Why the Arts

Why the arts?

As stated in the Ontario curriculum “Teachers are responsible for developing appropriate instructional strategies to help students achieve the arts curriculum expectations, as well as appropriate methods for assessing and evaluating student learning.”

Art is AMAZING. Why?  Well, it’s part of being human.  It’s one of the things that sets us apart from animals. Across all cultures and all eras, men and women have always expressed themselves through creative acts such as painting, dancing, acting, singing and playing musical instruments. Art is something that brings together thought and feeling, intellectual ideas, and emotion.

The arts also contribute to our economy. The Canadian Conference of the Arts has estimated that the creative economy contributes $46 billion a year to Canada’s economy, including not only the fine arts, but also the TV industry, fashion, design, architecture, and many other sectors.

Arts education is powerful.  Arts programs are part of a well-rounded education; they are vital for the development of a creative culture.  They help foster social and communication skills, and encourage persistance and experimentation.  They appeal to students with varied learning styles.  The arts have the power to motivate kids who almost never feel motivated.

Studies consistently show that arts education has a huge impact on children. As the Ministry’s curriculum document puts it, “It is well documented that the intellectual and emotional development of children is enhanced through study of the arts.” (Ontario Ministry of Education, The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8: The Arts (Revised), 2009, p. 3)

Current concerns with arts education

Delivering quality arts education to all students is challenging for any school board.  The Ministry of Education continues to focus on literacy and numeracy instruction, with little attention paid specifically to arts education, and next to no designated funding.  At the same time, almost everyone – teachers, parents, Board Trustees – acknowledges the value and importance of arts education.  So, how to do the best with what we have?

The following are some of the ACA’s recommendations:

  • develop a clear and meaningful board-wide arts education policy to provide greater guidance to teachers and administrators;
  • encourage schools to earmark a budget for arts materials and other expenses;
  • support more teacher training in the arts, especially for those elementary teachers who teach the arts daily but lack specific skills;
  • encourage schools to assign more specialized arts teachers to elementary classes.
  • eliminate the hierarchy in arts education, in which music is often priviledged and dance is neglected
  • assure more consistency in the quality of arts instruction throughout the district

Wise words

“… while the three Rs provide kids with the basic tools that they need, it is the arts that give them the imagination to do something with these tools.”  –  Bob Ezrin, music producer

Champion – the ACA engages in activities that champion the arts:

  • making recommendations to OCDSB trustees and staff regarding arts programs
  • making presentations to school councils

Enrich – the ACA helps enrich OCDSB arts programs through numerous initiatives:

  • the Arts in the Community directory lists over 20 arts organizations in the Ottawa area that offer programs for schools–including workshops, performances, and exhibitions

Celebrate– the ACA celebrates arts education by recognizing extraordinary work

  • since it was founded over 25 years ago, the ACA has celebrated excellence in arts education with its Arts Awards. Each year some fifteen awards are given to outstanding educators and volunteers for teaching dance, drama, literary arts, media arts, music and visual arts.