CORNER BROOK – By anyone’s standards Monday was a great day for the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I think it’s fabulous,” Prof. Ken Livingstone, head of the School of Fine Arts at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, said upon hearing the Williams government would invest $17.5 million in the arts over the next three years. “This is literally going to change the profile of the arts in Newfoundland for the foreseeable future. I think it’s a huge step, a huge recognition by the government.”
Creative Newfoundland and Labrador: The Blueprint for Developing and Investing in Culture, announced in St. John’s on Monday, outlines major policies and directions to preserve, support and develop the province’s culture resources.
“The people who are going to benefit the most from this are the young working artists of Newfoundland, the vast majority of whom are graduates of this school,” Prof. Livingstone added. “They’re out there in art galleries, theatre companies and television shows. We trained them and the government is recognizing how important they are. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Dr. John Ashton also believes the announcement augers well for students, graduates, faculty and staff at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. “Over the last number of years, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College has established a reputation as a centre for the creative and performing arts in western Newfoundland,” Dr. Ashton said. “As an academic and artistic community we celebrate the unprecedented commitment to funding for the arts announced Monday by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“The new strategic cultural plan announced by Premier Williams and Minister Henderson will provide immeasurable support and encouragement to our creative writers, our colleagues in theatre and dance, our visual artists and most importantly our students and graduates,” Dr. Ashton added. “We join our colleagues in the cultural community in celebrating this landmark in the development of a cultural policy in our province. Despite inferences to the contrary, the vast majority of faculty and staff at Grenfell College are energized and enthused by Monday’s announcement.”
Charlotte Jones, local artist, former instructor at Grenfell College and member of the Newfoundland Arts Council, is among those applauding the announcement. “We are just delighted,” Jones said. “This means the council will be able to substantially fund artists and arts institutions. We always felt we had just enough to give out seed funding. Now we can really do something.”
Like Jones, Corner Brook resident Rex Brown has been a part of the province’s cultural scene for many years. “The March Hare applauds Premier Williams’ strategic cultural plan,” said Brown, project manager of the annual event. “The year 2007 marks our 20th anniversary of celebrating the words and music of this place and it’s so encouraging and exciting to hear that the Williams government is taking another giant step to support cultural causes. I concur wholeheartedly with Donna Butt’s assessment of Williams’ belief in and commitment to our culture, its place and business potential.”
Butt, artistic director of Rising Tide Theatre and recipient of an honorary degree at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, was on hand for the announcement that has received a great deal of positive feedback from people associated with the arts community.