Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council
Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council
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35th Annual ArtsNL Arts Awards

On December 1, 2020, ArtsNL presented the 35th ArtsNL Arts Awards at the LSPU Hall in St. John's, NL. Six awards honouring the accomplishments of Newfoundland and Labrador's artists were presented.

The winners were:

Patron of the Arts Award: David Hood

David Hood is a retired partner at Grant Thornton in St. John’s and is well-known for his dedicated service to the arts. His vision and generosity, paired with his professional expertise and experience, has had a direct impact on the ability of arts organizations to develop and be sustained in this province. He is noted for his extraordinary voluntary work in the areas of governance, fund development, and promotion of the arts and heritage communities of Newfoundland and Labrador, including Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, St. Michael’s Printshop, Perchance Theatre, Music NL, Garrick Theatre, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, and various individual artist members of Business and Arts NL. Organizations where he serves or has served as chair, executive member, or director are many and include: Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, the Bonavista Biennale, Business and Arts NL, Association of Heritage Industries of NL, the Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Trust, and the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. For his steadfast and enthusiastic support for culture in this province, we congratulate David Hood as the 2019 recipient of the Patron of the Arts Award.

[View the profile view on YouTube]

CBC Emerging Artist Award: Emily Bridger

Emily Bridger is a St. John's-based writer, director, and actor whose body of work ranges from dark comedy to drama. Her repertoire of short films has been shown on the festival circuit and includes Epilogue, Brad, Kathy, winner of the William F. White Award for Best Comedy at Lake Shorts International, and Sadie, which was recognized as Best Newfoundland and Labrador Film at the 2015 Nickel Film Festival. Her most recent short, Waste It, received the RBC Michelle Jackson Award in 2016. Bridger, whose work has established her as an integral part of the provincial film scene, has become a director of note, directing her own work as well as the most recent short, Lamenting Pluto, written by Monica Walsh. The script for her debut feature film, Little Orphans, was selected for the Whistler Film Festival Praxis Screenwriters Lab in 2017. The film was nominated by the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival for Telefilm’s Talent to Watch Program in 2018 and was the only selection from Newfoundland and Labrador. Little Orphans was shot in 2019 and Bridger was both the writer and lead actor on the project.

[View the finalist reel on YouTube]

Arts in Education Award: Joanna Barker

Joanna Barker is a Mi'kmaw singer, songwriter, and musician from Grand Falls-Windsor and a member of Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation. She studied developmental psychology at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and is a music teacher at the Mushuau Innu Natuashish School. She has volunteered as the after-school theatre arts teacher and brought five students to the Labrador Creative Arts Festival to perform a play they wrote. She has also facilitated daily after-school music clubs, focus groups, and private lessons. Barker’s passion for music, particularly its connection to young people and communities, fuels her drive to go above and beyond in fostering well-being, openness, opportunity, and friendship in her teaching work. She has developed and facilitated camps for youth with the National Arts Centre’s Music Alive Program (MAP) and is the Programming Director at Girls Rock NL and the Co-Director of St. John’s Women in Music (SWIM).

[View the finalist reel on YouTube]

Hall of Honour Inductee: Bernice Morgan

This year’s inductee to the Hall of Honour is writer Bernice Morgan. Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Bernice Morgan is best known for her first two novels: Random Passage and its sequel, Waiting for Time. Waiting for Time won The Canadian Author’s Award for Fiction and the Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. Both novels are concerned with Newfoundland’s cod fishery and the depletion of Atlantic cod. An eight-part television series based on these books was produced in 2001. The Topography of Love, a collection of short stories revolving around life in wartime St. John’s, was published in 2000, followed by the novel Cloud of BoneCloud of Bone won both the 2007/08 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award and the Heritage and History Book Award from the Newfoundland and Labrador Historic Sites Association. It was one of three books shortlisted for the 2008 Atlantic Fiction Award. 2015 saw the publication of her novella, The Dragon’s Song. Morgan’s latest work, Seasons Before the War, which depicts free-range children in pre-war St. John’s, has been described as "a picture book for the old at heart." Morgan was named Artist of the Year by ArtsNL in 1995, and in 1998 she was awarded an honorary degree by Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

[View the profile video on YouTube]

Artists' Achievement Award: Danielle Irvine

Danielle Irvine is an award-winning director who has worked across Canada for twenty years. She has been the artistic director of Cupids-based Perchance Theatre since 2013 and has directed theatrical productions of varying sizes and types across a range of venues. Irvine has also worked in casting for both film and television, including CBC’s Republic of Doyle and Netflix’s Frontier. She has served on the boards of numerous arts organizations, is frequently called upon to adjudicate local theatre festivals, and has extensive experience serving on arts juries and advisory committees. Irvine is a sought-after teacher, known for bringing Shakespeare’s words alive through classes, workshops, and other events in a way that is accessible for all ages. Highlights of her extensive career include six years of teaching at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal, assistant directing at the Stratford Festival of Canada for two seasons, and receiving a number of awards, including the Canada Council for the Arts’ John Hirsch Prize for Directing, and the Elinor and Lou Siminovitch Protégée Prize under Jillian Keiley.

[View the finalist reel on YouTube]

Artist of the Year Award: Megan Gail Coles

2019 was an eventful year for writer Megan Gail Coles. Her debut novel, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, was published by House of Anansi in February. Globe and Mail contributor Jade Colbert summarized the book by calling it "a dark, taut, funny novel that feels for its characters’ pain while remaining caustic toward the enablers and the kinds of violence that polite society allows." Coles moved to Montreal in early 2019 to pursue a PhD in interdisciplinary studies at Concordia University. By September, Small Game Hunting was long listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and, weeks later, was one of six books on the literary award’s shortlist. The following month, Coles was part of the Between the Pages tour, which brought together all six Giller finalists. The attention brought by the Giller shortlisting found Small Game Hunting reaching more readers than initially expected – a reach that was further expanded by the awarding of the 2019 BMO Winterset Award.

[View the finalist reel on YouTube]

To view the ceremony in its entirely, please visit the ArtsNL YouTube channel.