2019 was a great year for arts and business partnerships in Newfoundland and Labrador. Here on this blog, we covered 44 such stories throughout last year – showing that the connection between these two communities is stronger than ever.
The arts and business sectors have so much to teach and offer one another and when the two work together, great things can happen. And there are so many ways in which the business community can show their support for the arts besides straight-up sponsorships, like hiring an artist to lead a creative workshop or team-building session, commissioning an artist to create a unique piece to show appreciation for clients and staff, or perhaps sharing some business skills with an artist to help them advance their careers. And likewise, there are many ways that artists can partner with business to help create colourful and creative communities.
Here are some of our favourite stories from 2019.
1 – Eastern Edge Gallery & Capital Ready Mix
When Eastern Edge Gallery was looking for some sand for an exhibit (40 tonnes to be exact) back in the spring, Capital Ready Mix answered the call, in a big way.
The sand formed the basis of artist Joshua Vettivelu’s large-scale sculpture “Surface Tension (or What Holds an ‘Us’ Together),” which was inspired by the fishing boat that rescued Tamil refugees off the coast of Newfoundland in 1986. The sculpture, as described on the gallery’s website, employed “the physics of surface tension (how sand holds itself together), to create a metaphor of how citizenship (or the creation of an ‘us’) becomes foundational to who we are able to extend humanity to.”
Many hands came together to help create this epic piece of art. When Eastern Edge reached out to Business & Arts NL for help in fulfilling their request, Capital Ready Mix jumped on board (using a high-speed conveyer truck called a Stone Slinger to pump the sand into the space). A team of volunteers also quickly assembled at the gallery to shovel the sand into the sculpture, while a math professor from Memorial University helped calculate the cubic feet of the installation – a perfect example of the supportive spirit of community working together for a common goal.
Once the exhibit wrapped up about a month later, the gallery offered up the sand for free to any member of the community who had use for it, drawing gardeners, farmers and more.
2 – St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival & Quidi Vidi Brewery
This year, the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival decided to go all out to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Not only did they collaborate with Quidi Vidi Brewing Co. to create a special brew for the occasion (aptly titled “Director’s Cut”), but they also got 30 female artists from across the province to create the artwork for the cans (chosen in collaboration with Eastern Edge Gallery). In addition, the label template was designed by creative branding agency Perfect Day – making this a truly local collaborative effort. (Click here to read the full post.)
3 – Artists Kyle Bustin, Julie Lewis & Mary Brown’s
Mary Brown’s had a lot to celebrate in 2019 with their 50th anniversary and return to downtown St. John’s. They decided to add some colour (and lots of it) to their new location at the corner of Water and Adelaide Streets, commissioning artist Kyle Bustin to create an incredible, three-story mural on the exterior of the building. The bright and beautiful (and big!) mural features scuba diving chickens, mer-moose and a whole cast of colourful characters in a Where’s Waldo-esque tribute to the city and the business’s Newfoundland roots. Artist Julie Lewis of SassyTuna Studio also created a beautiful mural inside the restaurant, capturing the spirit of community and the magic and nostalgia of growing up in St. John’s. (Read more here.)
4 – Artist Kevin-Barry Martin & Genesis Centre
It’s one thing to sit back and look at a finished piece of art, it’s quite another to be witness to its creation. When the Genesis Centre was looking for a fun way to infuse some art into their Pitch & Pick event back in the spring, they contacted Business & Arts NL, who in turn reached out to a number of artists to submit samples of their work. Ultimately, visual artist Kevin-Barry Martin was chosen to do a live painting demonstration during the event (in which the top start-ups from Genesis’ Evolution program pitch their business ideas to an audience). The result was an updated take on Vincent van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles” complete with a tablet, computer and some of Genesis branding built into the scene. (Wondering what happened to the painting afterwards? Click here to find out.)
5 – Artist Jackie Alcock & Corner Brook Plaza
What do you do when you have a big, blank wall in your shopping centre and a bunch of folks coming to town for Come Home Year? You hire an artist to decorate the walls with a bright, beautiful and welcoming Come Home Year message of course. That’s exactly what the team at Corner Brook Plaza did this past summer to commemorate the town’s big event. Local visual artist Jackie Alcock spent 115 hours sprucing up the stretch of wall with friendly periwinkles, icebergs, mermaids, and even a guestbook that people could sign and a growth chart for the kids. (Click here to see more of Alcock’s creation.)
6 – Films on the Go & St. John’s International Airport
Let’s face it – waiting around the airport for hours on end is not what people think of when they fantasize about their vacation. This past summer, St. John’s International Airport teamed up with the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival and their “Films On the Go” series to offer a variety of short films to travellers waiting around the Departures Lounge. The airport screened seven films total (four of which were from this province). The screenings were part of the airport’s YYT Entertainment Series, a regular feature that sees a variety of local artists share their talents with travellers from around the world – helping expose visitors to our local arts community and our heritage and culture at the same time. (Check out the full Spotlight here.)
7 – Perchance Theatre & Diamond Design
If you’re a business that’s looking for a more hands-on way to support the arts community, take a cue from Diamond Design. When the local jeweller realized they had some extra capacity in their finance department, they connected with Business & Arts NL to offer bookkeeping services to arts groups who could use some extra help, starting with Perchance Theatre in Cupids. While offering cash donations, auction items for fundraising events and similar initiatives are helpful, Diamond Design has shown that there are other ways to support the arts that are just as valuable. (Click here to learn more about how Diamond Design supports the arts.)