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ArtsNL Arts Awards turns 30!

On July 10, 2015, ArtsNL kicked off its 35th anniversary year with another anniversary – the 30th installment of the ArtsNL Arts Awards. The awards, which started travelling around the province every other year, were in St. John’s to mark the occasion and did it in style at The Rooms.

The awards first travelled to Corner Brook in 2007, and thus far host municipalities for the awards have included Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Gander, and Clarenville. For the 30th anniversary of the show, Wendy Woodland from RogersTV Corner Brook was invited to fill the hosting role. Woodland expertly led the audience through the presentation of awards to seven recipients in six categories.


Award presentation envelopes at the ready, handmade by Debby Winters


Programs for the 30th ArtsNL Arts Awards at The Rooms

ArtsNL's program officer, Katrina Rice, and ArtsNL Chair, Stan Hill

Before getting to handing out hardware, ArtsNL Chair Stan Hill brought remarks to the audience, and highlighted some of the activity and achievements that have taken place over the last year. Hill acknowledged the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, specifically the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development for the annual allocation made to ArtsNL, which enables support for the creation and enjoyment of the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador. He also acknowledged the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Cultural Connections Strategy which provides some of the funding for the Arts in Education programs that are also supported by the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association and Statoil.

Hill vocalized appreciation, on behalf of Council, for the corporate partners that ArtsNL works with throughout the year, as well as the staff in the ArtsNL office for their hard work. Woodland then returned to the podium to introduce the first video package of the evening. It profiled this year’s award artist Elias Semigak, an Inuit visual artist specializing in sculpture. Semigak, who is originally from Nain, lives in Clarenville where he creates pieces that blend his deep ancestral and cultural roots with the contemporary ideas of his own generation.

The first awards of the evening went to the already announced Fortis Properties Arts Hall of Honour inductees, Eastern Edge and visual artist Pam Hall.  The awards were presented to the recipients by Heather McKinnon, General Manager of the Delta Hotel.

Next to the podium was CBC Newfoundland and Labrador’s Krissy Holmes who was on hand to present the CBC Emerging Artist award for 2014. It went to traditional music duo Aaron Collis and Emilia Bartellas who were unfortunately not present because they were busy on the road touring. The pair is active on that front and has traveled throughout Canada and the US, as well as to Scotland and Australia representing Newfoundland and Labrador.

RogersTV's Wendy Woodland hosting the 30th ArtsNL Arts Awards


ArtsNL Executive Director, Reg Winsor speaking to the audience


ArtsNL Communications Officer, Joshua Jamieson discusses the new brand

There was one more award to hand out before remembering those that were lost over the last year in the Lives Lived video package, and that was the Memorial University Arts in Education award for 2014. Presented by Dr. Noreen Golfman, Provost and Vice President (Academic) for the university, the honour went to Grant Etchegary. Etchegary was honoured for his more than three decade long career focused on music education that also included work with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, launching the Rotary Music Festival, and his role as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Co-Vice Chair and Council member of ArtsNL, Christina Parker was next called to the podium by Wendy Woodland to highlight the ArtsNL Patron of the Arts. The only other previously announced award recipient was John O’Dea, who graciously accepted the honour. O’Dea is considered by many to be an unsung hero for the arts and cultural community and he has championed many initiatives in the province. He had a heavy involvement in establishing Riddle Fence, and has worked to support Opera on the Avalon, the Tuckamore Festival, and chairs the Random Passage Trust. He was also a key player in the establishment of Business and Arts NL, an organization focused on brokering relationships between the professional arts and cultural community and the corporate sector.

The penultimate award of the night was the Cox & Palmer Arts Achievement award for 2014, which was presented by Mark Russell who represented the firm. Russell announced that the winner in the category was musician Jim Duff, who started his career in the 1970s. Duff wrote and arranged countless compositions and scores for national and regional CBC television and radio programs. He has also been the chief arranger for the NSO Gala and Big Band concerts for 20 years, and has produced some 500 plus arrangements. He’s worked with acts such as Kim Stockwood, The Irish Descendants, Denis Parker, Ron Hynes, Anita Best, Hey Rosetta, and more.

The BMO Bank of Montreal Artist of the Year award for 2014 was saved as the final presentation at the 30th anniversary ArtsNL Arts Awards. Presented by BMO Bank of Montreal’s Vice President, Investments in Newfoundland and Labrador Jason Maher, the award went to filmmaker Deanne Foley. Foley has had great success this year with her most recently released project Relative Happiness being screened at Cannes and winning the Best Actress Award at the LA Comedy Festival. It screened at a number of other international festivals and Telefilm selected it as one of six features to tour the US. Foley also enjoyed success with her previous feature, Beat Down (2012), and has directed two episodes of Republic of Doyle. She has two features in development funded by Telefilm called Shoot Me and I Hate Rich Kids.


ArtsNL council members Pierre LeBlanc and Annemarie Christie


Ed Kavanagh plays the harp live during the reception at The Rooms


ArtsNL council members Lisa McDonald and Jerry Doyle

In conjunction with the unique piece of artwork crafted by Semigak, each award recipient received a cash prize of $2,500, with the ArtsNL Patron of the Arts being the only exception. Following tradition, the ArtsNL Arts Awards will hit the road again in 2016, this time heading to Stephenville.

The evening concluded with the unveiling of a fresh new brand identity revealed by executive director Reg Winsor and communications officer Joshua Jamieson. The new ArtsNL moniker and logo was designed by Perfect Day, an agency that worked closely with a committee of Council members. You can learn more about that in our previous feature here.


Winner of the Cox & Palmer Arts Achievement Award Jim Duff

ArtsNL's Joshua Jamieson, Stan Hill, and Reg Winsor after the award show

Nominee for BMO Bank of Montreal Artist of the Year, Rob Power, with Bill Brennan

If you missed the 30th anniversary ArtsNL Arts Awards at The Rooms you will be able to catch them on Rogers Community cable channels as they were at the event filming it for broadcast at a later date.  Once air times become available, ArtsNL will promote the broadcasts through our email distribution list and our social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

In the meantime, you can visit the ArtsNL YouTube channel right now to check out the video packages for each category summarizing the finalists, as well as the package profiling Elias Semigak, and the Lives Lived reel.

Photos by Joshua Jamieson and Annemarie Christie