Administered by the NL Arts Council, the annual NLAC Awards are a celebration of the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador. Artists of all disciplines are shortlisted alongside each other in each category. It was the 30th anniversary for the awards.

Memorial University Arts in Education 2014: Grant Etchegary (Music)

This award recognizes an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to arts in education in Newfoundland and Labrador over a number of years. Grant was shortlisted alongside Jean Hewson (music) and Dr. Caroline Schiller (music). Click here for a list of previous winners

Originally from Burin, Grant Etchegary provides a challenging repertoire to foster his student’s commitment to, and passion for, music. He began teaching in 1981, and takes an innovative approach to complex rhythms by encouraging students to envision the entire music phrase, before breaking it into smaller pieces.

He has long felt that music enriches a student’s learning experience – emotionally, creatively, socially, and intellectually. He recently retired as the instrumental music specialist at Holy Heart High School in St. John’s where he taught for years.

Etchegary also worked as a music teacher in other high schools, and was the recipient of a Prime Ministers Award for Teaching Excellence, awarded in 2003. It was Etchegary who spearheaded Holy Heart’s involvement in an international online music project connecting five Canadian schools with students in Finland, Switzerland, and China.

He’s also commissioned a number of original works for the concert band (all tied to Newfoundland and Labrador themes), and was the director of the Eastern School District Band.

He is himself a noted musician, having taught and performed across Canada. Etchegary studied at Memorial University, the University of Western Ontario, University of Regina, and Brandon University.

He’s heavily involved with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, as a principal bassoonist, played a key role with respect to launching the Rotary Music Festival, and is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Orchestra where he continues to evolve existing programs, improve outreach, and learning experiences for youth.

Cox & Palmer Arts Achievement 2014: Jim Duff (Music)

Recognizes a practicing artist who has made an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador over a number of years.Jim was shortlisted alongside Pam Hall (multi-disciplinary) and Janet McNaughton (writing). Click here for a list of previous winners.

Well known for his musical career that started in the 1970s, Jim Duff has written arrangements for countless national and regional CBC television and radio arts programs, as well as for the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra.

He’s been the chief arranger for the NSO Gala and NSO Big Band concerts for the last 20 years, producing some 500 plus arrangements. In that role, Duff has worked with artists like Kim Stockwood, the Irish Descendants, Damhnait Doyle, Denis Parker, Ron Hynes, Anita Best, and Hey Rosetta.

Duff has donated a number of his compositions over the years, and those who have performed his work acknowledge he writes it so proficiently that rehearsals are especially smooth. Duff was a trombonist and arranger for the Ed Goff Big Band, and continued as director for some years after Goff’s passing.

It was also Duff who composed and conducted the 500-person performance at the opening and closing of the Canada Winter Games, in Corner Brook. He also released recordings of his compositions such as 1995’s Jazz Mass for strings, brass, winds, choir, and a jazz quintet.

Over the last 40 years, there’s scarcely a note of instrumental music that doesn’t owe something to Jim Duff. He’s mentored countless students from grade five to university, and influenced colleagues and collaborators. Duff is a steward of music in Newfoundland and Labrador, but impressive is the fact that so much of what he’s produced, composed, and arranged has become a vehicle for other Newfoundland and Labrador musicians to reach their full potential.

CBC Emerging Artist 2014: Aaron Collis & Emilia Bartellas (Music)

Recognizes new and undisputed talent. It is awarded to an emerging artist, group, or arts organization that has earned significant recognition for a piece of work or a generally out-sized impact on the scene. the duo were shortlisted alongside Ally Baird (visual) and Audrey Hurd (visual). Click here for a list of previous winners.

Aaron Collis and Emilia Bartellas are members of the trad band The Dardanelles, and with them they have toured through Canada and the US, and performed in Scotland and Australia.

Collis and Bartellas are reflective of and ambassadors for the culture and heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador through traditional music for accordion and fiddle. Both are hungry to find, learn, and share the music of their predecessors, bridging it to a new generation.

And, both are sharing their instrument playing skills with students of their own. In December 2013, the duo released their own self-titled debut record, and offer the transcriptions for tracks on it through their website for others to learn.

They have each received the Dermot O’Reilly Legacy Award for their work promoting traditional music and their tradition-bearer leadership. The two are dedicated musicians and their high-quality shows make them exemplary artists for other young musicians to look up to.

Of their performances, it’s been said that their ability to make it seem effortless speaks volumes of their talent, and audiences are left with a strong sense that they love what they do.

BMO Bank of Montreal Artist of the Year 2014: Deanne Foley (Film)

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 in 2014. Deanne was shortlisted alongside Paul Bowdring (writing) and Rob Power (music). Click here for a list of previous winners.

Calm and confident in the director’s seat, Deanne Foley started filmmaking with two shorts of her own called Trombone Trouble and The Magnificent Molly McBride.

Foley quickly moved to features, writing and directing the popular and award-winning Beat Down (2012) and Relative Happiness (2014). Beat Down was nominated for three Canadian Comedy Awards and won Best Debut at the Toronto Female Eye Film Festival. It opened the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival and screened at nearly a dozen others throughout Canada and the US, in China, Norway, and the Czech Republic. The film was also broadcast on TMN, HBO Canada, Movie Central and SHAW OnDemand.

Relative Happiness continued building on Foley’s success, screening at Cannes and winning Best Actress at the LA Comedy Festival. It too opened the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, and won additional awards at others. The film premieres in the US at Cinequest 25 in San Jose and is one of six Canadian films selected for Telefilms first Cinema Tour across the US.

In 2014, she was selected for the prestigious TIFF Talent Lab where she was mentored by individuals like Claire Denis and Sandra Oh. She also finds time to mentor, herself. She directed a tv pitch for CBC’s ComedyCoup called The Lease and was a Producer for the NIFCO PictureStart film Sadie.

Foley has directed two episodes of Republic of Doyle and currently has two features in development funded by Telefilm, called Shoot Me and I Hate Rich Kids.

Patron of the Arts: John O’Dea

In addition to the above awards, the NLAC also announced this year’s Patron of the Arts which goes to John O’Dea. This award, given to a person, business or organization, recognizes an ongoing commitment to the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador through innovative, community, or sustained support of artistic activity. Click here for a list of previous winners.

Considered by many to be a quiet, unsung hero, John O’Dea has volunteered and championed initiatives for the Newfoundland and Labrador arts and cultural community for the last 30 years.

O’Dea was involved in establishing Riddle Fence, to fill the void left by the loss of TickleAce, offering his legal services to secure charitable status and assist with the incorporation the publication. He went further for the new literary journal, signing on as a board member for two years. He served as the first Chair and guided both the board of directors, and the separate editorial board, through the creation of the first six issues.

He also put his fundraising and coordinating skills to task for Opera on the Avalon and the Garrick Theatre in Bonavista. After hosting operas at the venue in 2011 and 2012, the high costs of moving large-scale operatic productions caught up and threatened to discontinue the shows for 2013.

O’Dea agreed to co-chair an effort to fundraise for the continuation of the presentations to ensure rural access to the arts. From 2009 to 2012, O’Dea was a board member for the Tuckamore Festival, enthusiastically contributing to fundraising initiatives and art auctions.

Among other roles too numerous to mention, he has also hosted artists in his Trinity home to assist the festival. O’Dea was also involved as the Chair of the Random Passage Trust, and once involved with that board, he worked for several years providing his legal services and expertise to ensure the longevity of the Trust itself and the Random Passage Tourist Site.

Three years after the Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers was established, he came forward to help his brother, and the award’s founder Brian O’Dea, keep the award for unpublished writers going.

O’Dea was a key player in establishing Business and Arts NL, a new organization created to broker relationships between the professional arts and cultural community and the corporate sector.

He has recently accepted an invitation to become the Chair for The Rooms Foundation’s board of directors. The foundation will assist the operating board with managing established relationships with major donors as they expand the capital campaign Where Once They Stood We Stand, which is tasked with raising $20 million to create the largest World War I commemorative program in Canada.

Fortis Properties Arts Hall of Honour: Pam Hall & Eastern Edge

This honour recognizes a person, group or organization that has made a distinguished lifetime contribution to the cultural life of Newfoundland and Labrador. The inductees for 2015 were artist Pam Hall and Eastern Edge gallery.


The multi-talented Pam Hall has worked in a number of artistic disciplines over the years in her active professional career. She’s an educator, author/illustrator, arts advocate, documentarian, film Production Designer, and a visual artist. Eastern Edge considers Hall to be one of its founding members, following her first exhibition there in 1986.

She has written and directed films of her own including the Atlantic Film Festival award-winning Under the Knife and Mending the Invisible Wound. Hall was also the illustrator behind Al Pittmann’s Down by Jim Long’s Stage in 1978.

In 1987, Hall connected with Paul Pope who was First AD on Finding Mary March, for which she was Production Designer. Her attention to detail, fearlessness, creativity, and ‘can do’ attitude caused Pope to hire her for that same role on every film he went on to make.

She convinced former premier Brian Peckford to let her make a plaster cast of his face to use in Secret Nation. Hall unwaveringly asked “how big?” when Pope explained a recreational submarine was needed for Rare Birds and her work on Above and Beyond is a crowning achievement.

She was chosen as the inaugural artist-in-residence for MUN’s School of Medicine from 1997 to 2000 and she has taught graduate students throughout North America since 1998 as a senior faculty member at Goddard College in Vermont.

Much of Hall’s own contemporary artwork is deeply rooted in the rural communities and culture of Newfoundland and Labrador. Her recent multi-faceted and soulful 10 year retrospective installation HouseWorks at The Rooms last year is a stellar example.

Another is The Coil – a History in Four Parts which toured nationally, and to Japan in 1994-95. These are but two highlights in a full ongoing career of a diverse art practice. Hall has been involved with many arts organizations through the years including NIFCO, RCA, and ACI.

She is seen by many in the professional arts community as a role model and a reliable individual who can be called upon for guidance. Many professional artists cite inspiration from Hall who has encouraged the idea that artistic process can be a way of life.


Founded in 1984, Eastern Edge Gallery, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, was established to continuously provide support and space for visual artists with critically engaged, rigorous programming by local, national, and international cultural producers.

The only ‘artist-run’ space in Newfoundland and Labrador has its finger on the pulse of contemporary art, presenting highly-considered, exciting exhibitions that draw in the general public.

Eastern Edge is an ambassador for art made in Newfoundland and Labrador, presenting it locally and sharing it with venues elsewhere. A recent example of that was the WADE IN initiative – a collaborative project bringing curators from around the world together, leading to provincial artists gaining exposure in countries like Ireland and Iceland.

The public and artists are able to instantly connect with one another at Eastern Edge. The work of artists involved with Eastern Edge is immeasurably enriched through the extensive programming offered ranging from lecture series to art crawls and film nights. It is a hub of social activity for the art community as a place where ideas can be exchanged.

The monthly Words in Edgewise event has been a popular one since inception, and artists experimenting with new ideas are presented in the Rogue Gallery. Eastern Edge also runs the highly visible annual 24 Hour Art Marathon that has recently evolved into Hold Fast: A Contemporary Art Festival. Now in its eighth year, it continues to grow, with the addition of off-site downtown locations to accommodate the increased level of participation.

The gallery is also known for its role in providing many new graduates from Grenfell’s Fine Arts program with their first arts-focused employment through limited term assistant director positions.


This Year’s Artwork by Elias Semigak

In addition to money, artwork will be presented to the winners in each of the categories. This year’s winners will receive pieces from visual artist Elias Semigak. Semigak, originally from Nain, is a stone carver whose work is rooted in nature, his Inuit culture, and ancestry while exploring contemporary influences of his own generation. Of his work, Semigak says that it is his “hope that my art will be as enduring in nature as the stone itself.”