The 33rd ArtsNL awards were held in Labrador City on April 28 and one of the organizers said they had a blast.
“It was an excellent weekend and we could not be more thankful for the hospitality we received in the town,” said Joshua Jamieson, Communications Officer and Event Coordinator for ArtsNL. “Everywhere we went it was incredible, just an amazing experience. I think that experience was the same for all our finalists, staff, and council members, everyone came away from the weekend really enthusiastic. It was excellent.”
Jamieson said they travel the awards show every two years and the last time it was held in Labrador was in 2010 in Happy Valley-Goose Bay so they were due for a visit back to the Big Land. He said the support from the local arts community was great, with many local artists being integrated into the show or attending. He said some of the feedback they got from the artists who travelled to attend the show was that they were grateful for the opportunity to be able to meet and network with people from Labrador in the professional arts community.
Many the artists who won awards have connections to Labrador as well, Jamieson said. One of those is Beni Malone, winner of the Arts Achievement Award, which recognizes an outstanding contribution to the arts over a period of years,
“Beni is somebody who has been incredibly dedicated to getting himself connected with a large number of rural communities in Newfoundland and especially Labrador,” Jamieson said. “He spent a large portion of his career trying to focus on that kind of activity. For us it was really special for him to receive the award in Labrador.”
Malone works with different groups to develop and bring circus, performing arts and physical arts programs to young people in Labrador. As a matter of fact, the very next day after the awards he was heading to Makkovik.
Another winner with an even more local connection was Alex Saunders, who lives in happy Valley-Goose Bay. Saunders won the Lawrence Jackson Writer Award, which is to ‘encourages and promotes original, creative thought in all genres of writing.’ Saunders treated the audience to a reading from his work as well.
“His work was so perfectly suited to being read aloud and he really pulled the audience in,” Jamieson said. “That was a special moment for the awards show for sure.”
The show was held at the Lab West Arts and Culture Centre, which Jamieson said was perfect for the show.
“Chris Ball at the Lab West Arts and Culture Centre was great to work with for the event, it was great to use that space. Where we have been travelling the arts awards outside of St. John’s every second year I have the great fortune of being able to work in a number of the different Arts and Culture Centre’s across the province and the centre in Lab West is gorgeous. The space is excellent and Chris was really supportive to all of our team as we worked to put off the event.”
Overall, he said there was a great sense of community amongst everybody who was involved in putting the event together and there was a real celebratory feel about it.