WHY INVITE AN ARTIST TO YOUR SCHOOL?
For many children, the Arts can be intimidating and completely separate from everyday living. Messages from adults around them can be confusing, as art is often dismissed as unimportant, yet those who get the most attention in the media are artists (actors, singers). The artists they do hear about may be so celebrated, that to even attempt a similar art form may appear impossible. It seems unrealistic that anyone could ever achieve what the celebrities do. Other art is barely noticed: graphic design, functional art, the written words that give life to a favourite television show, or the music that underscores an exciting new movie.
Art is all around us, all the time, and some cultures don’t even have a word for “artist”, so integrated is art to their lives. Giving children opportunities to personally experience the arts not only enriches their lives, it opens their minds to understanding new cultures, discovering a passion within, learning about new career possibilities, and cultivating life-long appreciation.
Want to know more?
Q: Why would I want to have an artist visit my school? What are the benefits?
A: As studies continue to show, the benefits of arts & culture in schools are many. To name just a few: Kids stay in school, excited & eager to learn; as a tool, the arts support teachers’ lessons & fulfill curriculum requirements; the arts increase test scores in math, reading, and more; the arts improve critical thinking; kids are more invested in school & community; students explore and develop understanding of other cultures; and, kids are less likely to use illegal substances. Especially significant is that, through the arts, students who are slow to read or otherwise struggle in school will learn discipline, how to work as a team, and how to meet deadlines. Those students also gain confidence, take ownership of their education, and develop presentation and organization skills.
Q: How do the arts help fulfill curriculum requirements?
A: The Culture in the Schools program (from the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport and the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine) offers hands-on workshops that encourage students to develop an active role in their learning. Since the arts can be used as a method to teach any ‘regular’ subject, it is up to the teacher to make the connection from the workshop to the classroom, but the artist/writer will have enriched the learning experiences of both students and staff. Also, remember to include your students in the planning! As experienced artist-educators have learned, the best arts projects with youth are ones in which the youth create the project. The possibilities are endless.
- Read more: “Motivating Youth Through Arts” by Jennifer Cooke, ACCORD Workshop presentation (March 2012)
Q: What kind of workshop would the artist/writer do with the students?
A: There are many potential models. The workshops are practical, hands-on experiences for the students. It may be a one-day workshop, or several workshops spanning weeks or months. The workshop(s) must be “designed and carried out by professional artists, writers and cultural organizations (who must be listed in the Répertoire de ressources culture-éducation) in conjunction with teaching staff. And, project must include three phases: a preparation phase, an implementation phase, and a transfer-of-learning phase.”
- Read more on the Culture in the Schools program website.
Q: What funding is available?
A: Quebec’s Culture in the Schools Program may cover up to 75% of allowable expenses, depending upon the region’s demand and resources. The other 25% may be covered by the School Board, parent/teacher organization, fundraising, and sponsorships. It is very likely you will receive funding. And if not the first year, please do not give up! Try, try again. It is truly worth it.
Q: What is the deadline to apply?
A: Early fall for each school year.
Q: Is it difficult to make this happen?
A: No. As one educator puts it, “The Culture in the Schools process was painless.”
Q: How much time will I need to put into this program?
A: Approximately 4 or 5 hours (outside of teaching hours) to submit the application and prepare for each project. However, the program also covers expenses related to having a substitute teacher, so you may be able to do this during regular work time, or you may have someone on staff (not a teacher) that can do it.
Q: Where can I find available artists?
A: All artists, writers and cultural organizations available through the Culture in the Schools program are listed in the Répertoire de ressources culture-éducation, updated once every 2 years. (There are over 1,850 listings!)
- For help choosing from the Répertoire, go to: ACCORD's Featured Artists & Writers.
Q: Can I apply if I haven’t contacted the artist/writer yet?
A: No. You must agree on dates and other details before applying.
Q: Which arts disciplines are available to bring into my school?
A: Artists work professionally in one of the following: performing arts; visual arts; cinema, video, television and radio; arts and crafts. Writers can be chosen by literary genre: comic books, fairy tales, youth literature, short stories, poetry, drama, novels and other longer narrative forms. Cultural organizations work in the following areas: performing arts; visual arts; cultural associations; cinema, media and new technologies; municipal cultural outlets; literature and libraries; heritage, history and museology.
Q: How can I be assured of the value of a specific artist? How does an artist qualify to be included in the Répertoire?
A: Artists, writers and cultural organizations included in the Répertoire have been accepted based on their applications and professional status. Additionally, artists must have completed formal training (or equivalent), been practicing their artistic discipline for at least 2 years, and must have professionally presented their work in the past 5 years. Writers must have been published or produced professionally in the past 7 years. A selection committee must have reviewed and accepted their work on a professional basis, as well as how it relates to the Culture in the Schools program.
Q: What if I want to invite an artist/writer that is not listed in the Répertoire?
A: You must choose artists/writers listed in the Répertoire to qualify for funding under the Culture in the Schools program. If they are not listed, you can still invite them, but the funding must come from elsewhere. Also, you can encourage them to apply to be listed in the next edition of the Répertoire (deadline will be fall of 2013).
Q: An artist will be coming to my community to do a show/concert/exhibition. How can I get them to come into my school and work with the students?
A: Look up the artist in the Répertoire de ressources culture-éducation, and if they are listed, contact them to discuss possible dates and workshops they could do in your school. If it is too late to get funding, or if they are not listed in the Répertoire, work with the presenter/group who has contracted the artist to see if a partnership or sponsorship is possible. Alternatively, your local “parent/teacher association” may have last-minute funding available. Often, if an artist will already be traveling a distance, they will be happy to make the most of their stay. And while they should never be expected to work for free, there may be flexibility in their fee since the cost of travel is already accounted for.
Q: An artist is coming to my school. How can we take advantage of having them here and do something with/for the community as well?
A: Contact your local presenters, bookstore or gallery owners, librarians, Lions’ Club, community center, or your Regional Association and let them know who you have coming to your community. Alternatively, your school could host a public event or workshop in the evening or on the weekend in partnership with a local presenter.
Q: Are there limits to how many projects/workshops each school can have through the program?
A: There is no limit to how much time an artist/writer works in a school. A series of workshops can span one day or several months. Nor is there an official limit to the number of projects. The only limit is funding, as each regional management committee must distribute its funds fairly, depending on demand and any pre-set criteria. Accordingly, the regional management committee may set limits on number of projects or days an artist can work in a given school. Currently, there is preference given to projects done with high-school students, and to cultural outings. (Note: funding does cover transportation costs, but not ticket prices for cultural outings.)