ARTBRIDGES MAPS NEWFOUNDLAND: PHASE 1
We contacted 68 organizations/reserves/communities by internet and telephone research and had conversations with 46 people from these various sources. We found 13 community arts programs and centres that provide access to people who lack resources and opportunities. We found 3 community arts, outreach and educational resources. We have a secondary research list to follow-up on with 32 sources.
The people we contacted in Newfoundland and Labrador were very friendly, considering that we were cold-calling. Many were very open to sharing information and talking to us for up to twenty minutes, considering we were CFAs (we later learned that this means “Come From Away”) and it was the first province we mapped.
When we started researching community arts programs outside of St. John’s, we became discouraged as it was hard to find leads. There were entire regions where we couldn’t find any formal arts programs or art centres. By the end of our research, however, we had found many.
Bev Barbour, director of the Anna Templeton Centre in St. John’s, offers some great community outreach and scholarship opportunities. She said that St. John’s had no specific low-income areas (unlike the priority neighbourhoods or designated government housing of many cities). She said that finding community arts centres targeting an at-risk community would be difficult. She said that Newfoundland has a vibrant arts community, but that there could be more arts for people who really need it. She also mentioned that art in rural areas is limited, and that public schools varied in their arts delivery.
We found Elayne Greeley with the Murphy Centre/Community Youth Arts in St. John’s. She had also been on the Board of VANL-CARFAC (Visual Artists Newfoundland and Labrador-Canadian Artists Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens). Her program is all about employing youth and engaging them in community arts in the process. She said that in the St John’s area, many youth have addiction issues, the drug problem is getting worse and prostitution is bad. For the Love of Learning in St. John’s is an excellent example of a community arts organization for resilient youth.
With regard to promoting ArtBridges and the need for connections and networks between remote communities, Elayne said that travel within the province was a challenge considering the distances and the rugged landscape between towns. She said the nearest town is 6 hours away and it costs $1300 to fly from St. John’s to Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
We found that the two Native Friendship Centres offer accessible arts programs for all ages. We also found out about great community arts outreach programs offered through The Rooms, the Eastern Edge Gallery, Learning through the Arts, the R.E.A.L. program and the Labrador West Arts and Cultural Centre. Two noteworthy arts resources are the Association of Cultural Industries of Newfound and Labrador and the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Calling the Torngasok Cultural Centre in Nain (in the Nunatsiavut region), and speaking with the Community Development Officer, Molly Shiwak, opened our eyes to what’s going on in community arts along the Northern Labrador coast in small Inuit fly-in communities. She told us about four other Inuit communities that were in various stages of developing art and craft collectives. She said that she would really value being a part of a network that was beyond Labrador.
The Labrador Cultural Outreach Officer, Donna Roberts, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay said that many of the Inuit along the coast don’t call their work art and don’t call themselves artists. They might make a one-of-a-kind basket or rug but these items are for everyday use and made out of necessity and not seen as an art form. Many of the communities are fly-in communities or reached by boats. There are many individual artists who sell their work to tourists who come into the ports. She said that there is a community of 300 people, in the Town of Charlottetown trying to start their own arts council. However, like most towns along the southern coast, they are in survival mode due to seasonal labour and fisheries closing and that there are issues of access and lack of engagement.
Donna said that in Hopedale, there are lots of artists in the community and that elders are mentors and teachers. She also mentioned that the arts council had to alter their Arts and Heritage grants and offer more Economic Development grants to better meet the needs of the Inuit communities.
Dorrie Brown, the program coordinator of the annual Labrador Creative Arts Festival in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, told us about this fantastic and inclusive arts festival. One thing that caught our attention was that transportation is provided for free to selected youth from remote fly-in communities to participate in the dramatic component of the festival. Social issues of the communities are reflected in the plays that the students write.
Summary by Seanna Connell & Lisa Tran, Spring 2009