Throughout May and June, Regional Arts Victoria is raising funds to help disadvantaged regional school students experience high quality art. In this blog series, Regional Arts Victoria staff reflect on why a good arts education is so important for children.
The Education & Families program enables and supports educators and artists to present high quality arts programs to schools and communities, inspiring young people across the state. Through the arts we encourage young people to use the creative side of their brains, to think critically and have a voice – and to contribute to making the world a better place.
What a world it will be with young people who can dream and innovate, think, connect and collaborate. We are interested in finding ways for their education to be relevant and meaningful – to develop the whole child and recognise their lifelong learning.
In this privileged position we receive feedback regularly from artists, students and their teachers, confirming what we know to be true: the arts have intrinsic value to us as human beings.
We have been deeply moved when teachers or parents report back to us the importance and value of these programs, and delight in the “light-bulb moments” that enrich the lives of young people in regional Victoria, some that might slip by unnoticed for various reasons. There are too many to include here, but I want to share some enlightening moments.
In the appropriately titled playwriting program Finding Your Voice, facilitated by Ned Manning in Kerang, a teenage girl who was generally disengaged with school, with poor attendance rates and other social issues, found a creative outlet – in her writing. She was so excited by her new found ability that she took her writing materials with her on a long truck journey immediately afterwards with her father, happily writing all the way. A first for her, and rewarding to see her confidence and self-esteem grow in this way, not to mention the emergence of her previously hidden talent.
A young autistic boy was encouraged to dance and contribute to the development of a story through the gentle encouragement and expertise of the fabulous Impro Melbourne team. His teachers were gobsmacked and so very thrilled for him.
In the dark of a theatre in Horsham, a prep teacher whispered to me through her tears. One of her prep students, who had not spoken a word all year, was up on stage performing with her classmates in front of 200 people. Hothouse Theatre’s Warning: Small Parts invited local schools to respond to the script by developing their own performance, and she blossomed thanks to the support of the performers and director and her classroom teacher.
And lastly, an older primary student who discovered she really could participate, added her energy and her voice to the performance during Dave Jones’s Balance recently. Her teachers were amazed and she couldn’t wipe the smile from her face.
These moments help demonstrate that with exposure to the arts – to dance, to music, to drama, media and visual arts – children can and do realise their potential. They can use their imaginations to communicate and creatively make meaning of their world. Why do we tour art programs to schools? To inspire young people across Victoria.