Arts Consultants On The Value Of Art Education: Connecting With Oneself, Others, And Curriculum

Arts consultants play an essential role in the education system. Often experienced artists and educators themselves, arts consultants are passionate about the vital place the arts have in the development of children and teens. 

Art Education For Connecting With Oneself

Bronwen Hughes, the Arts Consultant for the Central Quebec School Board, says, 

“For me, arts in schools is the number one way to have students develop all the different aspects of their being, as well as to be able to ground themselves, growing as a teen and as a young person.”

Art Education For Connecting With Others

Echoing the importance of the arts for individual growth, Sylwia Bielec of LEARN underlines the importance of the arts as a means of engaging the whole person. She also expands to include the role of the arts in helping students connect and understand others. As Sylwia says, 

“At LEARN, we talk a lot about head, heart and hands. The arts are a place where your head, heart and hands are solicited, which is your whole person. When you have that, you feel totally connected to yourself and to others. That means you can overcome difficulties. You can build strong relationships. You can use your voice to be heard and to contribute to your community.”

One of Sylwia’s dance projects with Cycle 2 elementary school students demonstrates her words beautifully: 

“There was [a] group that did a piece on food because of an anecdote that I told about my immigrant story. One of the things that they had learned is that the kids would make fun of me because of my lunch… They were curious about that, and they were like, ‘What kind of lunch did you have?’ And then they made a leap, ‘Well, your lunch doesn’t sound strange to us now. So if we’re going to tell the story so that other people can understand, we have to find a weirder lunch… And so they tried to come up with a different lunch. They came up with Moroccan lunch because one of the kids was Moroccan. They made this beautiful sort of sketch in which the girl reflects on remembering her grandmother making a tajine. I could see the parents in the audience crying when she got to that point… [A]rt is real, and when kids make things that are real, it empowers them to be brilliant human creators, which is their birthright, essentially.”

Art Education For Delivering Curriculum

In addition to helping students deepen and express their understanding of themselves and others, arts consultants are key in helping connect teachers and artists for the common goal of delivering curriculum. As Nicolas Doyon, Arts Consultant for the English Montreal School Board says, 

[T]he Quebec Education Program provides students with fundamental arts, with an emphasis on creating, producing, interpreting and appreciating. ELAN ArtistsInspire Artists acting as cultural agents in the school will help make a program complete by actually sharing one’s creative process with students in a workshop setting… I’ve seen exchanges between ELAN artists and some of our students, the exchanges and collaborations are priceless. They’re essential.”