Vanessa Richards

Lead Instructor
Community Capacity Building

Vanessa Richards works as a transdisciplinary artist facilitator initiating or contributing to cultural projects that move us towards life-affirming change. She wants to do this with you, with the courage, cooperation and the radical imagination required for these times. 

As an arts-based engagement facilitator, she has devised and delivered initiatives with universities, unions, cultural organizations, municipal governments and health care providers. Most recently, she has been working in the realm of social enterprise with Hollyhock Leadership Institute’s Social Venture Institute (SVI) conferences, transforming philanthropy with the Just Economy Institute and as an advisor to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) as they produce a comprehensive vision for Granville Island for the next quarter-century.

One of her pleasures is to advance imaginative thinking across disciplines. Vanessa has volunteered on a number of advisory committees, including Kwi Awt Stelmexw Language + Arts Society for the Squamish People, the City of Vancouver Black History Month Citizen’s Advisory, and as a founding director of the Hogan’s Alley Society. Currently, she offers support to Solid State Community Industries and the Black Arts Centre in Surrey, the first of its kind in B.C. 

Intergenerational commitments have seen her as a director of the Performing Arts Lodge, affordable housing for artists in their senior years, as well as Arts, Roots, Community (ARC) School for elementary-aged children that centres Black and Indigenous knowledge systems. 

In performance, Vanessa has worked in music, film and television. For her theatre work, she has been nominated for a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award. As an artistic director she has devised public celebrations and arts education programs in Vancouver and in the U.K.

Her poetry and critical works have been anthologized in the U.K., the Netherlands, the U.S. and Canada. For 11 years until the impact of COVID, she was the founder and song leader of a drop-in community choir open to all voices and at no cost.

Poetry and music play a central role in the way she facilitates in the Community Capacity Building Certificate program.

Educationally, she earned an MPhil in creative writing at Cardiff University and has continued formal and informal training in somatics, social justice, community culture and urbanisms. 

For her work in community engagement, Vanessa was the 2018 recipient of the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Achievement Award.

She believes in you.