As part of the Hamilton Arts Council’s commitment to keep our community informed of the latest discussions affecting creative practice in our city, we’re pleased to introduceCommittee Notes as one of several regular features to appear on this blog. These posts highlight the key conversations emerging from our committees, inviting you to reflect and share in their future development.
The Arts Education Committee is a new committee of the Hamilton Arts Council, formed in January 2012 in response to feedback from a number of our organizational members and community partners. Our first meeting on January 19 was attended by Beth Gibson,Industry-Education Council; Astrid Hepner, An Instrument for Every Child; Tricia LeClair,Hamilton Children’s Choir; Matt McInnes, The Print Studio, Tessa Ryan, Turn-Around Projects; Stephanie Seagram, The Cossart Exchange, Diana Weir, Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and Karen Wilkins, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, with Hamilton Arts Council representation from Stephanie Vegh, Executive Director and Stephen Near, Program Director. Guests invited to present to this group were Sarah Ehmke of the City of Hamilton’s Culture Division and Paul Weston from HECFI.
Guest Presentation from Sarah Ehmke, City of Hamilton Culture Division
Sarah Ehmke presented the 2012 Nominations guidelines and explained updates to the eligibility criteria. Nominations are due February 17, 2012 – visitwww.hamilton.ca/artsawards for more information.
Guest Presentation from Paul Weston, HECFI
Paul Weston proposed to HECFI that rooms in the Hamilton Convention Centre be offered to arts organizations to run youth summer programs. The space would be offered rent-free with minimal costs to cover staffing for set-up, cleaning and catering. A workshop has been scheduled for March 5 at the Hamilton Convention Centre to present this opportunity to the wider arts community.
The group was asked to reflect on their present experiences working with youth, challenges being faced, and what we think this group can achieve to address these challenges.
Shared Resources: Interface between arts organizations can create access to a larger pool of art instruction talent and an overall sharing of resources.
Arts organizations have the capacity to help both students and teachers by providing arts activities typically not offered in students and providing expertise not available to generalist teachers, especially at elementary level. Access to arts educators who can work with both students and teachers could be facilitated by this group.
Visibility/Communication: Arts organization working with youth need visibility and communication with schools in order to attract students to their programs.
Beth Gibson of the Industry-Education Council has contact with both school boards as well as post-secondary institutions and is well placed to pass this information along to educational institutions.
Karen Wilkins, Arts Consultant for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) has an elementary arts contact in every school committed to passing information on to staff. In secondary schools, this information is passed to specialist arts teachers and department heads. Responses of principals to this initiative have been very positive and welcoming.
Developments within HWDSB: Arts Consultant Karen Wilkins shared a number of developments in HWDSB’s commitments to Arts Education.
An Arts Strategy document identifying the HWDSB’s commitments to Arts Education and implementation strategies for short and long term will be released to principals in Spring 2012. The document addresses students, staff/teacher development, and community/parental involvement.
Karen is collecting “exemplary timetables” to identify best practices for integrating arts into the curriculum. Arts educators are increasingly recognizing the value of integrating the arts as a multidisciplinary link between curriculum areas, as in the case of The Print Studio’s Eco Arts program. Karen lauds this approach over the one-off field trip and the arts presented without a wider context.
Media arts is linked to several curriculum areas and taught by specialists in arts, sciences, and communications with no specific accountability to teach digital media as an arts discipline. Technologies along with creativity are 21st century fluencies that are in high demand in HWDSB schools. Principals want support as instructional leaders in their schools and collaborative learning is also in high demand.
Barriers to Equal Access: At present, arts education is not consistently and readily accessible to youth across the city.
While individual teachers within schools can sometimes develop outstanding arts programs in a high-needs setting, these opportunities arise by chance rather than design. In Hamilton in particular, diverse populations create more pressing socio-economic concerns in the classroom that compel teachers to meet basic needs at the expense of arts programs that could also play a positive role in improving the quality of life for these students.
This committee would like to see education programs that bring together students of different backgrounds and bridge geographic divides such as that between the mountain and downtown. At present, affordability of programs and transportation for youth from socially disadvantaged backgrounds are key challenges to establishing such programs.
Ontario Arts Council Granting Programs: The Ontario Arts Council administers a number of programs to fund artists working in schools.
Very few Hamilton artists are applying for the Ontario Arts Council’s grants for artists to work in schools and those artists outside of Hamilton who receive grants are not opting to travel to Hamilton schools. The Hamilton Arts Council plans to invite the program officer to Hamilton to educate local artists on these opportunities. Karen notes that music expertise is in high demand in Hamilton schools, especially in for grades 4-6.
Learn more about OAC Granting Programs for Arts Education by following this link to the OAC website.
A Facebook Group has been established to connect members of this committee with others in Hamilton’s Arts Education community. Join the conversation today at Arts Education in Hamilton.
The Hamilton Arts Council is still welcoming arts writers to contribute articles to this blog –see our guidelines here. Member Profiles are also welcome on an ongoing basis – see our standard profile questions here.