The Province of St. John’s – Finale

To begin I need to address the number of people who have contacted me concerning these entries.  I am not naive enough to believe that everyone reading will relate to the opinion included but I have not heard a whole lot of counter-point feedback thus far.  I am also considerably surprised by the number of people who I have not spoken with in months are still reading my site, it’s also good to know that I’m not alone in my reasoning.

Alright it’s time to put this to rest.

Last night having a conversation with a friend I was asked point-blank, “what exactly is it that is offending you so much?”  It surprised me a little that I found that question difficult to answer.  There’s a lot of answers I would deem acceptable including but not limited to the misrepresentation of my home town in such a manner it can apply to any rural area in the province.  Of course upon giving this as a response I was faced with another insightful yet daunting question to answer…. “So?”

He’s right.  At the risk of sounding like a self-pity seeking bayman it’s hard to sit here and try to say that this is a new concept.  I remember being a child not really comprehending where St. John’s was located let alone it’s significance and hearing the adults talking about how the government really doesn’t do a whole lot for the whole island.  Everything is centralized in the St. John’s and surrounding areas.  The further you get from the Avalon, the more you must fend for yourself as a community.

Was this the case?  If so is it still the case today?  The short answer is, in my opinion the argument can be made.  The long answer.. well that’s not something meant for this particular conversation.  Let’s just leave my stance on it as something I’d never lobby against or in favor.  At least not without considerably more research in the area.

For the visual artists that are outraged that they will not be able to attend CNA in Stephenville I offer my most sincere condolences but in absolute truth my outrage is not related to the program itself.  That being said I ask that you please not misunderstand intent. I am an avid supporter of saving the program, I just cannot lend my voice amongst a small albeit loud group that desire to claim that the location is the reason for the programs failure.

The very interesting part about the feedback I’ve been receiving concerning my entries is that a large number has actually come from St. John’s people themselves. Even going as far as to say that the programs location helps filter the people who truly want to do the program from the people who have a passing fancy that do it for kicks.

There’s essentially only a couple of points I have been trying to get across throughout this whole ordeal.

#1 – If distance (especially a few hour bus ride) is enough of an obstacle that it prevents you from wanting to do the course, you ARE NOT serious enough about said course.

To clarify I am NOT referring to not being physically or financially ABLE to travel.  There is something that cannot be helped, or at the very least will require some creative thinking to overcome.  When I mean distance, I’m talking about just the fact that a location is far from home,  in this case a 9 hr bus ride and about $100.  In the context of getting a quality education in the field you want to make a career of, these obstacles are inconsequential compared to the real world problems you’ll face when you graduate.

#2 – There is more to life than city life.  

This is a perspective that you will either grasp and understand or believe to be false.  I personally feel like I would be most comfortable in a blend of the two.  My ideal residence would be a place in a rural area but within driving distance of a major center.  I guess that would make me want to live in a suburb somewhere.  It may be vain but I also feel that it is this preference that allows me to see both sides of the coin.  I see the pros and cons of both types of living.

The point has been made over and over that St. John’s has the largest art scene of the island, it has more resources and more population therefore it’s the most obvious choice for the program.  The town of Stephenville does not have an abundance of art galleries, or a bustling art scene.  For the film and video students we don’t have an abundance of actors and a very limited number of locations, where St. John’s has both of them in droves.  As a journalist it’s difficult to find stories because we don’t have the rooms, or the parliament building, or a great deal of industry.  St. John’s has resources that’s obvious.

Does this mean that St. John’s is superior to Stephenville for these programs?  Sorry, I’m afraid it isn’t that simple.

What exactly is the applied arts programs supposed to do for its students?  I’m sure there’s a number of answers to this question but for me it boils down to essentially give them the skills and help them develop those skills to be able to be a success in their chosen artistry.  Music Industry & Performance does not just show you how to cut an amazing solo on a guitar, it provides you with the tools required to run yourself like a business.  To be able to stay in control with as much of your career as possible without the need to delegate to other methods.  As an artist in the visual arts program you are encouraged to think a little differently, try to find the beauty in what may not be the most obvious place and actually see the world we’re living in.  As a journalist you should be able to enter a community, become part of that community, and report on the stories that are dear to that community.

An artist that can only see the value in what society already advertises the value… the film maker that REQUIRES well-known and established locales to produce his work… the journalist that needs a busy news day in a community that has an abundance of activity in order to write a compelling story… these professionals can work in their fields, they can make living.  but the artist that can find beauty where no one thought to look… the filmmaker that can turn the most decrepit  location and tell a moving story… the journalist that can connect with the people in the community and tell the stories that affect them…  it is these people who will be remembered.

Stephenville doesn’t have a lot of sources for news, and not a lot of resources for art and film.. but it does have an atmosphere that fosters the creativity and considering this debate all started with a strong desire to preserve the applied arts is it really something you can just ignore?

Yes, I will agree that I’m sure coming from the big capital to the lowly Stephenville could cause a bit of culture shock.  It’s definitely an adjustment if you grew up in St. John’s to go to such a small town.  Again to that I say, Boo-Hoo.  Welcome to the real world where you’re not always going to get what you want the way you want it.

Two years ago if i went to do journalism and discovered it was in Corner Brook, or St. John’s.. Halifax.. even Vancouver… it was something that I wanted to do so I would do it.  It just so happens to was available nearby but as I said if it’s really a course you want to do location should not be that much of a problem.

#3 – I’m not saying EVERYTHING has to go to St. John’s.  Just THIS thing would be best here.

This part is the one that I rack my brain around the most.  How can people who are trying to make intelligent reasons why the program will be better in St. john’s yet not see what they are really saying.  They boil it down to more resources, more people… basically St. John’s has more stuff.  That’s it.  Every other point giving is an elaboration on that. (Save for the “It’s cheaper to live in St. John’s than Stephenville which was said on the Facebook page)

What I can’t seem to understand is the confused response that I was seeing coming from the ones making this claim, when other people pointed out “well based on that logic we should just move everything to St. John’s.”  To hear someone say that they are only referring to the topic at hand, but then using logic that can apply to just about everything and then not understand when that fact is pointed out is baffling.

We shouldn’t have a music program in Stephenville, there’s more venues in St. John’s for musicians to play. It should be here.
We shouldn’t have Salmon Festival in Grand Falls, that should be at mile one, there’s more people and more things to do in St. John’s than Grand Falls.
We shouldn’t have musuems in western Newfoundland, instead all the artifacts should be moved to the rooms in a “western Newfoundland exhibit” so more people can see them.
Want to start your own business??  Well St. John’s is definitely a better place for you than else where on the island.  So many people and potential customers.

I’ll admit some of these examples are exaggerated and a bit on the dramatic side… but the sentiment still stands true.  You can’t use logic that applies to everything and use it as “definitive reasons” to up the program from where it began to St. John’s, and then stand back appalled when it gets pointed out that the same arguments have been and will continue to be used to promote putting the entire province in the city.

Welcome to the province of St. John’s, Canada folks.

Finale

I did not want to put my voice to this discussion.  As I said the aforementioned, “Province of St. John’s” mentality is nothing new to me.  I’ve come into contact with it many times, and especially when the budget dropped and it was announced that instead of regional school boards, there will now only be one centralized in St. John’s.  There’s always something new happened causing the non-avalon folk to cry foul.

I really haven’t paid it much attention.  I feel it’s a mistake, that Newfoundland has so much more to offer the world than St. John’s.  This province can be a “have” province without trying to build up its industrial center to try to compete with other provinces. Spent wisely and spread throughout various industries over the entire island it’s almost limitless what Newfoundland could accomplish on the national, even international scale.

Of course it’s an idea that’ll never come to fruition, and there are plenty of advocates that would state that it is an unwise goal.  The part I can’t fathom is how you can hold such ideas.  I understand the convenience of having a vast number of luxuries in a single location.  But St. John’s will never be Vancouver.. or Toronto.. or Edmonton.. hell I doubt St. John’s would even make it a Halifax level… but why do we have to?

Why does there need to be a large massive city when the whole island is so diverse and has so much to offer other than trying to be a carbon copy of other cities.  Luckily at least someone gets the idea somewhat enough to preserve the downtown area, making St. John’s (especially the downtown area) unlike any other city in Canada… but other than a bit of heritage on the waterfront there really isn’t anything special about the city.

It’s bigger then Stephenville.. congrats.  It still gives the image of a child trying to emulate his older brothers.  Would the visual arts program still be on the cutting block if it was in St. John’s?  Maybe not, who knows.  What I do believe though is that even if it was, it would be an entirely different kind of education.  Does that mean better or worse?  Who knows?

I’ve said my peace, it’s out of my system now.  Ladies and gentlemen I bid you adieu

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