The Telegram (St. John’s) - - LOCAL -

A page A4 ar­ti­cle in The Telegram Nov. 22, “Pro­gram will en­hance N.L. cul­ture, her­itage,” in­cor­rectly at­trib­uted com­ments to au­thor Sharon Bala that did not re­flect what she said at the Sta­tus of Artist Act leg­is­la­tion an­nounce­ment held at the St. John’s Arts and Cul­ture Cen­tre Tues­day.

The ar­ti­cle in­ac­cu­rately stated that Bala “had not re­ceived fund­ing.” In fact, the leg­is­la­tion is not about fund­ing, but rather is a com­mit­ment to pay and treat artists fairly and pro­fes­sion­ally with con­tracts, pay­ment and re­course to ar­bi­tra­tion.

The ar­ti­cle wrongly quoted Bala in say­ing she de­scribed the leg­is­la­tion as a “fan­tas­tic pro­gram” and a “vi­brant re­source.” “They make me sound like a cheer­leader for this leg­is­la­tion when, in fact, any op­ti­mism I might have is ex­tremely cau­tious, es­pe­cially given the axe hang­ing over more than half our li­braries,” Bala said Wednesday.

“I am a cheer­leader for the fan­tas­tic cul­tural pro­grams and in­sti­tu­tions of this prov­ince — Art­snl, the Arts & Let­ters Awards, and the Writ­ers’ Al­liance of NL and the cre­ative writ­ing pro­gram at Memo­rial. They are the fan­tas­tic and vi­brant re­sources that al­low this prov­ince to punch well above its weight on the na­tional lit­er­ary scene.”

Bala said the govern­ment would like peo­ple to be­lieve the Sta­tus of the Artist leg­is­la­tion demon­strates a com­mit­ment to the arts, but ac­tions speak louder than leg­is­la­tion an­nounce­ments and it is im­por­tant to watch the govern­ment’s ac­tions and pay less at­ten­tion to its words.

In a post­ing on her web­site, Bala wrote that be­ing of­fered a podium and a mi­cro­phone is to be given a po­si­tion of priv­i­lege and she used that priv­i­lege to say a few words on Tues­day. “I grew up in a home with very few books,” she said. “My par­ents are not big read­ers and back when I was a kid there wasn’t a lot of money for ex­tras. But my town had a great li­brary so there was al­ways a tower of pa­per­backs on the floor by my bed. With­out those books, I would never have dis­cov­ered the joy of read­ing. And with­out the vi­brant cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions in this prov­ince, I would never have be­come a writer. The Writ­ers’ Al­liance, Art­snl, the Arts & Let­ters Awards, the classes at MUN and their writ­ers-in-res­i­dence — these were the cru­cial re­sources that made my ca­reer pos­si­ble. As writ­ers, we have been very con­cerned about the im­pact of aus­ter­ity, not just on our liveli­hoods, but on the op­tions avail­able for to­mor­row’s writ­ers and artists. I hope that in en­act­ing this Sta­tus of the Artist leg­is­la­tion the govern­ment is sig­nalling a re­newed com­mit­ment to the arts. We stand, just steps away from a pub­lic li­brary, my pub­lic li­brary, and I hope this too has mean­ing, that it in­di­cates a com­mit­ment to lit­er­acy and the govern­ment-funded re­sources that make lit­er­acy pos­si­ble.”

At the event, Bala read an ex­cerpt from her short story “But­ter Tea at Star­bucks,” not from her novel “The Boat Peo­ple,” as was re­ported.


Due to a pro­duc­tion er­ror, three names were miss­ing from a cap­tion ac­com­pa­ny­ing the page B1 photo and ar­ti­cle on the win­ners of the Berg Awards, pre­sented by the Cana­dian Home Builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion New­found­land and Labrador. Uniden­ti­fied were An­gela Pow­ers, Dave Kelly and Tessa Brin­ston, all from Gi­bral­tar De­vel­op­ment Ltd. Con­grat­u­la­tions to all Berg Award win­ners.

The Telegram re­grets the er­rors.

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