Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues’ Executive Director leaving post

October 15, 2010

Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues (WJB) is undergoing some changes at the top. Our beloved founder and Executive/Artistic Director, Kirk Newhook is leaving his post with the organization. Kirk has always been an important advocate for arts and culture in St. John’s and at the centre of diversifying the music scene in our vibrant city for almost a decade. He took his dream of expanding the musical heritage of St. John’s and created an organization and festival that has become a cornerstone event in the city’s cultural offerings. He has lead WJB through its formative years, and leaves a healthy and robust organization ready to move into the next phase of development. We owe Kirk a tremendous debt of appreciation and gratitude.

Kirk leaves WJB to take on a new role as a Sun Life Financial Advisor. Of his experience with Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues, Kirk said: “I am very proud of the contribution that the Festival has made to the local, national and international music scene.  It’s taken a tremendous amount of hard work, but I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by hundreds of great people; performers, volunteers, staff, directors, sponsors, government funders, industry colleagues and family who have shared in the vision and helped to build and sustain the momentum that’s now unstoppable. I am comfortable with my decision to step down from the ED role because of the stability that the organization has achieved, and feel very confident that the Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival will continue on well into the future.”

Although this will bring about great change in the organization be assured that, “We’re not going anywhere”, says Jim Price, president of the WJB Board of Directors. “Kirk has planted a seed that has allowed the festival to grow over the last 9 years. The organization is determined to see our vision realized and continues to contribute to the artistic community of St. John’s for many years to come”

Taking over as Executive Director is Liz Dunbar, the former Marketing & Operations Manager. “I am honoured and excited to take on this new role with WJB. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue working with this enthusiastic community and hope to foster the amazing growth the jazz, blues and world music community has seen over the past decade in Newfoundland. I look forward to many more years of outstanding music and community spirit.”

Kirk Newhook will become the festival’s volunteer Artistic Director. “Kirk will continue to bring a strong artistic focus and continuity to our festival’s programming, while Liz will continue to achieve WJB’s long-term goals,” says Jim.

Among the challenges Liz hopes to tackle as Executive Director of WJB is expanding the art form’s audience. “We must connect with younger audiences and make jazz less intimidating”. She will work closely with Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Board of Directors, staff and volunteers, as well as Kirk to ensure that the Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival continues to be a landmark event in Newfoundland’s cultural landscape.

The organization has already started planning for the WIJBF’s 10th anniversary in 2011 and hopes to confirm some of its headliners before the New Year.


For more information please contact:

Liz Dunbar at 709-739-7734


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