Field Notes

Cover of Riddle Fence #3, featuring “Shelagh” by John Haney, 2006 (detail)

No new NLAC funding
Annnd here’s the provincial budget story you haven’t heard yet.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (NLAC), the province’s largest arts grant-giving body, was hoping to get its funding doubled over three years, similar to what happened between 2006 and 2008 as a result of the Williams government’s blueprint for development and investment in culture, which was based on a white paper by the province’s association of cultural industries.

But the precariousness of the world economic climate means that no new funding will be allocated to NLAC this year.

“We hoped, but we didn’t really expect it,” says NLAC chair and writer Carmelita McGrath.

Still the budget isn’t all bad news for the organization, which provides grants directly to artists and artist organizations in addition to giving support for festivals, artist travel, and awards.

First of all, McGrath is grateful the organization didn’t take a funding cut.

“We think it means that the government gets the value of arts and culture,” she says.

There was some disappointment, though. She says they thought might get “a little something.”

For the most part, arts funding remained static, with only small increases to the NL Film Development Corporation and the Arts and Letters Awards, as well as a continuation of the $250,000 promised in 2008 to make up for cuts to federal export programs.

McGrath is not discouraged by the news. She says the organization hasn’t given up on its new goal.

“We’ve developed a really good relationship with government, that’s part of the encouraging thing,” she says. “We are ready as soon as circumstances change to go back to government and have our request reconsidered.”

Riddle me this
Riddle Fence Managing Editor Mark Callanan looks for literature that surprises him.

That’s what the pieces that comprise the local literary journal’s third edition have in common.

“We live in an age of media bombardment,” Callanan says. “So much of it is just noise that I think literature is that which cuts through the noise, so that’s what I look for—something that screams at me louder than all the static and makes me pay attention to it.”

Riddle Fence, he says, “looks for good writing wherever it should come from and tries to combine it together in an intelligent, eloquent, and irreverent way.”

This edition, released on April 6, boasts work by Russell Wangersky, Ed Riche, and Monica Kidd. Riddle Fence is about a hundred pages of what Callanan calls the province’s embarrassment of riches.

“We’re in a period of intense creativity right now,” he says, much like NL’s cultural renaissance of the late 70s and early 80s. “There’s a current of energy running through the literary community.”

The deadline for the third edition has already passed, but the deadline for the fourth will soon be set.

Play together
Unlike visual arts, music, and writing, the St. John’s theatre community didn’t have an industry association—until now.

Aiden Flynn of Rabbittown Theatre says the seed of the Metro Theatre Alliance was formed at a public meeting on cultural venues.

“We thought it might be a good idea to look into an organization that could unify some of our opinions on the professional level when it comes to policy matters,” Flynn says.

Another meeting was held on March 27, and a steering committee was formed to determine the organization’s structure. Flynn says many organizations and theatre practitioners are interested in coming together.

“There seems to be more things that can be achieved through an alliance of this sort.”

The alliance aims to organize a campaign to promote professional theatre.

The idea of creating a theatre awards event is also being considered. Flynn calls it “a great way to profile the professional theatre community.”

The alliance is supposed to get off the ground in a few months.

Visual art award deadline approaches
The Excellence in Visual Arts (EVA) awards deadline for nominations is April 15. The annual awards show, hosted by Visual Artists Newfoundland and Labrador honours artists in four categories, the Large Year, the Long Haul, the Emerging Artist, and The Kippy Goins Award.

Check out for more information.

The third Sci-Fi on the Rock convention is part fan fest, part professional development weekend.

Peter Mayhew, the seven-foot-three Englishman who played Chewbacca, will appear as
well as Star Trek’s Christian Simpson, and Star Wars’ Vaughn Armstrong.

What’s more—you can have dinner with them for $50. The conference also features a
costume contest, a Quidditch match, and a charity auction.

There will also be a screening of Star Wars Inner Demons, a 35-minute long fan film that takes place 10 years before A New Hope and deals with Imperial efforts to clone Dark Jedi. The project started as part of last year’s convention.

Other events will teach you everything from how to write a sci-fi novel to becoming a Jedi Knight.

“The kids love it,” organizer Darren Hann says of the lightsaber workshop, adding that the adults do too.
There’s also linguistic enrichment offered at the basic Klingon instruction session taught by a local expert.
“We got a guy here in town who is pretty well fluent in Klingon,” Hann says.

Sci-Fi on the Rock is taking place at the Holiday Inn on April 25 and 26. A complete list of sessions and activities can be found at

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