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In Conversation: OCAD U + UAL

OCAD U + UAL fireside chat poster

In Conversation: OCAD U + UAL 

Join us for a stimulating evening at OCAD University. We are happy to invite you to this thought-provoking event with the creative minds of OCAD U President Ana Serrano & UAL President James Purnell. This truly inspiring discussion will be moderated by Design TO's Artistic Director & Curator Deborah Wang.

This in-person event is a unique opportunity to connect with world leading creative institutions. Be sure to mark your calendar and get ready for engaging conversations around public policies in social change, and the crucial roles Universities play in making a better future for all.


James Purnell (UAL)

James Purnell joined UAL on 1 March 2021 to become President and Vice-Chancellor. He brings with him extensive experience within the creative industries, public policy and the digital landscape. James came to UAL from the BBC where he first worked in the 1990s as Head of Corporate Planning. He had previously been a research fellow on IPPR's media project, and before that was a strategy consultant in media and telecommunications at Hydra Associates. In 1997, he left the BBC to be Special Adviser on the Knowledge Economy, including the arts, internet and broadcasting policy, to Tony Blair after he became Prime Minister.

He was elected Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde, before becoming Secretary of State for Culture and then for Work and Pensions. In 2009, as Secretary of State for Culture, James commissioned the McMaster Review, which reset the debate around access and excellence in culture. James left politics in 2010. This led to him joining Rare Day and producing the documentary One Mile Away, which brought two gangs in Birmingham to a truce after decades of conflict and won Best Film at the Edinburgh Film Festival. James then returned to the BBC in 2013 as Director of Strategy and Digital, where he was responsible for developing the BBC’s strategy in the run up to Charter Review. He took up the role of Director, Radio & Education in October 2016 and was responsible for leading teams across BBC Radio & Music, BBC Children’s & Education as well as BBC Arts. He oversaw the development of the corporation’s education strategy, including support for kids and parents at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. He launched BBC Sounds, which brought together the BBC’s radio stations, podcasts and music mixes in one place with more than 3.4 million weekly users and championed the BBC’s ambitious Arts strategy. James has also served on the boards of the National Theatre, the Young Vic and the BFI. 


Ana Serrano (OCAD U)

Ana Serrano, who assumed the role of President and Vice-Chancellor on 1 July 1 2020, is an award-winning visionary leader with more than 25 years of experience in transforming organizations, creating award-winning digital products and cultural experiences, and designing cutting-edge programs to strengthen cultural and creative sectors and industries.

President Serrano believes in facilitating and nurturing the growth and success of the next generation of arts and culture leaders as they tackle some of the most complex challenges of our time.

“From designing for climate resilience to reshaping our relationship with technology, from tackling inequality to preserving democratic practices, we must support these emerging change-makers in working collaboratively in interdisciplinary teams from around the world, bridging north and south, as they co-create equitable, just and sustainable futures for all,” says President Serrano.

As a creative and innovator producer of more than 140 digital projects, President Serrano has produced some of Canada’s critically acclaimed works in digital media, including the award-winning Body/Mind/Change starring David Cronenberg, the first transmedia experience that integrated interactive storytelling, 3D printing and virtual reality, and the award-winning transmedia experience, Prison Dancer: The Musical that won five major Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards in June 2023. The production ended a run at The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta in May 2023 and will open at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on November 23, 2023.

The recipient of numerous awards from the digital, media, film and theatre industries in both Canada and United States, President Serrano received the Insignia of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Government of France in 2018.

She is also the recipient of the 2021 Crystal Award for Digital Trailblazer Award from the Women in Film & Television Toronto, the 2015 Digital Media Trailblazer Award from the Academy of Canadian Film & Television and won the 2012 Best Canadian Feature Film Award from the International Reel Asian Film Festival for Prison Dancer: The Musical.

Before joining OCAD University, President Serrano was the Chief Digital Officer of the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and founder of the world-renowned and award-winning CFC Media Lab. At the CFC, she launched several unique and cutting-edge Canadian start-up accelerators, including IDEABOOST, Canada’s first digital entertainment accelerator, with founding partners Corus Entertainment, Google and Shaw Media.

An engaged and active volunteer, President Serrano is co-chair of the Open Democracy Project, a former trustee of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and is a member of various boards, including the National Film Board, Toronto Arts Council and Atkinson Foundation.

Deborah Wang (DesignTO) 

Deborah Wang is a Taiwanese Canadian architect, curator and designer based in Toronto, with a broad range of experiences in contemporary art, design and architecture that spans two decades. She earned a Master of Fine Art from OCAD University and a Master of Architecture from the University of Waterloo. 

As Artistic Director of DesignTO, she has experience building and running a non-profit arts organization that produces Canada’s leading and largest annual design festival, curating numerous public programs and exhibitions for DesignTO and independently. 

Alongside her work with DesignTO, Deborah leads her own architecture and design studio dw /a. She has been featured in The Globe and Mail, profiled in Azure Magazine and interviewed by Monocle Radio.

This in-person event is a unique opportunity to connect with both institutions, discussing public policies in social change and the crucial roles University’s play.

Mark your calendars and get ready for an evening filled with ideas and engaging conversations. 

We can't wait to see you there!

Be sure to RSVP through the link HERE