Board of Directors
Founder and President
Barrie Mowatt has a long and accomplished history as an educator, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, having opened the Buschlen Mowatt Fine Art Gallery in Vancouver in 1979. Barrie is the visionary behind the Vancouver Biennale, where he combines his passion for art, education and community service in exhibitions that bring great art to public spaces where people live, work, play and transit, free for all to enjoy, explore and be inspired by. Barrie is also the founder of the Celebration of Hope Foundation, co-founder of Taste the Nation, and the Buschlen Mowatt Scholarship Program at Arts Umbrella. Barrie received the Vancouver Business in Arts Award from the Vancouver Board of Trade, and the Ethics in Action Award, presented by Vancouver City Savings and the BC Work Ministry. He has twice been nominated for Western Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of Socially Responsible Businesses.
John Harrison is currently the President of Inter-City Gas Ltd. John, who retired in 2009 from his position of elementary school principal with the Burnaby School District, began his education career as an upper intermediate teacher. He has also worked with the UBC Faculty of Education as a Faculty Associate and Social Studies Curriculum Instructor, and with Simon Fraser University as a Faculty Associate. During his tenure as an educator, John developed learning resources for teachers in literature and critical thinking. He also presented workshops for educators in conflict resolution, creating cohesive and caring school communities, and building leadership capacity. John recently completed a diploma in Sustainable Community Development at SFU City Program.
A classically trained pianist, music educator, and music-education advocate, Murray Nichol is an examiner for Royal Conservatory Examinations in Canada and the United States. As a Vancouver Biennale educational advisor and program advocate, he has been integrally involved in outreach and the development of the Biennale’s International Residency Program, which boasts numerous alumni on several continents. He acts as a Biennale Ambassador on his many travels and assists with the management of the Biennale’s archives and inventory. Murray is also a director of the Buschlen Mowatt Nichol Foundation, a philanthropic foundation whose focus is on lifelong learning, education, and the arts.
After a very happy and successful 20 years in Vancouver, Miriam Blume is now enjoying the California lifestyle in Palm Desert. She is an accomplished marketing and communications consultant with experience in both the profit and non-profit sectors. After an early career in the corporate world learning best-in-class brand management, marketing, and media relations, Miriam’s next career move was inspired by her love of art. She has spent the past dozen years working with independent artists and arts organizations to build their business strategy, brand identity, audience engagement, and funding. She has worked on several high-profile projects—most notably SweaterLodge, the Canadian entry to the 2006 Venice Biennale of Architecture—and held a full-time position at the Vancouver Biennale as Director of Marketing and Business Development. She has been a keynote speaker at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, and has attended major art fairs, festivals, and biennale exhibitions worldwide.
Jesse Saniuk is the Vice President and co-owner of the real-estate brokerage Four Sails Realty Inc. based in West Vancouver. He has a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in African studies from the University of British Columbia. He is also a collector of contemporary art with a particular interest in sculpture. It is a combination of his passion for real estate, history, and art that led him to his ownership of the B.C Binning House (a National Heritage Site of Canada), which he is currently working to restore with the hopes of preserving it as a private museum with public accessibility. Jesse is a former member of the Vancouver Biennale’s Young Ambassadors group.
Marty Hasselbach is a successful CEO with experience in stakeholder relations and communication including institution to consumer, industry, and government; regulatory body to industry, consumer, and government; and board of directors to agency, consumers, and government. He has over thirty years’ experience working on executive teams with a focus on business/educational metrics, change management, and program development. A transformational leader, he has conducted many needs analyses and departmental reorganizations at both management and support department levels. As Managing Director of Vancouver Film School for over 15 years, Marty brought his entertainment production and private post-secondary education experience to the school. This blend of production knowledge and experience in private for-profit education is truly unique, and with his hands-on style and fervent desire to “get things right,” he can walk into a classroom of students or a boardroom of financial analysts with equal ease and understanding. His knowledge and executive leadership expertise in technology have led him to pivotal CEO roles in the arts and tech sector over the last 5 years.
Skwetsimeltxw Willard (“Buddy”) Joseph
Having grown up on Squamish Nation Lands, Buddy Joseph is the former Director of Housing and Capital Projects for Squamish Nation. He is an artist, master weaver, and educator. He and his wife, Chief Janice George, co-founded L’hen Awtxw Weaving House to share the teachings and practice of traditional Coast Salish wool weaving. In 2017, he co-authored Salish Blankets – Robes of Protection and Transformation, Symbols of Wealth with Chief Janice George and Lesley Tepper. Having co-founded the M̓i tel’nexw Leadership Transformation, a three-part online seminar designed to share teachings of Indigenous resilience, he continues to consult on capital projects for First Nations communities. He was one of several artists who participated in the Vancouver Biennale’s Weaving Cultural Identities and Threads Through Time weaving exhibitions. In September 2021, he became the Vancouver Art Gallery’s inaugural Elder in Residence.
Shahrzad is currently an architect/designer with Rafii Architects Inc., a Vancouver architectural firm offering comprehensive services in architecture, urban design, planning, and interior design. Their extensive portfolio includes many projects throughout Greater Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Alberta, and the United States. She holds a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Toronto and a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch. Having immigrated to Canada over ten years ago, she has established strong ties in Metro Vancouver’s Persian community. As a result of these community connections, the Neekoo Philanthropic Society, a registered not-for-profit organization established by a group of Iranian-Canadian professionals, has helped fund the Vancouver Biennale’s International Residency Program.
Having been born in the Philippines, Virginia immigrated to Vancouver at a young age. Her career has been guided by a sense of purpose and a drive to contribute to her community: she began by working with those facing mental health challenges in a community-based outreach centre. Later, she took a role as Executive Director of the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association. Subsequently she was invited to serve as administrative support to the Premier of British Columbia. Her role for the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and World Trade Centre Vancouver focused on supporting local businesses create trade and investment connections with international priority markets. Virginia is married and has two sons in their early 20s.