Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Talent Trust Holiday Guide

The holiday season is upon us!  Pick up unique, beautiful gifts for your friends and family and support Talent Trust artists!  Check out our holiday guide below:


REENY SMITH : Where you at Santa? 

Reeny was a Talent Trust scholarship recipient in 2010 and 2012, and won the Portia White Award in 2010.  Check out her new holiday album here


Three Talent Trust scholarship recipients in one album!  Edward received a scholarship in 2015 & 2016, David Potvin in 2011 & 2015, and India from 2017-2020.  India also received the Yuh Lih & Marion Quo Award in 2017 and the Raymond Simpson Award in 2019.  Check out their brand new album here.

 Gina Burgess received Talent Trust scholarships in 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2007. Click here for her new solo album!


LETITIA FRASER: Blue Magic Limited Edition Prints

Letitia Fraser won a Talent Trust scholarship and the 2011 Canada Games Young Artist of Excellence Award in 2018.  She has limited edition prints for sale here, a great gift for anyone!

CHARLES L BRAIN: Master goldsmith

Before becoming an internationally renowned goldsmith, Charles Lewton Brain won Talent Trust scholarships in 1984 and 1985.  His unique style and techniques make his pieces truly stunning.  Click here to see some of his jewelry. 


Jacqueline Steudler served as the Talent Trust Executive Director for 11 years.  She is an accomplished artist and art therapist. Jacqueline has some stunning pieces for sale at the Teichert Gallery, click here to see them.

SHAUNA MACLEOD: Black Crow Pottery

Shauna MacLeod was a Talent Trust scholarship recipient in 2008 and 2010.  Her ceramic art is beautiful and would make a great gift for anyone.  Click here to see the gorgeous pieces she has for sale. 


SHAUNTAY GRANT: Children's Books

Shauntay was a Talent Trust scholarship recipient in 1999.  Click here to check out her award-winning children's books that celebrate community, heritage, and Shauntay's African Nova Scotian roots.

K.R BYGGDIN: Wonder World

K.R. Byggdin received Talent Trust scholarships in 2020 and 2021.  They have just published their first novel, get your copy here!

JOHANNA SKIBSRUD: Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children's books
Johanna Skibsrud took home Talent Trust scholarships in 2002, 2003 and 2004.  Now an acocomplished author and Giller Prize winner, her books would make a wonderful addition to any reader's collection.  Click here for her bookstore.


ANNE-MARIE WOODS: Why Black Women Whisper

Anne-Marie Woods received a Talent Trust scholarship in 1996 and is now a playwright, poet, and artist.  She is hosting an online, public virtual reading of her new script "Why Black Women Whisper" on December 4th.  Get your tickets here for this event!


Catch this live show in support of the Dartmouth General Hospital that features two Talent Trust alumni!  Andrew was a scholarship recipient in 2014 and 2015, and took home the Chico Berardi Award both years. Reeny was a Talent Trust scholarship recipient in 2010 and 2012, and won the Portia White Award in 2010. 

REENY SMITH: Reeny Does Christmas

More from Reeny!!  Tickets to see her live show would be a fantastic gift for anyone!  Check out her live shows this December here.  



One of the best parts of the holidays is spending time with family and friends.  Snuggle up with your favorite cup of cocoa (in a Black Crow Pottery mug?) and enjoy the newly released film, Scouter Joe by Spencer MacKay.  Spencer was a Talent Trust scholarship recipient and winner of the Shelagh MacKenzie award in 2021. Download or stream the film here.


Visit the Talent Trust Redbubble store to purchase our hoodies, t-shirts, and journals!  A perfect gift for the Talent Trust alumni or art lovers in your life!  A portion of each sale goes directly toward our scholarship program to support amazing artists like the ones featured above!  


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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Spencer MacKay's "Scouter Joe" now available for download!

Click here to watch Scouter Joe!

Filmmaker Spencer MacKay received a Talent Trust scholarship in 2021 and went on to win the Shelagh MacKenzie award.  Based on a true(ish) story, his comedy film "Scouter Joe" is so much more than that - a labour of love, rooted in friendship, which served as a therapeutic outlet during a difficult time.  The story behind the film is almost as good as the film itself - here's a behind-the-scenes perspective from Spencer:

"About 15 or 16 years ago, my friend Shawn created this weird random character who had the impeccable ability to cut the bottom of a water bottle off with a hatchet. This character was created for these nonsensical stories that he would type on my laptop to make me laugh in class and the funny thing is, what started as such a stupid absurd joke between two great friends in a classroom, has now become so much more. Not only has it been recognized by several film festivals with the truly phenomenal Chris Halef playing the character exactly as I always imagined him to be, but it's a film that fundamentally changed my life for the better in every way imaginable.

(Pictured above: Actor Lincoln MacNeil, Spencer, and Shawn)

2020 was a difficult time for everyone, this is a film that represents what the last four months of 2020 was like for me. When I was making the movie, it was right in the middle of me losing my grandfather and so this film became a very big part of me processing my grief with that loss.

This is a character that I've been wanting to bring to the screen ever since I was nine or ten years old, and it's been incredible to me to watch something that was, quite frankly, just a stupid random joke between two friends in a fourth grade classroom, grow into this film that was recognized by film festivals, that people are talking about and that people, at least from everything that I have heard, seem to be really enjoying. Watching Shawn’s reaction to the film was one of the most incredible moments of my entire life because in that moment, I watched a fully grown adult man, rediscover his childlike awe and wonder in real time as a he saw a character that he in many ways created, be brought to life on the screen. Click here for a behind-the-scenes exclusive interview with Shawn, who talks about the inspiration for the character, Scouter Joe.

This was also the first time that I ever received any funding to make a film. The Talent Trust was the first organization to support me in this way, and thanks to that support, I've been able to use this production as a launch pad to do more and be more ambitious with the projects I take on. Since recieveing the Talent Trust's support, I've been able to go on and recieve grants from AFCOOP, Arts Nova Scotia, Tangled Arts + Disability in Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts, etc. I couldn't be more grateful that this production has really changed the trajectory of where I'm able to go next in my career and in my life.

At the time, this was the largest scale production, I had ever produced and directed. It was a film with a new location for each of the three days we filmed, over a dozen cast members and extras (many of whom were children), a very ambitious scope that we were going for (as I'd often joke that the film should 'look way better than a film about a bottle cutting scout should have any right to be"), it was a very ambitious production and to everyone's credit, everybody really stepped up to the plate. 

Something that I'm still baffled by is the fact that Scouts Canada actually signed off on us using their branding in the film. That was a massive success for us right at the start of the production, and I cannot believe that a character that is as much of a buffoon as Scouter Joe is, was discussed by people at the top executive level of a nationally recognized and beloved organization. I give a lot of credit to Scouts Canada for being such good sports about the whole thing because they really did not have to be as kind and generous with us as they were.

One of the things that I'm the most proud of is the cast in the movie. Chris Halef in particular really was spot on with exactly what I was going for and to his credit we threw a lot at him to deal with. I mean, it's one thing when you see the movie with the music and the effects and everything put together, but it's another thing entirely when he's a grown man just sitting on the ground grunting as loudly as he could as he reaches for a plastic bottle mere feet away. That takes a lot of trust, comfort and talent to be able to do. This was also the first time that I worked with child actors and so I learned a lot about what that process was like and spent time working with Sky Talent during the casting process to find those kids.

Scouter Joe isn’t going to change your life... don't get me wrong, I think you’ll have a lot of fun, you’ll laugh a lot, it’ll move you emotionally, you’ll be able to watch it over and over again, I really do feel like this is a great movie and I’m really proud of it. But it’s not going to change your life… it did however, change mine, and everything that you see from me moving forward as both a person and a filmmaker, is because of this film. I hope that you will take the time to watch it for FREE and that you enjoy it as much I and everyone else enjoyed making it."

- Spencer MacKay 


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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Nova Sinfonia Concert Featuring Soloist Alex Yang

Founded in 1995, Nova Sinfonia provides an opportunity for professional and emerging musicians to rehearse and perform together.  The symphony orchestra performs classical, romantic, 20th-century and pop music concerts.   They recently welcomed Melissa Doiron as their first Artistic Director and performed their first concert under her lead.  This concert was held October 24 at St. Andrew's Church and featured the as its soloist none other than Talent Trust scholarship recipient, Alex Yang.  

The concert opened with Crown Imperial: Coronation March by William Walton and the church filled with the beautiful sounds of Nova Sinfonia.  Once that piece finished, Alex stepped out before the crowd with more confidence than most adults have, let alone teens.  He sat down to play and it was easy to become mesmerized by his incredible talent.  Without even sheet music in front of him, the music effortlessly flowed through his fingertips. Everyone was leaning to the side to catch a glimpse of his hands flying across the keys.  Alex beautifully performed Piano Concerto No.2 in G Minor, Op. 22 by Camille Saint-Saens with the orchestra.  It was moving and breathtaking, and every note from every instrument was in unison, thanks to the incredible conducting by Melissa Doiron.  Once the Concerto ended, the audience was not ready to let Alex go, and he played Etude Op.10 No.4 by Chopin (also known as Torrent) as an encore.  Needless to say, it was fantastic.

The concert concluded with the Atlantic Canadian Premiere of Louise Farrenc's Symphony No. 3.  This was every bit as wonderful as the rest of the concert.  To see the concert in its entirety, visit the link on our Facebook page here.  

Alex is a Grade 9 student at Halifax Grammar School and has studied under Professor Lynn Stodola since 2015.  As one of the youngest Talent Trust scholarship recipients, his list of achievements and accolades is already quite impressive.  He was the winner of the 2022 Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition and won the Gordon Murray Rising Star Award for 4 years at the Nova Scotia Kiwanis Music Festival.  He has also taken home the Halifax Ladies' Music Club Junior Award and George Fleming Memorial Senior String Award, as well as the Dr. Piano and Yamaha Rose Bowl and Kiwanis President's Cup.  He was also the recipient of the Grand Award in the 2022 Federation of Canadian Music Festivals.  At just 14 years old, it is exciting to imagine what his future holds!


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Wednesday, October 12, 2022

All the Talent Trust artists featured at Nocturne Halifax

This year's Nocturne: Art at Night event is going to be spectacular.  This Halifax art festival celebrates Nova Scotia's visual artists with installations at local art galleries, free-standing displays to experience, and arts programming that inspires anyone and everyone to experience art in a new way.  Running from October 13 to 15, several Talent Trust scholarship recipients will have works on display.  Here's where to find them:

Arjun Lal: Anchor Artist 

"Full Moon is a 3 day portal accessible throughout the Nocturne Art at Night Festival.

How do we move when we are stuck?

I have been searching for portals. The ephemeral moments where places and times intersect and create gateways into other spaces. Accessible points within the universe that generate movements and changes."

Location: Alderney Landing
2 Ochterloney St, Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4W1
Wheelchair accessible

Letitia Fraser: Anchor Artist

"It Takes Generations: my becoming an artist has been a journey that started long before I was born. The struggles and challenges faced by my African Nova Scotian ancestors have cleared a path that I could emerge at just the right time – in THIS time and space."

Viewing for the Ondaatje Courtyard: Oct 13th, 14th, 15th 7 pm-midnight

Viewing for Windsor Foundation Lecture Theatre (wheelchair accessible): Oct 13th, 5 pm-9 pm, Oct 15th, 6 pm-midnight

Ada Denil

"Aeolian City: this wind-activated work will be installed in various locations throughout the city. Constructed with visually subtle components, you may hear it before you see it… Aeolian vibrations (named for Aeolus, the Greek god of the winds) are the source of the sound: when they vibrate in the wind they produce mysterious harmonic overtones which float and dissipate into the general soundscape, at times consumed or overridden by the noise of the city."

Multiple locations. Find Ada’s map at Propeller on Gottingen St., MacPhee Centre, and Downtown Halifax Business Commission, 2015 Gottingen St., 50 Queen St. 1546 Barrington St.

Excel Garay 

"Meet Me at the Dinner Table: three audio-recorded voices are heard over a dinner table but any physical clues of who these individuals are remain absent.

The materiality of this sound installation reflects on the complicated detached memories of diasporic communities from their food systems due to effects of migration, ecological shifts in food production, or recipes lost in time. Each voice yearns for experiences they no longer have access to—and their desires speak volumes."

Location: Khyber Centre for the Arts
1880 Hollis St, Wheelchair accessible 

Jacinte Armstrong 

"Carry the Spark is an evening of live performance and art inspired by the legacies of the environmental movement in Mi’kma’ki /Nova Scotia, featuring the work of extraordinary local artists."

Location:St. Andrew's United Church
6036 Coburg Rd
Oct 13th, 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM

"Found in Translation: an interactive perfomance in which small objects are translated into poetry, movement and sound through (a series of ) playful transformations."  

Location: Alderney Landing Theatre
2 Ochterloney St
Wheelchair accessible
Oct 15th, 6:30pm - 11:30pm

Shauna MacLeod, Brandt Eisner

"I Am What I Am is a group show based on constructs of identity. In this travelling and ever-evolving group show participating artists have been asked to showcase work that asks us to probe ideas surrounding who we are, how we are perceived, and why does it all matter?"

Location: Chase Gallery at The NS Archives
6016 University Ave
Wheelchair accessible

To see the full line-up of Nocturne performances and installations, please visit their website


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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Mark your Calendars for SISTAHS IN DA BIZ 2022 with Anne-Marie Woods

Anne-Marie Woods, also known as Amani, received a Talent Trust scholarship in 1996 for acting and directing and has gone on to build a vibrant and successful career.  She is an award winning multi-disciplinary artist, arts educator, producer, poet, playwright, director, creative consultant, creativity coach, and founder of Imani Enterprises - a company dedicated to the advancement of youth arts and culture.  

Anne-Marie has been a dedicated supporter of Nova Scotia Talent Trust and emerging artists.  She hosted the Special Awards Ceremony in 2021 and is working with us to develop opportunities for emerging artists facing barriers to pursuing their artistic careers. Together with three other dynamic, vibrant artists, Anne-Marie is hosting a virtual workshop that will give up-and-coming artists an inside look at the inspiration, challenges and successes of these four "Sistahs in da biz".  Details below:


Sunday October 23rd from 3pm – 5:30pm (EST)

Get ready for the Virtual/Interactive Business In The Arts Experience that highlights Creatives of the African Diaspora who are Boss Ladies in their industry. 

Sistahs In Da Biz is part of the Imani Enterprises Let's Talk Series that invites Artists and Creatives making moves in the Industry to share the secrets to their success for only a fraction of their consulting, coaching or booking rates.
This year’s event will feature one Sistah from the United States making moves in the Theatre, Film and TV Industry in Toronto.  Another Sistah who left her full time job to create her own PR Marketing and Communications Agency, and one incredible 18 year old Sistah who is taking the world of comedy by storm. All hosted by Anne-Marie Woods, aka Amani, the Managing Director of Imani Enterprises. It will be facilitated by Marissa Trott, a youth creative who is a playwright and arts administrator. 
Get ready to learn from each of the panelists and take part in an abridged workshop that features their talents. Come prepared to ask questions, engage and network.

Join Host, Amani aka Anne-Marie Woods alongside Youth Cohost and Facilitator, Marissa Trott with guest panelists/presenters Alicia Richardson, Precious Iz and Natassia Morris for presentations, live performances, poignant advice and an abridged workshop.

Click here to register for this event.  Early Bird admission ends this Saturday!  AND Anne-Marie has 5 sponsored spaces for youth to attend for FREE!  Don't miss out!

You can learn more about Anne-Marie, aka Amani by visiting her website or following her Instagram accounts @amanisvibe and @enterpriseimani


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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

NSTT: Behind the Scenes

The Nova Scotia Talent Trust is a small-but-mighty organization that has supported over 1000 emerging artists to pursue their dreams in music, dance, literary arts, visual arts, theatre, and film.  Each year we receive hundreds of applications and award thousands of dollars in scholarships and special awards to the applicants who show the most potential in their respective disciplines.  But how does it all work?

Let’s start at the beginning:

How the Talent Trust began…

In 1944, members of the Halifax Ladies Club, along with voice teacher Dr. Ernesto Vinci, successfully advocated the city of Halifax and the province of Nova Scotia to provide financial support for vocalist Portia White to pursue studies in New York. Portia ascended to become one of the best singers of the 20th century. The province recognized the difference their support made in Portia White’s career and founded the Nova Scotia Talent Trust on May 2, 1944, to help other deserving and talented Nova Scotians succeed.

NSTT's first directors included provincial and municipal government representatives and its initial source of funds was a grant from the Province of Nova Scotia.  In 1994, the Talent Trust was restructured to include the Scholarship Selection Committee, an arm’s length group that would review the applications and disperse the scholarships. In 2002, the Board decided to appoint a Chair from the community.  Timothy C. Matthews was elected as the Board Chair, and now serves as Honourary Lifetime Director of Nova Scotia Talent Trust and Chair of the NSTT Foundation. The Talent Trust became fully independent and opened its own office in 2010.

Where does the scholarship and special award money come from?

The partnership between the Talent Trust and the government – specifically, Arts Nova Scotia – allows NSTT to direct nearly all financial resources to scholarships.  Arts NS covers NSTT’s administration expenses and contributes to the scholarship program.

Named Scholarships

The Arts Endowment Fund Scholarships are funded by the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council.  These five scholarships are $2,000 each.

The CN Community Fund Scholarship established this scholarship in 2021 with a grant of $25,000 that was invested in the NSTT Foundation.  This investment will fund the $1,000 annual named scholarship in perpetuity.

The Curtis Botham Scholarship is a one-time, $1,000 scholarship that was generously donated by visual artist and past Talent Trust recipient, Curtis Botham.

General Scholarships

In 2022, the Talent Trust awarded $59,000 in scholarships in addition to the named scholarships noted above.  This amount can vary year to year and is funded through several sources:

- Individual donations and community fundraisers: 39%

- Arts NS: 29%

- Foundations and corporate donations: 27% 

- NSTT Foundation: 5%

Special Awards

The 2011 Canada Games Young Artist of Excellence Awards were established in 2012 by the 2011 Canada Games Legacy Fund Committee.  This award of $10,000 was to be given to two recipients annually for 10 years.  2022 will be the final year for this award.  

Some of the special awards such as the RBC Emerging Artist / BIPOC Emerging Artist Award, Theatre NS Award, and Portia White Award are funded on an annual basis.  Other special awards, such as the Charlotte Wilson-Hammond/VANS Award, Kenneth Elloway Award, and Raymond Simpson Award are established with a donation and topped up annually by friends and family of the original donor.  The rest of the special awards such as the Shelagh MacKenzie Award and James Burchill Award are established with an investment to the NSTT Foundation.  The dividends of that investment funds the annual award in perpetuity. 


How are the scholarship and special award recipients chosen?

The Scholarship Selection Committee

The SSC is an arm’s length, volunteer group that is comprised of 12 professional artists from the disciplines of Music, Dance, Theatre, Film, Visual Arts, and Literary Arts.  Each member serves a 2-year term.

The SSC meets three times a year: twice to review scholarship applications, and once to determine the special awards recipients.

Once the applications have been submitted, the SSC members begin reviewing them independently using a scoring system.  Each member comes prepared to the meeting with a score and feedback for each applicant in their discipline. The applications are then reviewed again at the meeting and the SSC engages in collaborative discussion about each submission until a final score is agreed upon.

Dispersing the Funds

The Scholarship Selection Committee starts with the highest-scoring applicants and decides the amount of scholarship funding for each.  They do this by reviewing the applicant’s funding request and budget provided in the application.  Each year the funding requests far exceed the amount the Talent Trust has available, so the SSC members strive to allocate scholarship amounts that will make an impact in the artists’ studies.  The scholarship recipients are announced each September.

Special Award Selection

The Scholarship Selection Committee again reviews the applications of the scholarship recipients.  They are given a list of the available special awards and eligibility criteria for each.  The SSC then has a discussion to determine the recipient of each award, led by the SSC members representing the discipline for that particular award.  The recipients are announced at the Special Awards Ceremony each December.


What happens after someone wins a scholarship?

Emerging artists who have not completed their studies are welcome to apply again each year.  Once an artist completes their studies and/or becomes a professional artist, they become Talent Trust Alumni!  While they are no longer eligible to apply for a scholarship, the Talent Trust will continue to support and promote all past recipients.  Many past recipients stay involved with the Talent Trust by joining the Board, helping to fundraise, volunteering at live events, or being involved with special projects like our blog or Artist Spotlight.


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Thursday, September 22, 2022

The NS Talent Trust Continues to Invest in Aspiring Nova Scotian Artists

Meet the 2022 Talent Trust Scholarship Recipients 

Having completed the scholarship selection process for 2022, the NS Talent Trust has awarded scholarships to 45 emerging Nova Scotian artists from all over the province who are pursuing studies in Dance, Music, Theatre, Film, Literary Arts, and Visual Arts.
This year's Talent Trust recipients come from Glace Bay, Guysborough, Head of Chezzetcook, Wellington, Fall River, Windsor Junction, Wolfville, Shelburne, Hammonds Plains, Cape Breton, Lyons Brook, Gatineau, Mount Uniacke, Middle and Lower Sackville,
 as well as Bedford, Dartmouth and Halifax.  It is incredible to see aspiring artists hailing from so many Nova Scotian communities.  Many will begin their artistic journeys in schools and programs all around the world, from Winnipeg to Lunenburg to Switzerland. Whatever path they choose, this year's scholarship recipients represent the very best of Nova Scotia's talent.

Beginning with the very first scholarship recipient, Portia White, NSTT scholarship recipients consistently promote and enhance the Arts & Culture sector in Nova Scotia.  With the support of the NSTT, they have the opportunity to perfect their craft with some of the best mentors and programs the world has to offer.  Just as Portia White built a successful career and long-lasting legacy, many other Talent Trust recipients have gone on to do the same - artists like Sandra Brownlee, Breagh Isabel, Brettan Hannam, and Walter Borden.  With over $2.5 million in scholarships to more than 1000 artists since 1944, there are endless stories of incredible creativity, perseverance, and success among the Talent Trust alumni.

Our scholarship recipients are chosen through a thorough and collaborative process by the Scholarship Selection Committee.   This Committee functions independently and is comprised of twelve professional artists representing the six disciplines of Music, Dance, Film, Theatre, Literary Arts, and Visual Arts. The Committee members volunteer their time and expertise to review applications, provide the recipients with meaningful feedback, and name the scholarship recipients based on their skill, dedication and potential.  It is with sincere gratitude to the Scholarship Selection Committee members that we present this year's scholarship recipients.
This year's 63 successful scholarships were chosen from a field of 106 applications over two submission periods ending March 1st and May 1st 2022.

Five scholarships of $2000 each are supported by the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council Nova Scotia Arts Endowment Fund.  This year's recipients are Kaya Panthier, Emily O'Leary, Caroline McKeen, Aidan Vaudreuil, and Hope Salmonson. 

The CN Halifax Community Fund Scholarship
 was established in 2021 by the CN Halifax Community Board.  This $1,000 scholarship goes to Jeremy Hull.

The Curtis Botham Scholarship of $1000 was generously provided by Curtis Botham, past Talent Trust scholarship recipient and winner of the Canada Games Award (2018) and Charlotte Wilson-Hammond/VANS Award (2017).  The recipient of this scholarship is Ada Denil.

Together with our generous donors, sponsors, and supporters, the Talent Trust was able to award $71,000 in scholarships in 2022.  Our sincere thanks go to Arts Nova Scotia, the RBC Foundation, the CN Halifax Community Board, the Craig FoundationCurtis Botham, and our community who have made it possible to provide support to these gifted artists when they need it the most.  

Below is the complete list of the 2022 Nova Scotia Talent Trust scholarship recipients.

 Media Contact: 
 Andrea Urquhart, Executive Director 
 Nova Scotia Talent Trust 
 (902) 492 6801 
About the NSTT
Since 1944, the NS Talent Trust has provided more than $2.5 million in scholarships and special awards to over 1,000 Nova Scotians pursuing careers in the disciplines of Music, Dance, Film, Theatre, Literary Arts, and Visual Arts.  It is the only organization of its kind in the country.

Nova Scotia Talent Trust Scholarship Recipients 2022


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