The 32nd annual ArtsNL Awards were presented at The Rooms on Friday night, to honour the accomplishments of various Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The awards are unique in that nominations for the awards are submitted by members of the arts community and general public, then council members of ArtsNL vote by secret ballot to select the finalists and winners.

ArtsNL Patron of the Arts Award: Rex Brown
CBC Emerging Artist Award: Eastern Owl
Memorial University Arts in Education Award: Catherine Wright
ArtsNL Hall of Honour Award: Douglas Dunsmore
Cox & Palmer Arts Achievement Award: Chad Stride
BMO Bank of Montreal Artist of the Year Award: Opera on the Avalon

Rex Brown

The ArtsNL Patron of the Arts Award recognizes a person, business, or organization that has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the arts through innovative, community, or sustained support of artistic activity.

♦ Brown earned multiple degrees at MUN: Bachelor of Commerce, a Bachelor of Arts, and a Masters in Philosophy.
♦ He taught from 1968 to 1999 at schools in Corner Brook and Deer Lake, and was the chief writer of a grade eight history text called Voyage to Discovery: A History of Newfoundland and Labrador since 1800.
♦ Brown also served as a writer for various curriculum projects for the Canada Studies Foundation, and was involved with the provincial teachers association in a number of capacities through the 1970s and 80s.
♦ In the late 1980s he combined forces with poet Al Pittman and club manager George Daniels, and launched the March Hare Festival. It’s still going, 30 years later.
♦ The March Hare is the longest running literary festival in the province.
♦ He has published a book, Out from the Harbour: Outport Life Before Resettlement through Flanker Press.

Eastern Owl

The CBC Emerging Artist Award recognizes new and undisputed talent that has earned significant recognition for a piece of work or a generally out-sized impact on the scene.

♦ Performed dozens of shows in 2016, including The City of St. John’s New Years Eve concert, to kick off Canada’s 150 celebrations.
♦ Their music is heralded for welcoming new audiences to indigenous music.
♦ As indigenous women, they represent a strong voice for their culture, which is something the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre saw immediately, and gave them space to practice, develop, and grow as artists.
♦ Eastern Owl has worked with the centre for a number of events in return, participating regularly in the Spirit Song Gala for reconciliation through collaboration, and In Her Name, a vigil for missing and murdered women and girls of Newfoundland and Labrador.
♦ Released their debut record, Not Quite Like You, in December 2016.
♦ Just this week, they released a new video, shot by novelist turned filmmaker, Kenneth J. Harvey:

Catherine Wright

The Memorial University Arts in Education Award recognizes an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to arts in education in Newfoundland and Labrador over a period of years.

♦ Wright grew up in a family where experimentation and creative expression were valued and encouraged: her father was the artist and arts educator, Don Wright, plus her mother was an early childhood educator.
♦ Her own career in arts education now spans over 25 years, and she’s known for her enthusiasm to see students bloom and grow artistically.
♦ Catherine has had several exhibitions of her visual work at Eastern Edge, the RCA Gallery, the Craft Council Gallery, and at the Anna Templeton Centre.
♦ She’s also been involved with dozens of multidisciplinary performances, often as a dancer, and has had regular involvement with the Festival of New Dance.
♦ Also performs as a storyteller, and recently became a provincial coordinator for Storytellers of Canada.
♦ She teaches at the Anna Templeton Centre, where she started as the instructor for children’s classes. She added program coordination to her duties there, and was an instrumental factor in the centre’s expanded outreach to schools.

Douglas Dunsmore

The ArtsNL Hall of Honour Award recognizes a person, group, or organization that has made a distinguished lifetime contribution to the cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador.

♦ His PhD thesis in Philosophy was titled “The Effect of Newfoundland Government Policy on Choral Music Education.”
♦ Dunsmore has worked extensively with Memorial University’s School of Music where he served as Director of Choral Activities as well as being an interim Director for the School.
♦ Repeatedly brought Memorial University choirs to success in national and international competitions; many of his students have become successful choral conductors themselves … including fellow 2016 ArtsNL Winner, and Cantus Vocum Chamber Choir founder Chad Stride!
♦ Has held leadership roles in national organizations including the National Youth Choir.
♦ A founding artistic director of the widely acclaimed international choral festival, Festival 500: Sharing the Voices.
♦ Performed as the conductor for the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra’s Philharmonic Choir from 1996 to 2016.

Chad Stride

The Cox & Palmer Arts Achievement Award recognizes a practicing artist who has made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador over a number of years.

♦ Stride hit his musical stride at an early age. At just 13, he was asked to be the permanent accompanist for his local church choir, and within a year was appearing at school assemblies, community celebrations, and events.
♦ Completed both a Bachelor of Music and Music Education from Memorial University, with the support of a number of scholarships, and his name regularly popping up on Dean’s lists. He also has a Maters of Music, Choral Conducting and received the Medal of Excellence for Graduate Studies.
♦ Stride has been involved with things like the Shallaway Youth Choir, the MUN Festival Choir, the and Newfoundland and Labrador Symphony Philharmonic Choir.
♦ Founded the Cantus Vocum Chamber Choir. The group has recorded eight albums since 1999, and have appeared in multiple broadcasts for RogersTV, NTV, and CBC. They’ve also commissioned works by five Canadian composers, and have sung and promoted this new music worldwide.
♦ The Cantus Vocum Chamber Choir has played in 14 countries, including England, France, Belgium, Germany, Hungry, Sweden, and Denmark … including a show at the Vatican during a 10-day tour they took through Italy in July 2004.
♦ Stride has been an organizer, adjudicator, and performer at many music festivals such as Festival 500 and the Kiwanis Music Festival.

Opera on the Avalon

The BMO Bank of Montreal Artist of the Year Award recognizes the art or activity of a person, group or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador.

♦ Known as “Canada’s newest opera company in North America’s oldest city.”
♦ They commissioned their first piece of original work in 2016, “Ours,” which had a world premiere on July 1, 2016 – coinciding with the 100 year anniversary of the battle of Beaumont Hamel.
♦ “Ours” featured music composed by Juno award-winning Canadian composer John Estacio with libretto by acclaimed local writer Robert Chafe.
♦ The two-act grand opera was the first Canadian Opera set in NL.
♦ They’re also known for their  specially developed education and outreach programs in their communities, including at-risk youth, indigenous communities, and new Canadians.
♦ Opera on the Avalon were responsible for the “Garden of Tears” on the lawn of the Arts & Culture Centre last year. Sculpture Jim Maunder made 1,500 unique and handmade forget me nots as an installation to honour local lives lost during WWI.They sold for $125 a piece, with proceeds going to both Opera on the Avalon and local veteran charities.