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About the Festival


HOLD FAST acknowledges the First Peoples of the lands where our work is situated. This island of Ktaqmkuk is home to the Mi’kmaq, and is the ancestral homeland of the Beothuk, whose culture has been lost to genocide. We also respectfully acknowledge the Innu of Nitassinan, and the Inuit of Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut, as well as the diverse Indigenous communities from across Turtle Island who have made a home here.

Acknowledgment alone is not enough. We strive to move beyond acknowledgment to active solidarity, by building meaningful relationships in our communities, challenging structures of white supremacy, and opposing ongoing colonization. We invite our communities to consider their own responsibilities to Indigenous peoples and to the stolen lands where we make our homes.

HOLD FAST Festival is a celebration of contemporary performance, interdisciplinary art, and community engagement in St. John’s, NL.

Our core values are:
  • Facilitating community engagement and meaningful exchange
  • Increasing public arts literacy
  • Creating opportunities for artists
  • Critiquing and subverting structural oppressions & systems of power, with emphasis on:
    • queer, feminist, and anti-racist perspectives
    • Newfoundland & Labrador regional identity
    • and Indigenous resistance to colonialism

HOLD FAST culminates in a Saturday afternoon Art Crawl, a series of performances, installations, and interactive pop-ups staged outdoors and in non-gallery venues across downtown St. John’s. Past programming has included performances, interactive installations, artist talks, workshops, dance, drag, burlesque, film screenings, and free community events for people of all ages.

Elijah Martel, HOLD FAST Festival and Communications Coordinator

Elijah Martel is a multidisciplinary artist, zinester, and storyteller. Originally from Seattle, they grew up performing at regional and international storytelling festivals. Their work, informed by by an interest in narrative and Jewish folklore, explores world-building, memory, queerness, and relationships to land through a lens of diaspora and cultural exchange.

Elijah holds a BA in Latin American Studies and Film from Bowdoin College. As a 2013 Fulbright grantee, they spent a year teaching in Argentina, and went on to work in Mexico, Turkey, and Mongolia. They attended North Seattle College as a nontraditional student, graduating with an AFA and League for Innovation award in printmaking. Elijah also serves on the board at St. Michael’s Printshop.

Mal Parrott, HOLD FAST 2023 Festival Assistant

Mal Parrott is a performer, artist, choreographer, and arts administrator originally from Conception Bay South, now living in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Since graduating from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2019 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, they seek out any and all ways to bring their administrative skills to arts and performance spaces. They moonlight as a drag performer/host and St. John’s beloved genderbending goblin, Madame Daddy – the resident father figure of the city’s most iconic drag collective, the Phlegm Fatales. They are a big fan of horror movies, cooking, being loudly and unapologetically queer, and the sea.






HOLD FAST is funded by Canadian Heritage.