Matthew Jocelyn, a ‘controversial’ Canadian artist, just took over the Koffler Centre. What does that mean for its Jewish future?

Matthew Jocelyn took over as the general director of the Koffler Centre for the Arts on Oct. 2, 2023. (Supplied photo / Google Maps)

In Matthew Jocelyn’s ideal world, audiences would look at upcoming programming from the Koffler Centre of the Arts in Toronto and ask, “Really? The Koffler is doing that?”

Ruffling feathers isn’t new for the artistic leader, who spent 28 years in France, where he worked in some of the nation’s top opera houses and was awarded as a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. After returning to Canada, he took the helm at Canadian Stage, Canada’s largest not-for-profit theatre company, which drew mixed reactions and a minor outcry from supporters expecting a more traditional direction for the acclaimed theatre. By 2016, a profile in Maclean’s described him as “one of this country’s most brilliant creative forces—and one of its most controversial.”

On Oct. 2, 2023, he took over full-time as the general director of the Koffler Centre, Canada’s most prominent historically Jewish arts institution. How will he balance Jewish programming with the centre’s broader mandate? How will he handle the inevitable calls from BDS supporters to divest from Jewish artists and funding sources? And what can visitors expect to see from the centre in the future? Jocelyn joins Culturally Jewish, The CJN’s arts and culture podcast, to answer those questions and more.

The CJN is a promotional partner for Jewish Futures, a conference for Toronto’s Jewish artists and cultural workers exploring the future of Jewish cultural and artistic life. What future do we want to create together? How can the past and presentation of memory help to inform our present? How do we share our stories to guide our futures? Learn more and buy tickets here.


Culturally Jewish is hosted by Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Our producer is Michael Fraiman, and our theme music is by Sarah Segal-Lazar. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To support The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt, please consider a monthly donation by clicking here.