Arts’ con­tent

Pro­gram’s goal is to en­gage stu­dents in art on an everyday level

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL MACEACHERN

At least three schools in our cov­er­age area are tak­ing ad­van­tage of the NL Arts Coun­cil’s ArtsSmarts pro­gram.

Three area schools are run­ning pro­grams this year with fund­ing from ArtsSmarts, un­der the um­brella of the New­found­land and Labrador Arts Coun­cil.

ArtsSmarts, now in its 12th year, is fund­ing 36 projects in schools across the prov­ince, with $150,000 in fund­ing from the pro­vin­cial ed­u­ca­tion bud­get, with the goal of build­ing an ed­u­ca­tion in and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for arts and cul­ture. Schools ap­ply to the coun­cil, which will pro­vide 80 per cent of ac­cepted projects, up to a max­i­mum of $5,500, with schools pro­vid­ing the rest of the funds.

At Ron­calli Cen­tral High School in Avon­dale, the “ Some­thing Old and Some­thing New” project in­volves artist Wanita Bates, who will work with stu­dents in grades 7 and 8 to cre­ate a piece of art­work mix­ing photography, paint­ing text, em­broi­dery and found ob­jects, al­low­ing the stu­dents to tell the story of where they live and their place in the world.

At Tri­con Ele­men­tary in Bay de Verde, the “ Ex­plor­ing Our Cul­tures... On Deck and Be­low” project in­volves stu­dents from kinder­garten to Grade 6 learn­ing about their cul­ture and tra­di­tions, as well as learn­ing about habi­tats and species from the At­lantic Ocean. The stu­dents will work with vis­ual artist Kelly McEn­te­gart to cre­ate dif­fer­ent works of art in dif­fer­ent grades.

McEn­te­gart is also work­ing with the stu­dents at Acre­man Ele­men­tary School in Green’s Har­bour. Patti Collins Yet­man, prin­ci­pal of Acre­man Ele­men­tary, said the stu­dents at the school ben­e­fit from work­ing with McEn­te­gart. Acre­man’s pro­gram, “Ex­plor­ing Our World ... Re­duc­ing Our Car­bon Foot­print,” stud­ies the ef­fects of global warm­ing on var­i­ous species. Dif­fer­ent grade lev­els will work on dif­fer­ent art projects; kinder­garten stu­dents, for ex­am­ple, will ex­plore - through draw­ing, paint­ing and sculp­ture - the ways plants and an­i­mals de­pend on each other. Stu­dents in grades 5 and 6 will paint acrylic works of habi­tats and species that are en­dan­gered.

“ We wanted to come up with some kind of a pro­gram or a project that would high­light all the things that we’re try­ing to do as everyday prac­tices in our school and at home,” said Collins Yet­man. “And we wanted to re­late it to the cur­ricu­lum as well. And that’s the kind of cri­te­ria that the ArtsSmarts pro­gram is based on.”

She added that the ex­pe­ri­ence McEn­te­gart brings is “in­valu­able.”

“A lot of us teach­ers here, we don’t have any train­ing other than what we did with our first de­gree,” she said. “None of us are re­ally trained artists. So for the kids to have that ex­po­sure to work with Kelly is great. And plus she’s re­ally good with the chil­dren too.”

Collins Yet­man said McEn­te­gart will work with stu­dents in kinder­garten through Grade 3 for the first half of the project, and then grades 4 through 6 for the sec­ond half.

It’s the third ArtsSmarts project for the school in as many years; two years ago, Acre­man Ele­men­tary did a project on healthy liv­ing, and last year the fo­cus was on mak­ing con­nec­tions with math­e­mat­ics to the real world.

Collins Yet­man said the idea for this year’s pro­gram arose while she was talk­ing with McEn­te­gart as last year’s pro­gram was wind­ing up.

“ What we had to do then was go through all the grades and match up some cur­ricu­lum out­comes with each sub­ject area that would go with this idea,” she said, “and then Kelly came up with some ac­tiv­i­ties that would go for each grade level. One thing she’s looking at is the po­lar bear habi­tat, and of course how

the green­house gases and all that is re­ally af­fect­ing their habi­tat. And an­other thing that they would be looking at is mak­ing things out of re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als.”

Collins Yet­man said that usu­ally when they fin­ish a project they ar­range to have an un­veil­ing to the gen­eral pub­lic and in­vite some­one from the Arts Coun­cil to see the re­sults of the pro­gram. Last year, grade 5 and 6 stu­dents con­structed a model of an old New­found­land vil­lage us­ing geo­met­ric solids, and the kinder­garten and Grade 1 stu­dents made an al­pha­bet and num­bers book that was printed and now sits in the school’s li­brary. The prin­ci­pal said the stu­dents love the pro­gram. “Kelly will come once a week, and the stu­dents look for­ward to it. She will spend the whole day with them,” she said.

Ken Mur­phy, the pro­gram man­ager, said ArtsSmarts is one of three Arts in Ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams run by the Arts Coun­cil. The other two are the School Tour­ing pro­gram, which funds tours of pro­fes­sional artists and groups. He said there were just a few pro­gram applications that weren’t ac­cepted, as the coun­cil’s goal is to award all the money that’s al­lo­cated.

“ There may be a cir­cum­stance in a pro­gram where the as­sess­ment com­mit­tee de­cides, ‘ Th­ese are the ones we feel we want to sup­port, but th­ese oth­ers are there and there’s some money left on the ta­ble, but we don’t think th­ese are meet­ing the goals of the pro­gram’ - that could hap­pen, rarely. It’s hap­pened a few times. Not in ArtsSmarts - we’ve al­ways funded all the fund­ing we’ve ever had in ArtsSmarts.”

Mur­phy said the re­sponse from teach­ers and stu­dents so far has been very pos­i­tive.

“It’s a great broad­en­ing of the cur­ricu­lum, is re­ally the view we take on it,” he said. “It’s based on the phi­los­o­phy of broad-based learn­ing. Dif­fer­ent peo­ple have dif­fer­ent learn­ing styles, and what ArtsSmarts tries to do is broaden the way you teach a cur­ricu­lum sub­ject, so that kids who are more kines­thetic or more ac­tive learn­ers can use it that way, can re­ally con­nect with the sub­ject that way.”

A broader goal of the pro­gram is to en­gage stu­dents with arts on an everyday level, said Mur­phy, and to in­crease ap­pre­ci­a­tion for dif­fer­ent art forms.

“A key part of it is, yes, to en­gage stu­dents in arts when they’re young, so that they will be able to ap­pre­ci­ate what art is about, and par­tic­u­larly not to see it as some­thing elite. So to have that ex­pe­ri­ence that art isn’t for just the elite, it’s for ev­ery­body. And that I can un­der­stand how a paint­ing is made; when I look at it now, I’ll un­der­stand how the artist made the paint­ing. Or when I see a play, I’ll un­der­stand the steps that the ac­tors and di­rec­tor had to go through to make that hap­pen,” he said.

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