2019–2021
Performing Mentorship: Investigating Mentorship in 4 Arts for Social Change Creative Spaces and Contexts
Principal Investigator: Lynn Fels; 
Co-Investigator Jen Spiegel;
Community Investigators – Shira Taylor, Lisa Ndejuru, Callista Chasse, Nicole Armos;
Research Assistant – Marlies Grindlay;
SSHRC Insight Development Grant

Artists engaged in arts for social change (ASC) enable marginalized communities to create ideas and actions for meaningful change. ASC’s interdisciplinary nature requires mentorship that enables ASC practitioners to share and exchange knowledge in a sustainable, intergenerational way. Yet many Canadian ASC professionals are approaching retirement and young artists are increasingly required to draw upon their own experience and that of other young artists for professional development. Addressing this need is critical: mentorship can strengthen ASC scholarship, pedagogy, and knowledge exchange, thus increasing opportunities for ASC practitioners and their work to contribute to communities across Canada.

Conventional mentorship models do not reflect the organic style and creative nature of artistic practices. Central to reimagining mentorship in the arts is the notion of mentorship as performance,which may serve as a creative catalyst to empower and support social innovations in the arts. To understand the complexity of mentorship in the ASC practice and arts education pedagogy, this research will:

  • examine mentorship of youth arts facilitators for leadership development, youth empowerment, and community capacity building;
  • investigate a model of artist mentorship for developing and performing difficult stories;
  • identify new pedagogical strategies and artistic practices for mentorship of ASC artists, facilitators, and researchers
  • investigate how mentorship can better reflect the social and cultural realities and aspirations of emerging artists and activists.

We will undertake 4 field studies in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Cyberspace;. Each study engages different methodologies: 1) participatory action research; 2) case study and performative inquiry; 3) archival research with reflective interviews, and 4) mixed methods involving video and text analysis, interviews, and journal writing.

This research will take a four-prong approach:

  • Field Study 1 will employ participatory action research to explore how a youth theatre group may build sustainability, youth agency, and community capacity through mentorship in Toronto;
  • Field Study 2 will engage performative inquiry to explore mentorship as practiced and experienced by Lisa Ndejuru, leading to a performance in Montreal;
  • Field Study 3 will be a conceptualization of mentorship evolving from a project in social circus with community based organizations in downtown Winnipeg;
  • Field Study 4 will use the lens of reflective inquiry to understand how mentorship may be performed in digital space among the research team members.

The purpose is to study the theory and practices of performing mentorship from 4 perspectives, gathering information from 4 field studies situated in different performative spaces and contexts. Each field study will be led by collaborators who bring unique expertise and experience to the research. Findings from these research sites will be synthesized to inform our theorizing of mentorship as performance.

This study will contribute to our understanding of mentorship as reciprocal and generative. Theorizing of mentorship as performance will provide new language, relationships, and insights into the dynamics of mentorship within educational and creative spaces and expand dialogue on how performative research methods are viable alternatives for portraying artists’ engagement in educational and artistic inquiries. This research will prepare graduate students, early career scholars, and community professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to problem-solve and build professional relationships across diverse communities. Finally, it will offer new models of mentorship for ASC that foreground the fluidity and complexity of artistic practices in lights of social innovation.

SExT: Sex Education by Theatre, a field study of the SSHRC-funded Performing Mentorship project led by Dr. Shira Taylor is a culturally-inclusive, theatre-based, peer education workshop and performance program that engages youth on topics relating to sexual and mental health. Check out our series of COVID-19 videos, made 6 feet apart!

Follow SExT on Social Media @SExTEdShow INSTAGRAM ►https://www.instagram.com/SExTEdShow  FACEBOOK ►https://www.facebook.com/SExTEdShowTWITTER ►https://twitter.com/SExTEdShow


Best Vaxxed Friends:  It’s the #BestVaxxedFriends 👯💉 rolling up to tell you all about living your best vaxxed life!

It Wasn’t Me: A Quarantine Parody: 💫How did our cast cope with the disappointing news of our tour cancellation and the stress of a global pandemic😢? …By making a physically distanced parody of course🙂🤷🏽‍♀️!

Quarantine Dream: How do you envision our world post-pandemic? We asked our cast to share their Quarantine Dreams…and obviously, we had to sing 🎤 about it. SExT encourages YOU to reflect on YOUR pandemic experiences and share your ideas for a better future in the comments and on social media using #QuarantineDream.   

Captain Condom & The COVID-19 Conundrum (Toronto Fringe Trailer)


It’s a bag! It’s a balloon🎈! No, it’s (drum roll please) Captain Condom – Toronto’s most durable and oft-forgotten superhero🐱‍🏍! Join Captain Condom as they tackle their biggest challenge yet – some horny horny teens who’ve spent all of lockdown burning for each other. But while our teens have gotten used to wearing masks😷, evil lurks in our lovely couple’s unprotected Zoom call. A ragtag group of STIs – the Seriously Terrible Invaders – are trying to convince our teens to go rubberless! It’s up to our hero to save the day🎭🦸‍♀️!

Bro, There’s COVID Outside

🏡🌡️🦠 Stay safe over the holidays! Bro, there’s COVID outside! 🧍↔️🧍

Maskael Zoomblé’s Stay in your Bublé: 🎅 It’s the quarantine holiday playlist you never wanted 🤶


My Morning Routine with COVID-19
:  One of our cast members got COVID🦠😞. Here’s a re-enactment of his experience. Spoiler alert: COVID sucks for young people too. 🤒😥 

Protect Those Among Us from COVID-19https://youtu.be/3WEajUguhQQ


🤨Not wearing a mask is sus. Wear a mask and keep our community safe. 😷💕


Hot Girl Shhh 🔥https://youtu.be/a2mQ8gXhpLA This is the hot girl shhh🔥🥵 we’re bringing into Valentine’s Day this pandemic! 💓


Call an Ambulance… For Me! (When to go to the hospital when you have COVID-19): 


🚑 Call an ambulance when you have these symptoms from COVID-19! Remember to trust your gut and advocate for yourself.

COVID-19 Videos A series of videos made 6 feet apart. youtube.com

Note: This is a secure site visible only to the researchers and participators.