Inside Out LGBTQ film festival has selected Lauren Howes (non-binary) as the new Executive Director for the organization. They take on the role which Andria Wilson stepped down from in September 2020. Howes’s role will take effect March 1.
In addition to being one of the largest LGBTQ film festivals on North America, Inside Out is the largest promoter and distributor of LGBTQ content in Canada. Howes is a veteran leader in the nonprofit world, bringing more than twenty years of experience to the role.
Prior to their new role, Howes was the Executive Director at the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre for the past 14 years. They have dedicated their career to providing creative support to filmmakers, previously sitting on the boards of the Toronto Arts Council, the Media Arts Network of Ontario, Independent Media Arts Alliance, the Toronto Media Arts Centre, as well as the streaming platform vucavu.com.
Through their work at the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, Howes substantially increased organizational capacity through fiscal growth, public programming and educational market development. They positioned CFMDC as a leader in independent media art distribution nationally and established a global presence in key markets in Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. They spearheaded the organization’s design and relocation to a purpose-built fully accessible media arts centre at TMAC, and most recently developed a Disability Arts framework in support of increased accessibility for artists and audiences.
“We are thrilled to have Lauren Howes join Inside Out as the newly appointed Executive Director,” said Thomas Park, Chair of the Inside Out Board of Directors. “Lauren comes to us with extensive nonprofit experience and leading organizations with their strategic planning, digital technology, financial and people management skills. In volunteer leadership capacities, they have demonstrated a commitment to diversity & inclusion and growing Ontario’s arts & culture sector.”
“I am so honoured to be joining the fabulous team at Inside Out,” said Howes. “I am excited to bring my passion for supporting our diverse communities of audiences and artists to my role as the new Executive Director. There are so many successes of my predecessor to build upon with an eye to expanding industry engagement, educational development, and community outreach.”
They continued, “What a joy it will be to support queer voices in bringing their creative talents to screen, and leverage the Inside Out brand in creative new ways for these ever changing, ever challenging times we are bearing witness to. I am so looking forward to working with the stellar team and Board of Directors as we continue to grow the festival, and especially when we’re able to gather again in cinemas and celebrate in-person.”
The recruitment process was led by executive search firm Leaders International, who worked with the Board’s search committee. The search committee evaluated a large pool of diverse and qualified candidates that reflected the dimensions of diversity and lived experiences Inside Out represents.
Howes joins Inside OUt ahead of the 31st Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, which will take place digitally from May 27-June 6. As the new Executive Director, Howes will lead Inside Out’s current strategic plan, which includes goals related to expanding cross-festival and cross-sector partnerships, launching new initiatives that provide direct support to LGBTQ filmmakers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftereffects, expanding educational offerings to provide skills training and networking for filmmakers at all levels through online/remote learning, further develop and expand the LGBTQ Finance Forum (the first one of its kind), and continuing to increase content by women, BIPOC and trans/non-binary filmmakers in all exhibition and industry programming.