Lobby Chats: Safe Networking for Entertainment Careers

November 30, 2021, 1-2.30 pm (ET) on Zoom

One of the most nebulous, anxiety-inducing aspects of an entertainment career is networking. Many people hate doing it, especially since there is no perfect rulebook to show the way. At its best, it can lead to a growing sense of community and new work opportunities. Conversely, it can also be riddled with uncomfortable moments, blurred boundaries and misunderstandings.

We hear it a lot, “It’s all about who you know!” But how do you know who those people are and how to best approach and interact with them? How do we build genuine connections while maintaining personal boundaries? What can we do if we feel our boundaries are crossed? We raise these questions because putting ourselves out there for our careers can be a vulnerable process, with power dynamics giving weight to every interaction, either consciously or unconsciously.

Our second Lobby Chat will discuss building professional connections while maintaining a sense of safety by identifying personal boundaries and respecting the ones of others. Even though we do not have a rulebook, we hope this will be an opportunity for community learning about professional development tools that will help you feel confident in your networking interactions.

Content Warning: Safe Networking for Entertainment Careers may include sensitive subject matter.


  • Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC (career coach, Coordinator of Career Strategies and Lecturer on Careers in Music at the Yale School of Music)
  • Adanya Dunn (mezzo-soprano, Founder of Red Light Arts & Culture)
  • Hari Krishnan (choreographer, Artistic Director of inDANCE, Chair and Professor of Dance at the Department of Dance at Wesleyan University)
  • Pratishtha Kohli (concert curator, arts administrator, Co-Artistic Director of The Tawoos Initiative)
  • Kimberly Rampersad (actor, stage director, choreographer, Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival)


Christine Rossi-Wright (Registered Social Worker, Senior Program Worker at The AFC)

Accessibility: ASL interpretation and closed captioning provided.

Recording: Safe Networking for Entertainment Careers will be recorded. The recording of the discussion will be provided to all those who register for the event.

This Lobby Chat is hosted by The AFC, in partnership with Work in Culture and the Association for Opera in Canada.

About Lobby Chats

The AFC’s Lobby Chats bring people together who have experience, passion, and knowledge of critical topics that directly impact the members of Canada’s entertainment industry. Whether we’re talking to freelancers, leaders, administrators, or service providers, these conversations offer a compassionate knowledge-sharing platform where our community can come together to help each other grow and flourish in the industry on both personal and professional levels.

Lobby Chats focus on the individual’s experience, the person who is navigating what is known to be a precarious career path in arts and entertainment. These conversations will hone in on the areas of financial wellness, mental health, and career sustainability. At the end of each chat, audiences will have a chance to ask questions and join the conversation in the spirit of community support and learning.


Astrid Baumgardner, JD, PCC, panelist (she/her)

Astrid Baumgardner loves helping creative people to be successful! A lawyer, career coach, speaker and author of the book, Creative Success Now, she teaches creativity and career entrepreneurship at Yale University’s School of Music. A professional speaker, Ms. Baumgardner recently gave a TEDx talk on Cracking the Code on Creativity: The Secret to Full-Blast Living.

As president of her coaching company, Astrid Baumgardner Coaching+Training, Ms. Baumgardner works with arts leaders who want to be authentic, powerful leaders and professional musicians and creative entrepreneurs who want career success and happier, more fulfilling lives. She coaches and guest lectures on creative success at conservatories and summer festivals including The Juilliard School, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Sō Percussion Summer Institute and Idyllwild Arts. She also conducts leadership training workshops at Opera America and Ensemble Connect, the teaching artist academy at Carnegie Hall. A lifelong amateur pianist and champion of new music, she holds leadership roles at the boards of the American Composers Orchestra, Sō Percussion and Opera America. Ms. Baumgardner lives in New York City where she enjoys the diversity of cultures and the lively performing arts scene. For more information, please visit www.astridbaumgardner.com.

Adanya Dunn, panelist (she/her)

Mezzo-soprano Adanya Dunn made her American debut as Hermia in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Santa Fe Opera (2021). Adanya is an alumna of the University of Toronto, Bard College Conservatory, and Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Performance highlights include: Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Sesto (La clemenza di Tito), and concerts at Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw and Het Concertgebouw. She has won awards from the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation, Hnatyshyn Foundation, Metropolitan Opera, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Adanya founded Red Light Arts & Culture (RLAC) in Amsterdam, and won the Music Academy of the West’s Alumni Enterprise award for this project. RLAC is a not-for-profit foundation that connects local entrepreneurs, professional musicians and artists, and site-specific locations, promoting and adding to the rich cultural diversity of the Red Light District. In 2022, Adanya performs various concerts with the Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France conducted by Barbara Hannigan.

Pratishtha Kohli, panelist (she/her)

Pratishtha Kohli lives in Tkaronto, where she is a settler, migrant, arts administrator and a researcher. She is the co-founder of the Tawoos Initiative, a music collective that focuses on indie artists of South Asian origin. She spends her days freelancing, working with several Arts organizations and collectives in the GTA, curating music performances across genres, and spend her nights failing at YouTube trivia quizzes while competing for couch space with her cats. 



Hari Krishnan, panelist (he/him)

Hari Krishnan has been described by the New York Times as “a communicator who seizes the audience with his glances, complex meters, fully three-dimensional phrases — even with an isolated finger” and by the Toronto Star as a “maverick gadfly who is aggressively iconoclastic.” He is the artistic director of Toronto-based company inDANCE and is also Chair and Professor of Dance in the Department of Dance at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He holds a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman’s University and his research areas include queer identities in dance performance, contemporary dance from global perspectives, colonialism, post-colonialism and Indian dance, Bharatanatyam in Tamil cinema and the history of courtesan dance traditions in South India. Recent awards/nominations include the Eldred Family Choreography Nomination (2021), a Mellon Foundation Grant (2021- co-recipient as part of SAEDA- South Asian Experimental Dance Artists), a special citation from the 2020 de la Torre Bueno© First Book Award Committee of the Dance Studies Association (for his 2019 monograph, Celluloid Classicism: Early Tamil Cinema and the Making of Modern Bharatanatyam), Erasmus Mundus Residency Award (Europe, 2015); Bessie Nomination (2013) for Outstanding Performance- New York Dance and Performance Award and the Bessie Schoenberg Choreographic Residency Award – The Yard (2013).

Kimberly Rampersad, panelist (she/her)

As an actor Kimberley has appeared in various theatres across Canada including Mirvish, RMTC, Stratford and Shaw Festivals. 

Her work as a choreographer has been recognized with two Dora nominations Evie Award for Matilda – The Musical (Royal MTC/ Citadel/ Arts Club.) As a director, Kimberley recently directed Serving Elizabeth at the Statford Festival. Her full- length production of Man and Superman at the Shaw Festival was featured in the New York Times. Other directing credits include How Black Mothers Say I Love You (GCTC) (Prix Rideau Award) and The Color Purple (Neptune and Citadel/ Royal MTC) (Sterling and Merritt Awards.)

In the community she contributes to the work of the Philp Akin – Black Shoulders Legacy Award, Gina’s Prize, and sits on the board of AFC. Kimberley is currently the Associate Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Christine Rossi-Wright, moderator (she/her)

In her role as Senior Program Worker at The AFC, Christine coordinates client intake and applications for emergency financial aid, contributes to case review calls with the Board of Directors, and provides direct social work support to clients.

Previously, Christine worked as an Epilepsy Educator, which included advocacy, counselling, and coordinating support plans for people with epilepsy; she also has experience working with survivors of trauma as a residential counsellor. Christine is a registered social worker and holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Windsor.

Christine’s education and experience is complemented by her previous work as an actor in professional musical theatre and her strong ties to the Toronto arts community.

Introducing: Lobby Chats

The AFC’s new knowledge-sharing series in which community members can come together to help each other grow and flourish in the industry on both personal and professional levels.


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