Nfld. & Labrador

Fostering arts with health and well-being: Cultural Ambassador Program enters third year

The Soundbone Traditional Arts Foundation has developed the Cultural Ambassador Program for performers between the ages of 18 and 30, to help hone their performance skills while granting an opportunity for people all over the province to enjoy local music.

Soundbone Traditional Arts Foundation kicking off week-long program at Terra Nova National Park

Claudia Karrasch and Eric West are the people behind the Soundbone Cultural Ambassador Program. In this photo they're rehearsing with students of Sandstone Elementary in Ladle Cove. (Submitted)

The Soundbone Traditional Arts Foundation is about to kick off its annual Cultural Ambassador Program for the third time.

The program begins with a week of mentorship that involves coaching young performers, and then puts them in touch with sponsoring organizations around the province. This year, mentorship week begins on June 3 at Terra Nova National Park. 

Program coordinator Eric West says it's all about fostering the arts with health and well-being. 

"We'll help [the performers] develop their confidence and their repertoire," West said. "We've got performers coming from all over the province this year."

The cultural ambassador's performance venues could include a public library, a community festival or a nursing home.

I really like the idea of community spirit improved through music.- Claudia Karrasch

The idea came from Claudia Karrasch, whose goal is to ensure that all members of the community get the same opportunities to enjoy local music. 

"I really like the idea of community spirit improved through music," Karrasch said. 

"People who are less mobile don't [always] have the opportunity to listen to music." 

Madison Mouland is a university student, originally from Musgrave Harbour. She's also a singer and guitarist, and will return again to the program again this season for the third time. (Submitted)

'It was beautiful'

Madison Mouland is a singer and guitarist, and she's been a cultural ambassador with Soundbone since the program began in 2017. 

One of Mouland's most memorable performances was at a nursing home on Fogo Island last summer. 

"Most people [in the audience] had memory deterioration illnesses like Alzheimer's [disease]," she said. 

"The song Joe Batt's Arm Longliners is about a place on Fogo Island. I often sing that song, so I sang it and one of the women there who was fairly unresponsive throughout the performance started to cry when I performed that song."

Mouland said it was a beautiful moment that had everyone, including the nursing home staff, in tears.

The Cultural Ambassador Program's main source of funding comes from the federal government's Canada Summer Jobs program. 

It's not music therapy, but it can have a therapeutic value.- Eric West

West is encouraging organizations throughout the province to apply for Canada Summer Jobs and hire young performers for the summer to give seniors, people with disabilities, or anyone who may not otherwise get the opportunity to enjoy local music.

"Music can often help them to relax and feel part of their community," West said. "It's not music therapy, but it can have a therapeutic value."

Anyone interested in booking a cultural ambassador to perform over the summer can visit the Soundbone Traditional Art Foundation's website

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Weekend AM