The Telegram (St. John's)
Folk arts society honours Rick Page, Susan Shiner
Couple is this year’s recipient of the NL Folk Arts Society Lifetime Achievement Award
This year’s Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society Lifetime Achievement Award has been awarded to longtime festival volunteers Rick Page and Susan Shiner.
The couple, both of whom originate from Ontario, met in Newfoundland nearly 40 years ago and have lived here as active supporters of the music and arts community ever since.
Page and Shiner have always left their doors to open to performers from across the province, feeding and transporting them to perform at a wide variety of festivals throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and other parts of Canada.
“Susan and Rick have dedicated themselves to the festival and Folk Arts Society for decades. Volunteers are as important to us as our many performers and tradition bearers,” says John Drover, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Arts Society.
In 1977 and 1978, Shiner was instrumental in organizing the Good Entertainment for Anyone’s Not Used To It festivals, which brought together music, song, crafts and storytelling tradition bearers from across the province to St. John’s the first year and Gros Morne the second.
“These early efforts to raise the profile of the old guard of this province’s traditional musicians laid the foundation for this and many other summer events festivals whose impacts resound far beyond their venues, and left a deep and lasting impression on the social and cultural fabric of this place,” says acclaimed Newfoundland performer Jim Payne.
Shiner escorted Newfoundland musicians to the Mariposa Folk Festival at Toronto Island from 1975-77. In 1980, she was invited by the Terreneuviens Français of Cape St. George to take programming and recruiting for the first Une Longue Viellée festival, which brought together
French artists from the Atlantic provinces and St-pierre-et-miquelon.
Shiner has made a lifelong commitment to women’s equality and taken care to put a spotlight on many female artists from rural communities.
Page is a well-respected carpenter in St. John’s. He volunteered his know-how to build
the stages at Une Longue Viellée festival and volunteered as the chief carpenter at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival for nearly a decade. Page has always made an effort to hire young musicians on his crews.
The couple has been living in St. John’s since 1984, where they are near to their children, Claire and Ian, and two granddaughters, and continue to volunteer for and support the organizers of the folk festival as much as possible.
“Susan and Rick are the white-haired hippies who got out to see every ounce of the great music that consistently keeps coming up locally in St. John’s and from away. They listen, they sing and they dance with more gusto than any of us ‘kids’ ever could,” says Geraldine Hollett, singer with the musical group The Once. “If they love your band, they will be the best groupies you could ever hope to have. If they hate your band, they’ll likely show up anyway because they get what makes and keeps a community.”
When, in June, Susan heard the cancer prognosis that she has little time left, she asked two questions of her medical team: will I be there for the birth of the second baby of my daughter, Claire? Will I be there for the show of my son, Ian, with Shred Kelly at the folk festival?