I came to St. John’s in 2008. At that time the trickle down oil effect was being celebrated around kitchen tables as Newfoundland and Labrador’s big break. Residents reveled in being a “have” province and those of us in the cultural community waited with baited breath on what that could mean for us.
As the years went by I came to recognize St. John’s, and NL more broadly, as a very transitory place. Artists came for school, studio space, or their first big break, but many would eventually hit the wall. There are only so many jobs, only so much money in the grants system, and only so many venues, festivals, and galleries to support them.
Though everyone tries their best, squeezing pennies and starting new projects, there comes a time when many decide to go. This decision nearly always comes down to access; access to education, job opportunities, or greater professional networks with better infrastructure.
Like any other workers, artists will move to develop their careers and unfortunately (for us) Newfoundland and Labrador was not where they saw that happening. But why not? Below is a partial list of those who have moved on in recent years. It is not perfect, nor is it meant to be a memorial, more a statement of potential. Imagine if we could stop the brain drain, imagine how rich our communities and economies could be.
I am encouraged that artists will continue to emerge here and some are able to stay. However the root problem remains. This province lacks vision and the ability to retain young professionals across the board. So next time the province touts the cultural industry as alive and well, I’d encourage you to think about this list of 236 names who have taken their ideas, vision, and creativity with them.
Adam Joe / Adam Clarke / Adam Hickey / Adam Tiller / Adena Cahill / Adriana Maggs / Aimee Wall / Alan Jeans / Alana Fraize / Alanna Ward / Alona Power / Amanda Jernigan / Amanda Power / Amelia Curran / Andrew Ivimey / Ann Connors / Anna Wheeler / Annette Manning / Annie McEwen / Ariel Sharratt / Ashley Daw / Audrey Kay / Baptiste Neis / Beaver Sheppard / Blair Harvey / Bob Joy / Bob Sutherby / Brad Hodder / Brad Kilpatrick / Bridget Wareham / Bruce Johnson / Caroline Niklas-Gordon / Cathy Jones / Chang E Ling / Cherie Pyne / Chris Burke / Christine Taylor / Christopher House / Claire Asquith / Curtis Andrews / Damphnait Doyle / Dana Puddicombe / Daniel Banoub / Daniel Hughes / Darryl Hopkins / Dave Lander / Dave Whitten / David Blackwood / David Kaarsemaker / David Newman / Debora Joy / Denis Longchamps / Derm Kean / Diana Daly / Diana Jones / Didi Gillard Rowlings / Don Ellis / Dorothy Crutcher / Dylan Brenton / Edmund Stapleton / Eilish McBreaty / Erin Cossar / Eric Penny / Erika Stephens Moore / Erin Whitney / Evelyn Osborne / Glenn Nutio / Graham Kennedy / Greg Ryan / Hannah Epstein / Helen Gregory / Jacob Rolfe / Jake Fisher / James Daly / James Hawksley / James Richardson / Jamie MacDonald / Jamie March / Jane Maggs / Janine O’Riely / Jason Noble / Jay Kimball / Jeff Sullivan / Jennifer Barrett / Jennifer Furlong / Jessie Walker / Jillian Keiley / Jim Maunder / Jim McEwen / Jimmy Rose / Joe Fowler / Joel Thomas Hynes / Joelle Blandford / John Haney / John Power / Johnny Harris / Johnny Versailles / Jon David Hynes / Jon Montes / Jonah Emke / Jonathan Green / Jonathan Lewis / Jonathan Monro / Jonathan Watton / Jordan Bennett / Jordan Canning / JP Trepanier / Judith Morrissey / Justin Critch / Justin Davis / Justin Guzzwell / Justin Tilley / Justin Tobin / Karen Dwyer / Karlie King / Kate Story / Kathy Oke / Kathleen Winter / Kelli Kieley / Kitty Scott / Krystin Pellerin / Kyla Squires / Kyle Bustin / Kyle Hynes / Laura Sheppard / Lee Hanlon / Liam Owens / Liam Tobin / Lisa Wilson / Luke Major / Mallory Fisher / Mara Pellerin / Maria Mercer / Mark Bennett / Mark O’Brien / Mark Prier / Mark White / Marthe Bernard / Martin Poole / Mary Decker / Mary Lewis / Mathias Kom / Matrina White / Matt Power / Matt Spence / Matthew Hornell / Meaghan Harding / Meg Warren / Megan Greeley / Michael Chiasson / Michael Coady / Michael Flaherty / Michael Winter / Michael Young Mikiki / Miranda MacDonald / Mitchell Wescott / Nicole Finder / Nicole Power / Nicole Underhay / Nik Sexton / Nivek P Enworb / Patrick Boyle / Patrick Neary / Paul Schiralli-Earle / Percy Hynes White / Pete Mills / Peter Andrews / Peter Duchemin / Petrina Bromley / Rachel Ryan / Rakel Munro / Randal Arsenault / Ray Walsh / Rebekah Cuff / Renee Hackett / Rhiannon Thomas / Richard Andy Malone / Rick Mercer / RN Wagner /Robbie Sharp / Ron Anonson / Ryan Dillon / Ryan Tilley / Samantha Chaulk / Sara Spence / Sarah Feldbloom / Sarah Gibbons / Sarah Hillock / Scott Keating / Scott McLellan / Sean McCann / Sebastien Spence / Shannon Hawes / Shawn Warmington / Sheilah Mackinnon / Sherri Levesque / Sherry White / Shoshanna Wingate / Sophie Broders / Soren Sigerdson / Stacey Croucher / Stephanie Hawco / Stephen Quinlan / Stephen Drover / Stephen Dunn / Steve Cochrane / Steve Cowan / Susan Gale / Susan Kent / Suzen Statz / Tammy Macleod / Tara Jane Feener / Teri Snelgrove / Terry Kelly / Terry MacEachern / Tim Ronan / Tina Maddigan / Todd Janes / Tom Power / Tommy Gushue / Torquil Colbo / Tracey Waddleton / Tristan Rehner / Victoria Fuller / Virginia Mitford / Wayne Johnston