Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Support our Blue Nose Marathon TEAM TALENT TRUST

Team Talent Trust Blue Nose Marathon

Are you a runner or a walker and want to join in our virtual Blue Nose Marathon efforts in support of our Scholarship Fund?

If yes, then please sign up for the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon and join Team Talent Trust at

Virtual means that you can run in your own neighbourhood to keep physical distancing. You choose your route. 

Or if you want to support one of our runners including former scholarship recipients Breagh MacKinnon, Carolle Fernando, Erin Sparks, and current recipient Alex Yang then follow the link below. 

Just scroll down to see all of our runners -> click on their image and support their efforts.
You will receive a donation receipt starting at $5. 

We thank our Vice-Chair Victoria Hines for being the Team Talent Trust leader, board member Natalie Wells, Talent Trust friend Jon Hines, and Jacqueline Steudler for running as well. 

Please feel free to share this information with your friends. (smile)

PS: Want to hear more about the Talent Trust? Please sign up for our newsletter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Jane Archibald & Jennifer King Special Presentation

Celebrated coloratura soprano Jane Archibald and award-winning pianist Jennifer King, both past Talent Trust recipients, are performing Saturday, October 24th (at 7pm and 9pm) as part of the Cecilia Concerts series.

While the performance is currently at capacity, you can join the waitlist here.

About Jane Archibald (from her website)

After beginning her professional opera career in her native Canada, Jane was an Adler Fellow and Merola participant with the San Francisco Opera. She then moved to the Vienna State Opera as a member of the ensemble, debuting many coloratura roles.

Her 2019-2020 season includes performances of Mathilde (William Tell) at the Opera de Lyon, the title role in Semele for the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra with Long Yu, recitals in Toronto and environs, Messiah with the Toronto Symphony, concerts in Chicago (Handel/Mozart), Dresden (Lehar) and Madrid (Vaughn Williams), and Ginevra (Ariodante) in Valencia and Donna Anna in Zurich.

About Jennifer King (from her website)

Jennifer King is a versatile Nova Scotian pianist and teacher who loves performing, working with students of all ages and collaboration on the concert stage. Her first solo album O Mistress Moon gained two nominations for Best Classical Album of the Year 2019 with East Coast Music Association and Music Nova Scotia. With a busy career spanning thirty years, she has established herself as a sought-after performer and solo recording artist in the region.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A reading and reflections from Amanda S. Peters

Warm thanks to Talent Trust recipient and writer Amanda S. Peters, for sharing reflections on her art and a very moving excerpt from her work, Ashes!

Amanda is a mixed-race woman of Mi’kmaq and western European ancestry, born and raised in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. She has worked for her home community of Glooscap First Nation since 2013. In 2016, while working full time, she completed the Certificate in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto with mentors Christy-Ann Conlin and Alissa York. That same year, Amanda was a finalist for the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia Short Fiction Award. In 2017, she won the short fiction award for her story Crows. Also, in 2017 the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia awarded Amanda the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship, where she worked on her first novel with writer and mentor Stephanie Domet.  Amanda was a finalist in 2018 for the Indigenous Voices Award for her short story, “Pejipug.” Her short fiction has been published in The Antigonish Review, Grain Magazine and The Alaska Quarterly Review. Amanda is currently enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indians Arts (IAIA) in New Mexico.

Reading description:
I wrote this (Ashes) as a response to a story a friend told me about her home community on the West Coast. I tried to think about what it must have been like for her people. When I asked her to read it and grant me permission to publish, she cried and I think I knew then that I could tell stories. I also cried. 

What are your earliest memories of your art?
I used to make little books for my grandfather about little furry monsters that went on adventures and my grandmother would bind them with her yarn. 

Who were/are your biggest supporters?
My family and friends have been very supportive. A few fellow writers who have seen something in my writing when I couldn’t, particularly my good friend and mentor, Christy-Ann Conlin.

What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
Getting to pursue my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in New Mexico. I’m excited to work with and learn the craft from some brilliant Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers. 

What has been your greatest challenge in relation to your art? Why?
Time. I still have to work to pay the bills when all I want to do is write stories and read stories. Luckily, my work, Glooscap First Nation, is incredibly supportive of me and willing to work with me to pursue my writing. 

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 year, in relation to your art?
I would like to be writing full time. Even if its small jobs to pay the bills and working on my fiction the rest of the time. I want to write, write, write. I have so many ideas stuck in my head and waiting to be put to paper. 

Are there any unexpected positives that have come out of pandemic related to your art?
I had extra time to write when I took a workday reduction to two days a week. I liked it and my work allowed me to permanently stay at two days to work on my MFA. I consider it a privilege to have the time and use it to the fullest.

How have you managed practicing your art during the pandemic?
I have. I completed a rewrite of a manuscript and worked on my MFA creative work.

What quote best describes your commitment to your art? 
“I’m not a native writer … I don’t want to be compared, I don’t want to be ghettoized, I don’t want to be marginalized.… I just want [people] to read my work and go, ‘Wow.’”– Richard Wagamese

What 3 words next describe your commitment to your art? 
Read, Write and Enjoy

What has been your biggest challenge in pursuing your art?
Time. I have worked while writing and sometimes work hours didn’t allow for writing hours but I managed.  

Who are your mentors and how have they influenced your art/career?
My Dad. He is a great storyteller, even if he tells the same stories over and over again. He inspired me to write the story I’m currently working on. Also, Christy-Ann Conlin. She started as an instructor when I was doing my Certificate in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto and we have since become very good friends. She has been incredibly supportive and I have learned so much from her. 

What aspect of your art/practices 'fills your cup' the most?
Mostly, just when I get it write. Or, when the ending of a story comes to me after years of thinking about it. There is a remarkable satisfaction when I’ve said what I wanted to say and said it as beautifully as I could. 

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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Nova Scotia Talent Trust Announces Sheila K. Piercey (Legacy) Award

Last year the arts community lost Sheila K. Piercey, an accomplished soprano, teacher, mentor, beloved aunt, and loyal friend to many. 

Piercey’s passion for singing, and commitment to aspiring artists, was evident during every stage of her life, from her time with the Canadian Opera Company to her instructor years at Dalhousie University and the years after as a supporter of the arts in Nova Scotia and Canada.

Sheila Piercey was so kind to leave a bequest in the amount of $20,000 to the Talent Trust. In consultation with Sheila’s family we decided to honour her legacy by creating a new special award for a voice student. 
The Sheila K. Piercey (Legacy) Award will be administered by the Nova Scotia Talent Trust and awarded for the first time at the annual Special Awards Ceremony in December 2020. The award winner will be chosen from among the pool of gifted voice recipients who have already received a Talent Trust scholarship for the current application year. 

“We are honoured to be able to continue Sheila Piercey’s legacy through this generous award towards voice studies. We thank Sheila Piercey for thinking of the Talent Trust and her family for their support and help in establishing the special award”, states Jacqueline Steudler, Executive Director NSTT.

The Sheila K. Piercey (Legacy) Award will be given to a Talent Trust scholarship music recipient who shows exceptional commitment and potential in the field of voice. The award is $2,000. Further donations towards the award can be made through the Talent Trust at

About Sheila K. Piercey (From her obituary:

Sheila grew up in a lovely home built by her father on Dutch Village Road. She was an active, spirited, and vivacious child. She admitted on numerous occasions that she gave her parents a headache or two! These qualities and strength of will served her well for her entire life both on and off the stage.

She began singing at a very young age under the tutelage of her mother, but had varied interests and activities on her journey to Canadian opera icon. In her formative years, Sheila attended Halifax Ladies College, and toured with a ballet company and skating show. She attended Dalhousie University from 1951-1954 where she played on many sports teams, was a cheerleader and performed in multiple productions with the Dalhousie Glee and Dramatic Society and King’s College Dramatic and Choral Society.

This is when Sheila decided that her true calling was on the stage. After much success as a vocalist in Halifax studying with Leonard Mayoh, Sheila moved to Toronto in 1956 when she was offered a scholarship to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto opera program.

With Ernesto Vinci as her mentor she blossomed into a professional soprano on the National stage joining the Canadian Opera Company in 1958. This relationship spanned 22 mainstage roles and 16 COC tours over 13 years. Sheila was considered a member of a group of COC pioneers whose touring made opera more accessible to audiences. Sheila often told entertaining stories of touring to such places as Alaska and the NWT and of life on a tour bus. Her interest in photography made her the unofficial photographer and historian of all her COC tours. In addition to performances with the COC Sheila sang regularly on the CBC and at the Banff Centre, Stratford Festival, Rainbow Stage and Charlottetown Festival Sheila retired from the COC and moved home to Nova Scotia in 1971. From 1977 to 1982, she taught voice at Dalhousie University and this is when her transition from singer to philanthropist began. A passion for helping young singers unlock their artistic potential was ignited and she became an avid supporter of the Performing Arts in Nova Scotia and Canada for the rest of her life.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Evenings @ Government House with Ellen Gibling & India Gailey

Former Talent Trust Scholarship recipients, cellist India Gailey and harpist Ellen Gibling, are performing at Evenings @ Government House on 
Tuesday, October 6 from 7 - 8:30pm.

Note: It is important to read registration information and health and safety regulations as they pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find this information and more about the performance here.

There will also be a Facebook live stream at 

India Gailey is a cellist, composer, and improviser. She draws from many eras and genres, often working with living composers, the standard/obscure contrast, and musicians outside of the Western classical tradition. She recently earned her Master of Music degree under the tutelage of Matt Haimovitz at McGill’s Schulich School of Music. Other recent doings include performing across Canada, The United States, and Germany; working with Philip Glass at Scotia Festival; holding a fellowship at Garth Newel Music Center in Virginia, and releasing her first solo album, Lucid. She is a member of the acclaimed environmental ensemble New Hermitage, whose fifth recording, Unearth, will be released this fall. India is the recipient of several awards, including five Nova Scotia Talent Trust Scholarships and the Yuh Lih and Marion Kuo Award for Instrumental Excellence (2017). (

Ellen Gibling is a harpist based in K'jipuktuk/Halifax, Nova Scotia. With the support of the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, she studied classical harp performance at McGill University, going on to train with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and the World Youth Orchestra of Jeunesses Musicales. Recently, she spent a year abroad pursuing a masters degree in Irish Traditional Music Performance at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Ellen has enjoyed an active performing and teaching career on Canada's east coast over the past decade, working with local organizations and artists, including Mocean Dance, Symphony Nova Scotia, Jenn Grant, the Halifax Camerata Singers, and the Halifax Summer Opera Festival. She is a member of the traditional music ensembles Ragged Robin, Harpaflöjt, and Síle, as well as the improvisation quartet New Hermitage. Ellen teaches at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, and has also taught at Acadia University, the University of Limerick, and the Canadian International Summer Harp Institute. (

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Want to support the next generation of Nova Scotian artists? Donate today!  (smile)

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Celebrate Talent Trust's 2020 Scholarship Recipients

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

Having finished its adjudication process, the NS Talent Trust has awarded scholarships to 67 emerging Nova Scotian artists in dance, music, theatre, film/new media, circus arts, literary arts, and visual arts coming from all over the province. 


This year's Talent Trust recipients come from Prospect Bay, Bible Hill, Windsor Junction, Lower Sackville, Hammonds Plains, Valley, Falmouth, Truro, Montague Gold Mines, Wolfville, New Glasgow, Millville, Sydney, Beaver Bank, Canning, Fall River, as well as Bedford, Dartmouth and Halifax. These aspiring artists have proven their commitment to their art by adapting through the uncertain times of a global pandemic by adjusting and changing their programs and studying virtually. Recipients attended virtual programs all over the world, from the United States to the UK to Switzerland.


Through their residencies, mentorships, and schooling, NSTT scholarship recipients inevitably promote Nova Scotia's cultural relevance by studying in some of the best institutions worldwide. Like Portia White herself, the original catalyst for the organization's formation, recipients sometimes become world-renowned. Think Jane Archibald, Bretten Hannam, and George Elliot Clarke. Since Portia's impetus in 1944, the Talent Trust has distributed over two million dollars in scholarships to over 1,000 recipients. 


The independent, volunteer Scholarship Selection Committees, made up of twelve professional artists, two from each discipline, obviously recognize the artistic skill and look for lasting commitment signs. The artist's life has more than its fair share of challenges, and for the NSTT, dedication to professional achievement is as essential as artistic potential. Since the province is overflowing with talent, the decisions are never easy. 


This year's 67 successful scholarship recipients were chosen from a field of 134 applications over two submission periods, 1 March and 1 May 2020. Five of the 88 scholarships are supported by the NS Arts Endowment Fund of $2,000 each.

They are India Gailey for Music, Jonah McKay for Interdisciplinary, Sara Leslie for Literary Arts, Gabrielle Kachan for Dance, and Jillian Peters for Theatre. 

The Nova Scotia Talent Trust's scholarships totalled $80,000 in 2020, which is only possible through various generous grants and individual donations. We thank our individual donors, the Craig Foundation, the RBC Foundation, and Arts Nova Scotia for their support during this special time. 

More than ever, we realized over the last couple of months how much the arts and the individual artists help us to stay mentally healthy. Nova Scotia artists supported us in the darkest days with their talent and generosity. 

Let's celebrate the 2020 Nova Scotia Talent Trust scholarship recipients, which signify our cultural future! 


List of the 2020 Talent Trust Scholarship and Nova Scotia Arts Endowment Fund Scholarship Recipients


  • Lily McGrath, Dartmouth


  • Julia Barkhouse, Dartmouth 
  • Brooklyn Law, Bedford
  • Shannon Mullally, Dartmouth
  • Maggie Oates-Johnson, Dartmouth
  • Mollie Oates-Johnson, Dartmouth
  • Scarlett Reynolds, Prospect Bay
  • Eden Robichaud, Bible Hill
  • Stan Tonin, Windsor Junction
  • Aidan Vaudreuil Wakeham, Lower Sackville
  • Sahara Nyathi, Halifax


  • Nathan King-Pacis, Hammonds Plains


  • Claire Campbell, St. Margart's Bay 
  • Minuet Charron, Halifax
  • Gabrielle Kachan, Halifax, NS Arts Endowment Fund Scholarship
  • Camryn Rieksts, Valley


  • Lucy Boyne, Halifax

Creative Nonfiction

  • Sara Leslie, Dartmouth, NS Arts Endowment Fund Scholarship 

Creative Writing/Fiction

  • Vicki Donkin, Halifax 


  • K.R. Byggdin, Halifax
  • Amanda Peters, Falmouth 

Short Fiction/Prose

  • Sidney Robichaud, Halifax

Brass - French Horn

  • Mimisu Lee, Halifax

Brass - Trombone

  • Ross Macintosh, Truro


  • Taylor MacGillivray, Halifax

Gaelic Culture/Fiddle

  • Abby Hanson, Montague Gold Mines
  • Ella Hanson, Montague Gold Mines 

Keyboard - Piano

  • Jenny Chen, Halifax
  • Sherry Chen, Hammonds Plains
  • Devin Huang, Bedford
  • Lala Lee, Halifax
  • Carmen Peng, Wolfville
  • Andrew Son, Halifax
  • Alex Yang, Bedford

Music Technology

  • Cassie Mann, New Glasgow


  • Lucas Goudie, Halifax 

Strings - Cello

  • India Gailey, Halifax, NS Arts Endowment Fund Scholarship
  • Priscilla Lee, Bedford

Strings - Violia

  • Leo Hanada, Halifax
  • Rose Hanada, Halifax


  • Dane Pedersen, Millville 

Voice - Opera

  • Nicholas Higgs, New Glasgow
  • Laura Johnston, Prospect Bay
  • Natalie Mitchell, Halifax
  • Nicole Ross, New Glasgow
  • Abigail Sinclair, Halifax
  • Shanice Skinner, New Glasgow
  • Anisa Sobhani, Dartmouth

Woodwind - Flute

  • Amelia Bruce, Dartmouth


  • Kevin Munroe, Sydney
  • Rebecca Wolfe, Dartmouth 

Musical Theatre

  • Emma Davidson, Halifax
  • Zachary Ellis, Truro
  • Olivia Grund, Truro
  • Madelaine Hanley, Dartmouth
  • Saffron Hyde, Bedford
  • Ryan MacDougall, Hammonds Plains
  • Brooke Mitchell, Beaverbank
  • Jillian Peters, Dartmouth, NS Arts Endowment Fund Scholarship
  • Katherine Shore, Halifax

Applied Craft/Architecture

  • Charles Bourne, Halifax 

Interdisciplinary/Computation Arts

  • Jonah McKay, Canning, NS Arts Endowment Fund Scholarship 


  • Madeleine West, Halifax


  • Fraya McDougall, Fall River 

Painting/Drawing (Digital Graphite)

  • Willa Fisher, Halifax

Textiles Art

  • Pamela Juarez, Halifax


  • Ada Denil, Halifax

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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A reading and reflections from K.R. Byggdin


Thank you to Talent Trust scholarship recipient and writer K.R. Byggdin, for sharing their touching work with us! And for also sharing their reflections on their art.

K.R. Byggdin grew up on the Prairies and now calls K’jipuktuk (Halifax) home. Their writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Grain, The Antigonish Review, The Quilliad, The Trinity Review, and several anthologies. They are currently studying Creative Writing and English Literature at Dalhousie University.
Reading Description:
This reading is excerpted from a short story called “Home,” which won the Sheldon Currie Fiction Prize and was published in issue 195 of The Antigonish Review. 
My partner and I moved to Nova Scotia in 2015, and I was struck by the subtle differences between visiting as a tourist and coming here to live. 

One day as we were driving from Halifax to Yarmouth to visit family, the line about black versus pink milk cartons popped into my head and I just started to jot down ideas on my phone. It ended up becoming my first published piece, and I still resonate with the tensions and themes of this narrative today.

What are your earliest memories of your art?

I’ve been interested in storytelling from a very young age. My earliest efforts at writing involved a lot of “fanfic,” retellings of Franklin the Turtle or Star Wars. This kind of copycat writing could only take me so far, though. After one particularly bossy backyard production of The Little Mermaid in which I served as playwright, director, and performed several of the (best) parts, my cousins declared they never wanted to play dress up with me again! 

It wasn’t until after high school when I read A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews that it hit me: I didn’t have to imitate anyone else. The stories I wrote could be rooted in my personal geography and experience. That was a real game changer for me.

How have you managed practicing your art during the pandemic?

First and foremost, any kind of structure or schedule had to go out the window. At the start of the pandemic I was often beating myself up for not writing every day because I had all this “free time.” But of course, that was nonsense. Battling constant anxiety and uncertainty uses up a lot of energy. 

It’s so important to be kind to yourself and give yourself room to grieve these changes and zone out for a bit when needed. Interestingly, it was only once I let the idea of a consistent writing schedule go that I felt free to be creative again. I’m only writing when I feel up to it right now and I have produced a couple of stories I’m really proud of. But I’m also trying to go gently, to listen to myself when I’ve had enough and just veg out with a couple episodes of The Great Canadian Baking Show.

Who are your mentors and how have they influenced your art and/or career?

I’m currently working on a novel, and last year I was incredibly fortunate to participate in both the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia’s Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program with Jacqueline Dumas and the Banff Centre’s Emerging Writers Intensive with Joshua Whitehead. 

Jacqui pushed me deeper into my story and helped me to fully enter the headspace of my characters and the world they were inhabiting. She didn’t hold back on her critiques or her encouragements, and I left the WFNS program with a novel that was lightyears beyond the first draft I developed on my own.

With Josh I was able to flesh out my protagonist more, focussing on embodying his emotions with physical actions and crafting dialogue to pull readers into a moment. Our time together was brief, but I learned so much from him and my fellow cohort of emerging writers that will stick with me always. I am so grateful and humbled by the mentorship and care Jacqui and Josh showed me and my work.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years, in relation to your art?

Well I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’d love to get a book-length project published at some point! But I also want to continually grow as a writer and creative person, wherever those opportunities arise. 
There are so many writers in Canada producing absolutely astounding work right now—Catherine Hernandez, Casey Plett, Zalika Reid-Benta, Katherena Vermette, truly the list goes on—and I feel I learn so much about the craft of storytelling by reading and sitting with their work. 

Every time I submit to a literary magazine it’s a learning experience, whether my work is accepted or, much more frequently, rejected. I’ve attended some really great workshops with WFNS that helped me get a sense of all the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into being a writer outside of the writing itself. 

I’m also grateful for the support of the Nova Scotia Talent Trust as I go back to school to study creative writing. Overall, in the next five years and beyond, I want to deepen my understanding of how to write authentically and courageously. 

As a queer and non-binary writer, I also want to put more stories out into the world that will resonate with and better represent people like me.

Social Media:
@krbyggdin (Instagram)

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