Increased Incidences of Inappropriate Behaviour

Jan 26, 2024

From the Executive Director and Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council

January 26, 2024

Dear arts community,

The ArtsNL team works tirelessly to support the arts community of Newfoundland and Labrador. The role of our program officers is to respond to questions, advise on application content, and provide feedback from peer assessment panels to applicants. The increase in applications to the Professional Project Grants Program (PPGP) has been steadily increasing since the fall of 2021, yet nothing could have prepared us for the response to the fall 2023 PPGP funding cycle. This is not only a testament to the burgeoning creativity of the arts community, but also a response to the immense need to fund the development of art across the province.

We are pleased to partner with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on the 2024 Year of the Arts initiative which has allowed ArtsNL to provide additional investment to the arts community. Staff, with tremendous support from Council, have listened to the community and have worked to design programming that responds to those needs. We also understand just how difficult the last number of years has been on the community and how these increased funding opportunities can positively impact the arts sector.

Unfortunately, this funding increase has also brought a change in behaviour, and the ArtsNL team has been subjected to a significant increase in inappropriate behaviour. We understand there is great enthusiasm for Year of the Arts and more interest in ArtsNL’s programs than ever before. We also understand that deep disappointment and frustration can be felt by artists when their peer-assessed applications are not successful.

At ArtsNL, our core values are rooted in kindness and compassion. We believe in a respectful and healthy workplace for our staff, Council members, and the community we serve. To that end, we will continue to serve the community with kindness and compassion, which is at the forefront of who we are, but we remind our community that rude and aggressive telephone calls or emails, slander, and threatening tones or words are not acceptable. For the protection of our staff and to ensure we continue to thrive in a healthy workplace and effectively deliver public arts programming, ArtsNL has established a policy guiding inappropriate behaviour. It is outlined below and is available on the ArtsNL website at

Melanie Martin | Executive Director
David Brown | Chair

A Policy Guiding Inappropriate Behaviour

The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (ArtsNL) does not tolerate any form of verbal abuse, harassment or intimidation of its staff or anyone working with ArtsNL in a professional capacity. This includes the following:

  • Raising one’s voice.
  • Using language or a tone that is aggressive, unpleasant, belittling, and/or vulgar.
  • Making direct or indirect threats.
  • Defaming, slandering, or making libellous claims about staff and Council members.
  • Communicating too frequently and/or at inappropriate times.
  • Refusing to accept the responses provided.

Abusive, aggressive, threatening, or vexatious complaints and correspondence are a minority, but Council’s employees sometimes find themselves in a position where they need to end communication with an individual.

Inappropriate behaviour could compromise the relationship of the individual with ArtsNL and the chances of obtaining its support in the future. Any inappropriate communication targeting ArtsNL’s official social media accounts will be dealt with in accordance with ArtsNL’s Netiquette Policy. Feedback expressed via social media will be dealt with on social media, in public or in private, and may be referred to ArtsNL’s executive team in accordance with ArtsNL’s Harassment Policy.

Pervasive, persistent, and/or repeated expressions of derogatory and/or offensive commentary or feedback may lead to a ban on interacting with ArtsNL staff or Council members.

Continued escalation of inappropriate behaviour may lead to other consequences.

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