With a heavy heart, we share the news of the sudden passing of Jini Stolk, the beloved and cherished Chair of the Board of Directors of Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, who passed away on August 25th, 2022.
We were incredibly proud and honoured to have her join the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair (TOAF) board in 2017. She took the leadership helm last year with a level of passion and energy. We knew we could do magic together, which we did over these years.
Jini was a cherished and relentless champion of the arts in Toronto. Many organizations, artists and art managers are touched by her wisdom, knowledge, sharpness and great sense of humour.
We will remember Jini for her deep care for the arts. She cared deeply about the artists, emerging arts managers, health of arts organizations, and decent work practices and led by example. The personal stories of people whom she has impacted with her grace are pouring in, and they are touching. She has left a beautiful legacy.
Her generosity of attention was rare and inspiring. She also loved these newsletters and read them to the end and always took the time to share her thoughts and compliments of what inspired her from the artist stories and highlights we shared. She bestowed the same generous attention to the organizations, artists and causes that she cared about.
Together with Jini, our board and our team, we revitalized this cultural gem in the city that is TOAF over the years. We updated every policy, revamped our governance structure, and focused on healthy core organizational practices.
We knew with a solid and strengthened foundation, we could focus on growing our impact, expanding our services to the artists and bringing in new initiatives and programs.
She planned and prepared for every board meeting with absolute thoroughness. She elevated the conversation and constantly focused our attention on the bigger picture, and nudged us to be forward-thinking. At every Fair, she connected with as many artists as possible. She wished she could talk to every single one of the 350 artists at the Fair, but that was just not feasible over 3 days!
In my last conversation with Jini, we were both on cloud nine, filled with pride and joy of the incredible success of TOAF61 as an event and as an organization, especially after going through some major challenges along the way. We were exhilarated and invigorated and were immediately dreaming of new ideas and visions for the continued growth and impact of TOAF.
This is an expert from the note Jini’s sent us after the Fair:
“Everyone I spoke to, at the Fair or since, loved it and was incredibly impressed – the attention to detail, the warm and welcoming atmosphere, the excellence of the work, the overall excitement of having been part of a very special event.
I am so excited for next year and beyond: we’ve earned our place as one of the outstanding arts events in Toronto and Canada.
We have so much to be thankful for, so much to be proud of, and so much to build on in future years. Who would have imagined that our 61st Fair would easily win the “Best of” award!”
To me, she was a mentor, sounding board and colleague. I had the privilege of working with Jini in the early years of my arts management career at Creative Trust, which became an instrumental and informative foundation for later years. We continued working together on the Creative Champion Network blog and then at TOAF. But above all, she was a true and dear friend all these years. We shared the love for a perfectly brewed cup of cappuccino at Manic coffee shop, over which we shared life and work stories, ideas and great laughs.
We deeply loved her and will carry with us her wisdom and guidance. Our loving thoughts are with her beautiful and caring family, friends, colleagues and the community she tended to.
With love and compassion,
Anahita Azrahimi & Ania Harmata
TOAF Board of Directors: Colleen Diamond, Harry Enchin, Brett Ledger, Darcy Killeen, Robert Mitchell
The following official obituary captures a loving glimpse into her life and her character.