The London Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Thames Valley District School Board and London District Catholic School Board just launched a collaborative program focused on arts-infused learning in schools.
Two years in creation, the London Artists in Residence Program (LAIR) will increase education, training and employment opportunities for professional artists, engage children and youth in the arts and promote the value of the arts to youth, school boards and the community at large.
“The London Arts Council contracts local artists to work collaboratively and intensively with teachers and students,” said Catherine McInnes, education coordinator for the London Arts Council, in a news release. “This program opens up a world of possibilities and greatly impacts London’s youth.”
Arts experiences can be a catalyst for learning for students struggling with traditional teaching methods. Students involved in creative projects demonstrate stronger problem-solving skills, tenacity and the ability to think outside of the box. Having artist-educators in classrooms is a professional development opportunity for teachers, sharing the creative process of a professional artist, giving a teacher the possibility of developing new creative skills and sparking ideas for arts-inspired teaching in various subjects.
The focus of the program is on student and teacher exploration and practice of the creative process, as outlined in the Ontario Arts Curriculum. The artists’ role is to facilitate, model, nurture and assist in creating the environment required for the creative process.
Seeing value in LAIR as a job creation and talent retention strategy, the London Economic Development Corporation has joined the team to support the program. “The addition of LEDC support for this initiative is a testament to the program and the valuable work coming from the arts sector,” said Andrea Halwa, London Arts Council executive director. “We welcome them to the team and look forward to a positive working relationship.”
Part of the new culture strategy for the City of London, LAIR contributes to economic development through job creation for local professional artists. The LAIR program supports the artists and teachers connection — and develops a standard of excellence for artist-educators through a juried process, providing quality assurance for the school boards.
Funding support to develop and create this strategic program was provided through The Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport Cultural Strategic Investment Fund and the London Community Foundation Beryl Ivey Endowment for the Arts.