Meeting its mandate?

Tara Bradbury
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Public forums being held by Arts Council to get idea of how plan is working

Go on, be honest — the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council wants to know what you really think of it.

The arts council is holding a series of forums across the province over the next month, seeking input from the public on how well it’s delivering its mandate to foster and promote the creation and enjoyment of the arts for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

You don’t have to be a member of the arts community; the opinions of all members of the public are welcome and wanted, said Reg Winsor, the council’s executive director.

“It could be OK for us to sit around the office or with the board and say, ‘OK, this is what we’re going to do,’ but quite honestly, we want buy-in from the community,” Winsor explained.

“This is their arts council; we want their feedback as to areas where there are changes or improvements needed to go forward for the next three years. Basically, we want to hear from everyone and their thoughts, suggestions and changes or improvements, or even some new areas that we may need to consider ,as well.”

The council held similar forums five years or so ago, when it was developing its first strategic plan, and as a result of the feedback it was given by members of the public about what they felt was needed at the time, some new programs, including the Community Arts Program, which provides funding to community-based arts organizations and groups for projects like arts workshops, presentations, and productions.

The council’s annual arts awards gala, which was held in St. John’s every year, also underwent changes as a result of people’s opinions.

“What we got last time around was, ‘Listen, you need to take this show on the road,’ and so we put the show in Corner Brook and one in Labradory City over the past couple of years,” Winsor explained.

“From time to time there’s a suggestion for new awards or even changes to the existing awards, and that kind of feedback is always useful, as well.”

A forum was held in Labrador City last night, and another will be held at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay tonight. Others will take place in:

•    St. Johns, LSPU Hall, Jan. 12

•    Mount Pearl, Admiralty House Museum, Jan. 13

•    Placentia, Placentia Arts Centre, Jan. 17

•    Marystown, Marystown Hotel, Jan. 18

•    Port Union, Sir William Coaker Heritage Foundation Interpretation Centre (“The Factory”), Jan. 19

•    Eastport, SUF Hall, Jan. 20

•    Rocky Harbour, Fisherman’s Landing Inn, Jan. 24

•    Corner Brook, Glynmill Inn, Jan. 25

•    Stephenville, Arts and Culture Centre, Jan. 26

•    Grand Falls-Windsor, Mount Peyton Hotel, Jan. 27

•    Gander, Joseph R. Smallwood Arts and Culture Centre, Jan. 28

All sessions will take place between 7 and 9 p.m.

For those who are unable to attend any of the forums, the council has developed an online survey allowing anyone interested to answer questions and provide their opinions anonymously. The survey will be available on the council’s website at until Jan. 31.

A consultant — who is also facilitating the forums — will compile the information gathered and present a report to the council board, which will review it at the end of February.

A new strategic plan is expected to be effect in early April.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre, Admiralty House Museum Placentia Arts Centre Marystown Hotel Port Union Landing Inn Glynmill Inn

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Labradory, Labrador Happy Valley Goose Bay Mount Pearl Marystown

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