Pro­gram will en­hance N.L. cul­ture, her­itage

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - OBITUARIES/LOCAL - BY SAM MCNEISH sa­muel.mcneish@thetele­gram.com

You don’t have to look any fur­ther than so­cial me­dia to re­al­ize the im­pact arts and cul­ture has on the prov­ince of New­found­land and Labrador.

A video show­ing this unique cul­tural iden­tity that has been trend­ing over the past 24 hours — of peo­ple spon­ta­neously burst­ing into song dur­ing a flight de­lay at an air­port in Toronto — re­veals the in­flu­ence res­i­dents of this prov­ince have on the cul­tural fi­bre of this coun­try.

“As I look around this room, I see those that cre­ate and per­form or give artis­tic im­pres­sion,” Min­is­ter of Tourism, Cul­ture, In­dus­try and In­no­va­tion Christo­pher Mitchel­more said while an­nounc­ing the Sta­tus of Artist Act, which he pre­sented for sec­ond read­ing in the House of As­sem­bly on Tues­day.

Mitchel­more gath­ered with artists, writ­ers, film­mak­ers and mu­si­cians to laud the ben­e­fits of the new act in the hopes each of th­ese des­ig­na­tions re­ceives recog­ni­tion, sup­port and fair com­pen­sa­tion for their ef­forts.

“Art­snl has been pleased to work with the de­part­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of the Sta­tus of Artist Act for a num­ber of years,” said Stan Hill, chair of the Art­snl board of di­rec­tors.

“The min­is­ter’s 2015 man­date let­ter ac­knowl­edged that artists are es­sen­tial to the preser­va­tion and pro­gres­sion of our cul­tural iden­tity. Arts NL agrees with that state­ment while si­mul­ta­ne­ously rec­og­niz­ing the value of the arts sec­tor as an im­por­tant so­cial and eco­nomic in­dus­try of New­found­land and Labrador.”

Hill said the round-ta­ble dis­cus­sions that in­volved all the part­ners and feed­back col­lected online helped de­velop the leg­is­la­tion, which for­mally rec­og­nizes the con­tri­bu­tion the arts sec­tor makes to the prov­ince.

The act will en­cour­age ev­ery­one to pay artists fairly based on their re­spec­tive in­dus­try stan­dards. In ad­di­tion, the govern­ment is com­mit­ted to re­vi­tal­iz­ing its ap­proach to sup­port­ing cul­ture through a new cul­tural plan re­newal to be com­pleted by Jan­uary 2019.

Mitchel­more said greater con­sul­ta­tion with peo­ple from arts and her­itage sec­tors will al­low for new and in­no­va­tive ways to sup­port artists in the prov­ince.

“This (act) is a re­in­force­ment of the fact govern­ment is com­mit­ted to move the wheel,” Josh Sandu, half of the folk/roots duo Rube & Rake, said Tues­day.

“The pulse of New­found­land and Labrador is in arts and cul­ture,” he added af­ter Rube & Rake per­formed two orig­i­nal num­bers for those gath­ered at the St. John’s Arts and Cul­ture Cen­tre.

The other half of the duo knows the im­por­tance of gain­ing sup­port and fund­ing.

“Art­snl gave us a travel grant, which was an in­te­gral part of get­ting our tour off the ground,” An­drew Laite said.

“Com­ing from B.C., the first thing I no­ticed was the sup­port for the artists here in New­found­land and Labrador. It is nice to see,” Laite added.

Sharon Bala moved to this prov­ince in 2010, and at that time was not a writer, she ex­plained be­fore read­ing an ex­cerpt from her third re­lease, “The Boat Peo­ple.”

Bala said she is sur­prised she is a writer, as there were not a lot of books in her home while she was grow­ing up.

“I stand here, just steps away from the pub­lic li­brary, my pub­lic li­brary, a place that holds the cru­cial re­sources that helped make my ca­reer pos­si­ble,” Bala said, not­ing she didn’t re­ceive fund­ing from this ini­tia­tive.

“There are so many peo­ple make a liv­ing here. This is a fan­tas­tic pro­gram and it is a vi­brant re­source for us. I hope this means a com­mit­ment for govern­ment to con­tinue to run th­ese pro­grams and things like li­braries. It is im­por­tant to keep them open for adults and chil­dren, who don’t know they are read­ers yet,” she added.

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