Our Team

Yalitsa Riden | Artistic Director


Yalitsa is a Halifax-based Multimedia-Interdisciplinary artist. Along with pursuing a sustainable arts practice they are also focused on community engagement and recognizing the importance of having a vibrant and inclusive arts community. Their love for the arts goes hand in hand with their social and political advocacy, having served on NSCAD University’s Board for 2 years and becoming the Artistic Director for the StART Festival. Their goals lie in supporting gender equality, connecting artists with local organizations throughout the city and promoting increased provincial funding for the arts.

Kayla Borden | Program Director

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Jamaican Canadian Resident of Halifax, Kayla Borden is a freelancer music promoter ,agent,event & social media coordinator and a talent scout for non for profit organizations such as Music Liberatory, Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia and the Emerging lens film festival just to name a few. Kayla enjoys working with young talent from low income communities on their goals for the future. She loves seeking out or creating opportunity for talent to be showcased and celebrated within a cultural background. She believes not forgetting where you come from and giving back is very important to our communities. And loves working with artists and other individuals that believe the same.

Leena Alawaid | Festival Coordinator


Leena Alawaid was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia and got to pursue her artistic studies and explorations at NSCAD University.  After graduation in 2014, her main focus was to try and bring forth the concept of Creative Arts Therapy and draw attention to the process in her community. Leena is currently working together with several organizations in the community, including Ronald McDonald House and the IWK, where she offers art sessions to the children as a form of healing. Growing up in Halifax she got to experience first hand how much of a tight knit community the city has and she is thrilled to join the team here as Associate Producer at StART Fest Halifax.

Alanna Griffin | Co-Founder


Alanna Griffin is the co-founder of the StART Festival. She loves aligning organizations and artistic individuals with opportunities. She has worked with community and arts organizations such as Upstream Music Association, Team Possibles, Festival Antigonish, Opera Nova Scotia, the Atlantic Film Festival, and Magnetic North Theatre Festival. She graduated from Dalhousie University with a double major in Theatre Studies and Psychology.

Karen Gross | Co-Founder


Karen Gross is a Halifax based producer, spending most of her time with 2b theatre company. She has also worked with Zuppa Theatre, Live Art Dance, Strategic Arts Management and the Magnetic North Theatre Festival. She is also currently the resident producer for HomeFirst Theatre (It Is Solved By Walking, Messenger), The Accidental Mechanics Groups (Let’s Not Beat Each Other to Death), and Keep Good (Theatre) Company (Let’s Try This Standing), where she is also an artistic co-director. She graduated from the University of King’s College in 2014 with a combined honours degree in theatre and contemporary philosophy.