AJAs 2016 Finalists


Date Aired or Published Dec. 3, 2016
Media outlet where first aired or published: Telegraph-Journal
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Saint John
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

When something arises from the realm of popular culture that hearkens to a day long past, bringing with it a local connection to a faraway world, the excitement is palpable. How does a gallery in Fredericton, New Brunswick, have anything to do with an episode of The Crown, the opulent Netflix drama detailing the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II? The series brings to life the story of a gift commissioned for the 80th birthday of Sir Winston Churchill: a portrait by artist Graham Sutherland of the British prime minister. It details Churchill’s disgust with the artwork, which shows not the strong leader of years past, but captured the frailty of the fading wartime hero. At the Telegraph-Journal, we wanted to tell New Brunswickers about some of the important artworks found right here at home that have historical significance. We were aware that the sketches of Churchill, detailed works by Sutherland as he prepared the final portrait, are part of the Beaverbrook’s permanent collection, and here was a perfect, timely platform to showcase this information. The Crown’s launch on the streaming service, reaching millions of viewers around the world, offered up a wonderful opportunity for our publication to delve into the permanent collection of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and show readers what treasures it holds. Our weekend feature, weaving the familiar scenes from The Crown with the details of the gallery’s permanent collection, struck a chord with readers, and made them feel as though they were a part of something bigger, that New Brunswick had a secret now shared with the rest of the country and beyond. After our story was published, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery prominently hung the studies of Churchill in the Orientation Gallery for one month, inviting residents and visitors to see for themselves New Brunswick’s connection to this piece of British history. It was also picked up in a national newspaper and on CBC. “An art gallery’s permanent collection is much more than an accumulation of objects that are stored in a vault and occasionally exhibited, studied, published and lent to other galleries,” writes Telegraph-Journal columnist and art gallery curator Tom Smart. “It is certainly a very valuable asset that needs to be protected for future generations to view and appreciate. Future eyes might even react to items in a collection in ways that are very different from the way they are seen today.” We believe this story really piqued the interest of New Brunswickers who might not have otherwise given the Beaverbrook Art Gallery a second thought. It offered up a local connection to a tangible and wildly popular Netflix series, and it opened up the question: if these important sketches are here, what other treasures do our galleries hold?

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Freelance writer Emily Baron Cadloff worked on this piece for a few weeks. She watched The Crown, talked to the gallery about the works, as well as fans of the show with roots to New Brunswick to get a fresh look at how they viewed this new-found connection to the Netflix show. She also reached out to Netflix itself, to see if she could speak to a director or to the Churchill actor himself, John Lithgow. A few days after finishing her final draft, she got an email response from Lithgow! He spoke of how he found playing the role of Churchill, a man who was not prepared to see himself as the old man in the portrait.

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