide a truly engaging and interactive experience for virtual event attendees while executing rich sponsorship deliverables. He is an expert on sponsorship and virtual/hybrid event production, and has led dozens of keynote sessions on event marketing, sponsorship, and production nationwide and has recently led expert Zoom panels on best practices in the face of Covid-19 for thousands of event organizers since the pandemic began.soon

9:45am - 10:30am

Government Grants and Keeping Pace With What Funding is Available

Session Description: All levels of government have taken immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadians. But is it enough?

Join our panel as we discuss what grants are available in the Festival and Event world, supporting business through the pandemic and into recovery.

Speaker Bios:

Luanne Smith is a Senior Program Consultant in the Investment and Development Office with the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. Since 2012, Luanne has been one of the leads for Celebrate Ontario and the new Reconnect Festival and Event Program. Working with tourism advisors and stakeholders across the province, Luanne provides advice and guidance to festival and event organizers throughout the grant application process and cycle. Luanne gained a federal perspective on funding programs at FedDev Ontario where she spent two years working on the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

Thursday, February 25 - Panel Discussion #2

Michael Harker While studying statistics and marketing in university, Michael established an event marketing research firm in his early twenties and became a leader in his field.  More recently, he has served as executive director of Community Researchers, a nonprofit organization engaging young researchers to undertake community improvement projects.  As a part-time professor for more than a decade, Michael instructed hundreds of graduate students in grant-writing.  He is also an innovative fundraiser who likes to raise thousands of dollars for good causes on his birthday each year.

Martin Roy For four years, Martin Roy has managed Festivals and Major Events Canada (FAME), a pan-Canadian coalition representing some 500 festivals and events of all sizes through direct and affiliated membership with regional/provincial associations in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes. With FAME, Martin advocates for the interests of the festivals and events industry; working closely with the Government of Canada, Ministers (Canadian Heritage in particular), Members of Parliament and parliamentary committees, as well as various partners and third parties. In addition to his role at FAME, for ten years Martin has been the CEO of le Regroupement des événements majeurs internationaux (RÉMI), in Québec - an association consisting of about 30 large member events.

Manfred Fast is currently a Community Investments Director at the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $108 million to 629 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario. Manfred leads a team of 7 Program Managers covering the North Region from York through to Northern Ontario. Manfred was actively involved in the successful 2022 Canada Summer Games bid awarded to Niagara, is an avid adult hockey player and appreciates and participates in festivals and events throughout our wonderful province.

Thursday, February 25 - Panel Discussion #3

10:30am - 11:15am

Partnering With Different Sectors

Session Description: Since the escalation of the COVID-19 crisis FEO continues to join weekly conference calls with industry stakeholders. These meetings are designed to disseminate information that we have received, give top line information on our industry consultations and the latest news from government and our partners.

Join our panel of sector experts who will lead and guide the discussion on how we can all work better together.

Speaker Bios:


Rebecca MacKenzie Rebecca is the President & CEO of the Culinary Tourism Alliance - a not-for-profit destination development and marketing organization that is bridging the gap between the food, drink, hospitality, and tourism industries.

Troy Young became CEO of Attractions Ontario in 2004.  Prior to that, he was a Policy Advisor for two Ministers of Tourism and the Minister of Consumer and Business Services where he was responsible for Beverage Alcohol policy. Before his stint at Queen's Park, Troy was a municipal councilor and owner of a local newspaper.  In addition to his leadership of Attractions Ontario, he is a Course Director at York University in the Administrative Studies Department, teaching business and critical thinking.  He is a published author, writing horror, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary literature, and aims to become a full-time author.


Kay Matthews has been the Executive Director of the Ontario BIA Association, since 2011, representing 300+ BIAs in Ontario.  She has spent 30+ years in Community Development. Kay has overseen three Accessibility Projects for OBIAA, the Investment of BIAs Project and two Ontario’s Digital Main Street Grant Project.  Kay speaks at various events, facilitates Strategic Planning as well as teaches Governance to BIAs. She additionally has organized and executed large scale events such as the Bread and Honey Festival, Mississauga's Carassauga and Santa Claus Parades and the annual BIA Conference.

Grace Sammut Grace is the Executive Director at Resorts of Ontario a provincial marketing organization representing the resort sector. Resorts of Ontario was instituted in 1942 by independent resort owners. We represent 100 Resorts (SME’s) a diverse range of Resort Hotels, Traditional Lodges, Cottage Resorts and Country Inns. She leads the Resorts of Ontario Association which exists to promote and represent the diverse interests of the resort industry to drive economic benefits for the industry.


Julie Dabrusin Elected as the Member of Parliament for Toronto–Danforth in 2015, Julie has developed expertise in various areas of government. Julie has worked alongside the arts and creative industries as the Chair of the Canadian Heritage Committee and now serves as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.