OISE alum works to support Toronto's flourishing arts and culture scene

February 4, 2019
OISE logo on a University of Toronto blue background.

Konrad Skorupa earned his Master of Education in Community Development in 2008. He is presently a Cultural Development Officer with the City of Toronto’s Cultural Partnerships Unit.

We sat down with Konrad to learn more about how he's contributing to Toronto's arts and culture scene.

What you are responsible for at Toronto's cultural partnerships office and what is most rewarding about the role?

As a Cultural Development Officer with the City of Toronto, I am responsible for administering cultural grants to Major Cultural Organizations in Toronto, including but not limited to the following: the Toronto International Film Festival, the Canadian Opera Company; the National Ballet School; the Art Gallery of Ontario; and Artscape. I also assist in administering a grant to the Toronto Arts Council, which supports artists and arts organizations serving Toronto. Working with these various cultural organizations and groups that support the arts in Toronto has and continues to be a major highlight of my job.

The development of cultural policy for Toronto has also been a major highpoint for me. I’ve had the privilege to assist in cultural policy that support various cultural plans (e.g. “Creative Capital Gains Report: An Action Plan for Toronto”) that shape Toronto’s cultural agenda and future strategy on a regional, national and international level.

I also find and maintain affordable cultural space for tenant arts organizations so that they can provide arts and culture services to the residents of Toronto. The ability to help these organizations and contribute to the local arts and cultural scene is just another major highlight of my career thus far.

You graduated with your master of education and specialized in community development. What drew you to OISE and not other faculties of education?

OISE is located in the heart of the most vibrant cultural city in Canada. I think its location is beneficial to being able to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. Moreover, OISE offers a broad range of courses that cater to individual interests that allow one to further their professional career and follow their particular interests. For instance, while I was at OISE, I was able to take courses in community organization and organizational leadership, which I found to be fairly hands-on and applicable to my current position and career in general.

Do you have a favourite memory from your time as a student?

I have several good memories from OISE; however, if I had to narrow it down to just one, I would choose my overall experiences in the course entitled “Aboriginal Knowledge”. By taking this course, I had the opportunity to visit the University of Toronto’s First Nations House and participate in a sage smudging ceremony. We met with the Elder-in-Residence and ate a traditional first-nations meal. It was definitely one of my most memorable experiences at OISE and fuelled my interest in learning about different cultures even more.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments, both personally and professionally?

My greatest accomplishment, both personally and professionally is my ability to say that I LOVE MY JOB. I love going to work every day. Although I wasn’t an individual who knew exactly what they wanted to do early on in their life, I did know that whatever it was it had to motivate me and be fun. There were people who told me that an arts degree would not get me anywhere. However, I pursued an OISE degree, followed my interests and was able to gain my dream employment.

What advice would you give to current OISE students?

Ask yourself what do you want to take away while attending OISE? Take courses that spark your interest and develop your sense of curiosity. Get involved with the OISE community, connect with fellow classmates, staff and alumni to maximize your learning opportunities.

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