BIG Thank you to our amazing jurors for their time and energy in selecting every years artists!


2019 Start Jurors (1)


Chudi Harris

With three Ep’s and five single releases to his name Artist-producer Chudi Harris has taken his distinct sound and unique live performance experience around Atlantic and Central Canada. Highlights of his young career include opening for Rich Aucoin, Born Ruffians, Weaves and Lowell, feature performances and publicity from Exclaim! Magazine, CBC, CTV, Red Bull Radio, The Chronicle Herald and The Coast.’ As an industry professional, Chudi has worked for FACTOR Canada as jury coordinator and is currently the festival coordinator at Halifax Pop Explosion.

Meghan Sivani-Merrigan

Raised in North End Halifax, Meghan Sivani-Merrigan is a musician, songwriter, sound artist, self-taught mixing/recording engineer and co-founder of AASK Montreal (Artists and Allies Seeking Knowledge and Know-How) who has recently returned to Halifax after over a decade living in Montreal. 

Often sculpting with tactile analog sonic elements and lo-fi grit in combination with polished hi-fi and contemporary digital sounds, her practice is inspired by meditation, nature, science fiction, healing inter-generational trauma and the complexities of straddling music and cultural worlds as a biracial queer femme. She believes the limitations we are faced with whether it’s lack of accessible gear, ability, gender or racial discrimination, technical savvy or having only 4 tracks to work with – can all be used to fuel our creative strengths and to return ourselves home.

As co-founder, booker and operator of Montreal’s former DIY live music venue & recording studio Drones Club (2011-2018), her live sound skills had an opportunity to develop and in turn, a deeper trust for her ear. Meghan is passionate about creating opportunities and accessible spaces for marginalized artists and this has reflected on her numerous years of programming for live music venues and festivals such as Pop Montreal, Suoni Per Il Popolo and Halifax Pop Explosion, among many others.

Niambi Tree

Born and raised in Jamaica, Niambi is a Dartmouth based poet whose work explores the intersectionality between race, self and mental illnesses. Her work is lyrical, deeply felt and rooted in storytelling. Niambi is a poet who reminds you that even the act of breathing is an expression of strength. They are a four-friendship time member of the Peterborough Poetry.

Slam Team as well as a 2-time individual grand slam champion. Niambi has always been a creative and passionate force of nature. She loves to express her many talents through dance, poetry, jewellery making and tarot readings. When Niambi is not busy doing kickass things for her community, you can probably catch her by a waterfall, singing too loudly on the bus, or talking to plants more than she does people.

Emmanuel Nwogbo

Emmanuel Nwogbo is a Nigerian-born visual artist who now resides in Halifax. Having grown up in the hustling and bustling city of Lagos, his colorful artworks pay homage to his motherland. His work is largely informed by interests in 20th Century art movements such as Pop Art, Surrealism, and Dada. Metaphors, ironies, and other figures of speech also play a huge role in his story making process. His lifelong interest in art and culture led him to an academic pursuit in Visual Art and Visual Communication Design, and later a master’s degree at NSCAD University. In 2018, he embarked on a year-long daily art and design project which saw him create one piece of art that paid homage to a different James Bond movie character every day.

2018 StART Jurors


Rajee Paña Jeji Shergill

Rajee Paña Jeji Shergill is an Indo-Filipina-Canadian artist born in Winnipeg and currently based in Cherry Hill, Nova Scotia. She received a diploma in Textile Arts from Capilano University, a BFA (Interdisciplinary) and BA (Art History) from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (Halifax, Nova Scotia) and her MA in Art History from Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec). She has participated in exhibitions and screenings in Vancouver, Halifax, Montreal, Guelph, and Toronto, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for The Great Island Arts Co-operative. Through textiles, sound, and still and moving images, Rajee explores memory, familial inheritance, and diasporic subjectivity.

Leesa Hamilton

Leesa is a Halifax based Textile Artist and Arts Facilitator. She is an award winning Costume Designer whose work has been featured with such companies that include; Zuppa Theatre Co., 2b theatre and Two Planks and a Passion Theatre. She currently works at NSCAD University as a Part-Time Faculty and Technician in Fashion and for the past year has been developing and coordinating NSCAD’s Art Factory. Leesa was so happy to be invited to participate in the jury for the Start Festival. It was a privilege to review the applications of so many talented artists, I am inspired by the dedication and energy that all of the applicants put into their craft.

Rena Thomas

Rena Thomas is an emerging experimental filmmaker living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was raised in Sackville, New Brunswick where she completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mount Allison University in 2012. Her art practice is informed by her experiences in nature and observations as a cis-gendered woman. Her work is a reaction to contemporary society, which to her is a place where humans are perceived separate from the environment, and where sexual objectification of women is prevalent. Rena’s work aims to reestablish a human connection to nature and redefine women as strong, while shedding light on their experiences of vulnerability.

Laura Simpson

Laura Simpson focuses on creating room, opportunity and control for artists. Along with Dan Mangan, she is the co-founder and CEO of  Side Door, a virtual booking agent and ticketing platform to support performances in alternative spaces. Laura has also hosted shows since 2011, mostly at her own home, The Syrup Factory. In 2016, she Make.Do.Camp. – a no-tech, dry retreat for folks of all kinds to disconnect from digital and reconnect with the land, each other and themselves.


2017 StART Jury

                     Adrian Fish          |           Tamar Dina                    Yeha Ahn


Adrian Fish 

Adrian Fish is a Toronto born photo-based artist and educator currently living in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  He holds an MFA from York University, as well as undergraduate accreditation from OCAD University in Toronto and the Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Oakville, ON.  His work has been shown nationally at numerous public institutions, artist-run centres and commercial galleries in cities such as Calgary, Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg, as well as internationally in Atlanta GA, Brooklyn, NY, Chelsea, NY, Columbus, OH, Berlin, Germany and Tokyo, Japan.  Adrian is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Division of Media Art at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is represented by Loop Gallery in Toronto.


Tamar Dina

Tamar Dina is an inter/multidisciplinary artist living and working in Halifax. She has shown her work in a variety of festivals, such as Nuit Blanche, StART fest and Nocturne. Recently she created her first short animation with CFAT’s Media Scholarship Program and won the pitch competition at WIFT’s Making Waves Conference. Dina is also founder and coordinator of the Music Liberatory, a non-profit organization aimed at dramatically increasing the number of female instrumentalists.


Yeha Ahn

Yeha Ahn was born in Korea and has been resident of Canada for over 13 years. She holds a BFA from NSCAD University and has since worked to support the arts community in a number of different roles. Yeha has volunteered with the Magnetic North theatre festival, worked as a volunteer docent at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and interned with the Halifax Opera Festival and New York’s Center for Book Arts. She is currently Nocturne’s Director of Volunteers and serves as a programming committee member for the Khyber Center for the Arts. She is excited about supporting and contributing to Start Festival’s mandate of showcasing and empowering emerging artists.