CULTIVATING CREATIVITY: Visual Arts Bursaries connect students with local artists

Local artist Emebet Belete with grade 2 students at Stirling Public School

By Fiona Campbell/Quinte Art Council

Art helps children grow. Research shows intrinsic benefits include opportunities to develop creativity and imagination, as well as express thoughts and feelings. Extrinsic benefits (though a little harder to quantify) suggest increased engagement in other academic areas, as well as accelerated development of self-confidence and social skills.

There’s also the wellness benefit to art making: participating in the arts can help reduce stress and anxiety, which is especially important during the uncertainty and constantly evolving time of COVID-19.

The Quinte Arts Council’s Arts Education Bursary program was established in 2002 to help subsidize arts programming in Quinte schools. Each year, the council gives bursaries ranging from $150 to $500 for artist fees for in-school visual arts programs. Students have the opportunity to be educated by professional artists and groups, develop their talents, and learn school subjects in an interactive, inspirational and entertaining way.

“It is a blend of true partnerships between generalist teachers, specialist teachers, arts subjects, and art-makers of all kinds that is most likely to yield the richest arts education for the developing child,” writes Holly Ogden, Doctoral Candidate, Faculty of Education, Queen’s University in the Executive Summary of a report entitled “Arts Education for the Development of the Whole Child” prepared for the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.

In 2019 the QAC awarded visual arts bursaries to three Quinte elementary and secondary schools. Close to 200 youth received hands-on instruction from local artists in mixed media and pottery.

“Introducing young artists to local artists not only inspires students but helps them develop an appreciation for art,” reports Stirling Public School teacher Carrie Peltzer, whose Grade 2 students (80 of them) took part in a workshop with local artist Emebet Belete. “Each student successfully completed a beautiful mixed media masterpiece he/she was definitely proud of.”

While in-school instruction is not possible under current COVID-19 protocols, technology has facilitated incredible opportunity for teachers and students to connect via live workshops online.

“Teachers and students are facing a lot of change and uncertainty during this time,” says Janet Jarrell, executive director of the Quinte Arts Council. “We encourage artists and teachers to come together to co-create a virtual workshop experience that will help cultivate that sense of joy and accomplishment that creating brings. Local artists contracted for these activities rely on this source of income. The cultural community is particularly affected during this COVID-19 crisis. The QAC is working to ensure that the artistic and cultural environment is not further impacted and can continue to provide lasting support to the education sector and the community.”

Educators and/or artists submit applications to request funding for artist fees to provide instruction on visual arts activities that support the Ontario curriculum. The deadline to apply for the Visual Arts Bursary program has been extended to October 16. Information can be found online. Click here.