Articles tagged with: alumni

  • STAC graduate creating change through art

    Brock graduate Justus Duntsch (BA ‘17) is pictured above alongside Nancy Edmonstone, a local artist and regular participant in the Art Me Up program. 

    [written by Charles Kim for Surgite Magazine, Spring 2023]

    When graduates of Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) head off into the world, they do so with plans to make their mark in the arts community. Some have gone on to create successful theatre groups or perform their music in front of crowds of thousands. Others have showcased their work in, or even curated, popular art exhibitions around the globe.

    Justus Duntsch (BA ’17) is using his art to spark difficult conversations and to support some of Niagara’s most vulnerable residents.

    The Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (STAC) graduate has developed his career with the wellness and development of the Niagara community in mind.

    He strives to be the change he wants to see in the world. “Where do you start when you want to make the world a better place? It must start with you. It has to be genuine,” Duntsch says. “I think the best way is to speak with your actions.”

    “Where do you start when you want to make the world a better place?
    It must start with you.”
    – Justus Duntsch –

    Along with sitting on and chairing a variety of community arts committees since graduation, Duntsch has spent time working with Start Me Up Niagara, which supports individuals facing significant life changes and provides them with opportunities to stabilize, participate and grow.

    The organization offers services and programming to those facing challenges such as poverty, homelessness, unemployment, disabilities, addictions and mental health issues.

    Through the ‘Art Me Up Niagara’ program, Duntsch helps participants to express their past and present through the exploration of multidisciplinary arts in a safe studio environment.

    His work with Start Me Up Niagara has also led to his latest arts project, Before the Barriers, which reflects on the many people who took their own lives at the Burgoyne Bridge in St. Catharines from 2018 to 2019.

    Brock graduate Justus Duntsch (BA ‘17) has used his art to create community change, including through a public art and community beautification project on Robinson Street in Niagara Falls

    Duntsch says the project’s subject matter is difficult to talk about, which has only driven him to ensure those critical community conversations take place.

    “There needs to be a space where this can be discussed without the stigma and that’s really what I’m trying to get towards,” he says.

    Duntsch hopes to adapt the project for an academic space and has been in discussions with his alma mater, and STAC Director David Vivian, about how to do just that given the sensitivity of the topic.

    He says he’s thankful for Brock’s STAC program – which helps students to gain a critical view of contemporary culture – as it provided the skills he’s needed to get to where he is today.

    The instructors are top shelf, the tools, the space – it’s really a world-class facility,” he says of the MIWSFPA.

    Knowing the inspiration that came from his time at the downtown arts school, Duntsch looks forward to seeing where other aspiring artists from the University and beyond take their talents and how they use them to create change in the world.

    “For anyone doing their thing in the arts and anywhere for that matter, just keep on keeping on. Look inside and ask yourself, who do you want to impact? What’s your desired outcome? Find what drives your passion and take the next steps,” he says.


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  • TAP Jamaica celebrates five successful years

    Turn Around Projects of the Arts – lead by graduates, students and colleagues of the Department of Dramatic Arts of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts – began its fifth year on July 7th, 2011 in Port Antonio, Jamaica.  TAP is a multi-national initiative using the arts and education to build sustainable communities.

    This year, four talented Brock students attended TAP Jamaica: Lescia Poppe, Jamez Townsend, Dorothy Kane and Meaghan Gowrie, as well as seven Brock graduates, Tiffany Stull, Rox Chwaluk, Mike Irwin, Whitney Lee, Alycia McQueen, Christine Cassar, and Matt McLeod. Along with 8 others, the Canadian/American team developed successful workshops in dance, visual arts, music, creative writing, dramatic arts, culinary arts, film, and photography. Many weeks since the conclusion of the program the spirit and principles of TAP persist in the hearts of the Canadian facilitators and the Jamaican youth who participated. The hard work, dedication and compassion that every single team member brought to the project has once again guaranteed its success.

    The TAP pilot project began in 2007 with a collaboration between the programming director of the project and former Drama in Education and Society program graduate, Tiffany Stull, her classmates, and their guest professor the renowned Canadian Dub Poet Michael St. George. Students of the third year dramatic arts course Alternative Forms of Theatre worked together to create a two-week long program of intensive educational workshops for the youth in an impoverished region of Jamaica.  With the leadership of former DART professor Jane Leavitt and Michael St. George a five year commitment to TAP Jamaica was established with the intention of initiating and maintaining integrated arts workshops every July.

    Participant and third-year DART student Meaghan Gowrie exclaimed, “From a personal standpoint, I can proudly say that when facilitating the music workshop, my success was in part rooted deeply in the skills, knowledge and values that I have been taught so far as a Drama in Education and Society student at Brock University.”

    Now that the five year commitment to TAP Jamaica has come to an end the Canadian team is prepared to move into Phase 2 of the program, training Jamaican youth to become facilitators of an autonomous and self-directed workshop program.  This summer the groundwork was laid for Phase 2 with the creation of the F.I.T. team (Facilitators in Training). This team included ten Jamaican youth who have successfully achieved the objectives of TAP through their actions and leadership skills in previous years.  Five of these participants graduated the F.I.T. program in 2011 and will facilitate workshops in July 2012.

    Gowrie added, “The experience that I had as a Canadian team member, educator and friend to the amazing 44 Jamaican youth that attended the program is completely impossible to describe in words or writing. It is my hope that anyone who comes in contact with the pictures, videos, and people of TAP will get a small taste of the impact that the first five years has made on everyone who has ever helped in the execution of, or attended the program. The optimism and positivity that is now ever-presently radiating in each of us will inspire the people of Brock University and eventually the world that the arts can change lives, that anything is possible and that step by step, we WILL make it to the top!”

    Further information about the 2011 program can be found at the project blog  For information about TAP please contact

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    Categories: Alumni, News