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FHASS and TENT research project showcases student flair

 Students involved in creative facilitation session as part of research project


Students are the core of all things Sheridan, and it was through a generous research grant and new partnership with Toronto Fringe that their talents were given centre stage. The Fringe Festival provides artists an opportunity to launch and/or establish their careers while perfecting new works, and its Theatre Entrepreneurs’ Networking and Training Program (TENT) provides emerging producers with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the theatre world.

In November 2018, Brandon McFarlane, Professor of Creativity and Creative Thinking in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Services (FHASS), was the recipient of a two-year $240,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). This grant enables McFarlane and his research team to bring Sheridan’s creative problem solving skills to festivals in the local arts community. Additional faculty leads on the team include FHASS Professors Dr. Glenn Clifton, Dr. Michael McNamara and Jennifer Phenix.

They named the TENT research project, Mobilizing Social Innovation to Train the Next Generation of Theatre Entrepreneurs.

McFarlane selected a group of talented and eager students from across Sheridan’s Business and Arts Bachelor Degree programs to bring the project to life:  Brittany German (BA, Creative Writing & Publishing); Sandra Ghobrial (BBA, Marketing); Kayden Chan (BA, Illustration); Kate Dockeray (BA, Photography); and Matthew Wong (BA, Applied Information Science).

Additional student contributors included: Paolo Di Barbora (BA, Craft and Design); Anthony Marcelino (BBA, Marketing); Victoria Webb (BBA, Marketing); Lexy Pakenham-Troth (BA, Film and Television); Steven Grabell (BA, Film and Television); Michaella Pannu (BA, ECL); Shanil Paterl (BA, Interaction Design); Karly O’Brien (BBA, Marketing), Jaquelyn Ferguson (BA, Creative Writing and Publishing); Robyn Miller (BA, Creative Writing and Publishing), and Michael Rugo (BA, Interaction Design).

“One person can achieve great things with enough drive and resources, but when you add an army of creative minds with fresh ideas and energy, the opportunities to build something extraordinary are endless,” says McFarlane. “By bringing this eclectic group together, I wanted to ensure they had the experience of seeing the real-world impact and results of their work.”

Throughout this process, McFarlane uses this opportunity to elevate and celebrate the students’ work, dedication and achievements from different angles:

  • Facilitations – Sandra and Matthew designed and facilitated creative problem solving workshops for TENT, working with collaborators to reveal and discover brilliant new ideas.
  • Photography Kate observed and photographed the research project’s collaboration with TENT. These photographs are now on display in the southern stairwell of HMC’s B-Wing, and showcase the artist ambition and playfulness of the project.
  • Digital Dissemination – Brittany raises awareness of the project’s impact as lead copy writer for Sheridan students and Toronto’s theatre community through online blog posts, website content, and social media posts.
  • Design - Kayden created an abstract logo for McFarlane’s Creative Humanities projects.The moveable pieces can geometrically form a C and an H, figuratively creating a community of different people; a vision of Sheridan and the project.

“Working on this project enhanced my skills in writing, helping me to adapt to different formats and audiences,” says Brittany German. “Writing for the web and for social media is very different from short story or novel writing, and I now have those skills to help me as I further my career as a writer.”

During the two-year TENT project, initial recommendations and ideas have already been shared with Toronto Fringe, and the students have been provided a real-world opportunity to develop and practice their inspiring skills. 

For more information and updates on the TENT project, please visit