Province of St. John’s – Part 3

Alright I’ll admit that last part went a little too much into a tangent and veered slightly off course so let’s get this back on track and dive back into this article.

“I have met many people in St. John’s and the surrounding areas who claim they would have loved to enrol in the program — if it wasn’t more than 800 kilometres away.”

There’s a lot about this statement that should be addressed, the first is just a broad statement on the quote itself.  This is a point I’ve seen brought up by more people than myself but I feel it holds up.  If you are really trying to be an artist.  Whether that is painting, music, acting, film… the medium is irrelevant.  If you truly have a passion for the craft that you want to make it your life a two-year stint and a few hours of driving away should NOT be the insurmountable obstacle that holds you back.  If the inconvenience of a bus ride is enough to stop the pursuit of your ambition then I beg the question how dedicated are you to said ambition.

As an artist you’re coming to come up against a lot more severe hardships than having to travel for education.

The second point I can’t help but address is the fact that this is clearly not an objective statement and an unfair one to make.  I will say with the utmost confidence that I would be able to converse with “many people in Stephenville and the surrounding areas” who would state the opposite.  Actually, I wouldn’t even limit it to Stephenville and Bay St. George.  I would talk to people from Labrador, Port Aux Basques, Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Grand Falls.. and I am willing to wager I can make just as compelling of a counter point as what was posted on CBC as news.

The difference?  I’m willing to look at such a conclusion for the bias that it is.  Of course if you walk around St. John’s you’ll find people wanting it closer, you’ll get that with any program in any province/state, anywhere you look.

“Even though I quit journalism school two months into my second year to write for media outlets back in St. John’s, I would enrol in the program again in a heartbeat if it was centralized in a larger urban centre.”

Once again I bring the point. If Journalism is something your passionate for… and you’ve already completed a year of the program.  I need to question the drive if location was such a big driving factor in leaving the course.


“If they wanted to save it, they should have moved it to St. John’s where people actually want to live,” Squires said in a Facebook post. “There’s a larger population, more people are willing to move there from other parts of the province, and there’s a MUCH larger art scene in the city. It’s easier for people to make connections and contacts within the city, easier to get a job afterwards, and easier to see yourself living there long-term. I would love to see this program saved but unless they’re willing to move all of their resources to St. John’s, it’s not going to happen.”

Once again it baffles me that this is a quote that was used on a news outlet.  “Where people actually want to live?”  I do offer my most humble apologies but there’s a huge difference between a desire to live and a need to live.  I’m sure there are a LOT of people who can be found that are not living in St. John’s because they WANT to, but because they NEED to.   By comparison the art scene is indeed larger here in the capital and you’re definitely bought to have an easier job networking, but like I said using the exact same logic one can argue that we should move EVERY school to St. John’s.

Hence this dives back into the urban area is superior to rural because of stuff.  Never mind the points that I made in the previous post.  The VA program gave students a free roaming area to produce their work and gave incredible landscapes and historical sights that could serve as inspiration, and despite the blatantly misleading claim of un-acceptance, the community is there for support.

“As an ex-journalism student at the Bay St. George campus, I have felt the pain many students struggle with in Stephenville. Dubbed the “S-ville blues” by some students, the feeling of isolation does not necessarily result in successful work the way it does for Gidge.”

This is going to be completely subjective because I seem to recall the author of this and witnessed the “S-ville blues” while being out on the town with group of friends having a blast.  I’ve lived in St. John’s for a number of years before returning to Stephenville and doing the journalism program.  During my 4 years I spent back home, (2 years working at the unofficial campus-bar Clancy’s, and 2 years as a Student of CNA) I have come to know a lot of the students from CNA.  I hosted open mic where most of them usually frequented, and I can honestly say that this article was the first I’ve heard of the S-Ville Blues.

In fact in the 4 years of socializing with a large number of CNA students spanning just about every course they offer at the Bay St. George/Crossing campus… the only people who I come across that had negative experiences were the ones that didn’t take the education serious enough and ended up not making it to graduation.  They would blame the town.. the instructors.. whatever they could to justify what happened.  This is in no way trying to indicate anything negative towards the author of the article that was merely a statement of my own experience with CNA students both as a student and as a member of the community.

(Of course I will give light that there are exceptions.  There are people who are just born city folk that will never be able to understand the value of not being in the center of it all. )

“More than 75 per cent of the students I started journalism with in 2011 are no longer in the program. With only two students graduating the two-year program in 2013, many wonder if journalism will be next on the chopping block.”

This stat may very well be a true one, but I cannot condone the sloppiness in the writing. The use of this as an example, not because of it being incorrect but misleading.  The author may or may not be correct that only two people in her class graduated the program… but that hardly indicates a “trend” to be worried about.  The year I graduated was 2011, and there were 6 graduates of a class of 6.   The following year 2012 had at the very least double digits.  I don’t know the exact figure but I would estimate it was between 10-15 graduates.

“How can we consider ourselves a “have” province when we consider all of the things that have been taken away from us with the 2013 provincial budget?”

Amen, FINALLY something we can agree on.

“As a journalist, I need the arts community to keep having gallery openings, public art shows, daring performance pieces, art by instruction projects, workshops and art marathons. I need film festivals. I need new exhibit openings at The Rooms. I need the arts community to keep doing what it does, so I can keep doing what I do.”

This is another point I have to address in the spirit of our CNA instructors.  I need to reiterate my original point.  No, I’m sorry you do not NEED public art shows, performance pieces, or art marathons to be journalist.  You do not NEED a new exhibition at The Rooms.  The education that CNA provides is designed to develop the skills to find and deliver the news.  The Stephenville location incubates the jounalistic trait that one will need to find the real stories.  When you need to put more thought into it than just simply deciding with club show or art gallery should I write about today… you need to really open your mind and take in the world around you and find the stories that people want to read.

“Keep the budget cuts coming. We don’t do it for the money anyway. We do it because we love it. We do it because it’s part of us and we can’t make it stop. I need this pen in my hand. He needs a paintbrush in his.

We’ll keep proving our worth. We will never stop painting, drawing, sculpting, writing, filming, dancing, teaching or learning. We will never stop loving art or making art.””

We’ll keep proving our worth and we will NEVER STOP!!!…. unless we gotta drive for a few hours. To Hell with that!

… Okay that last line was a little bitter.
Conclusion to come in the final part.. Part 4.



3 thoughts on “Province of St. John’s – Part 3

  1. I’m from Labrador and I had to travel 10 hours, including a ferry ride, to get to Stephenville for Journalism school. I never got to go home on long weekends, I couldn’t just take a bus when I felt like it and go visit my family, and journalism school was more than worth it. Right now I’m working three different jobs, and I could have more if I wanted, because of the education that I got from CNA in Stephenville. It’s all about a persons values and what they’re willing to put in. Like I said on the Save Visual Arts group, if someone truly wants to be an artist/journalist/filmmaker, it doesn’t matter where they have to go to do it, they will.
    I regret none of my time in Stephenville, except maybe who I spent my time with, but that is of no fault of anyone but mine.

    Happy to see these posts, Devin.

    1. Mandy, it is always a pleasure to hear from you. You are without question one of the people I had in mind when I was talking about going long distances for something they loved.

      I hope that I am not included among those you regret spending time with though lol.

      1. I thought you might be referring to me with the Labrador bit. I always read all of your posts anyway, but was particularly drawn to this one.

        No, you’re not one of the people I was referring to. If anything I wish we had spent more time together!


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