Signed in as:
Signed in as:
Children have their own unique experience and creative potentiality to share with the world. At the same time, children are growing up in a world of global conflict, widening economic disparity, systemic discrimination, social injustice, and environmental degradation. Children's interactions are becoming more enmeshed in online consumer-driven social media and gaming platforms, and are struggling with depression, anxiety, and addiction, and a loss of hope and purpose.
Participation in the arts gives children in schools the space and opportunity to:
The arts give students voice, agency and the capacity to imagine, and live into the possibilities of a just, sustainable and shared world.
Although the arts are part of the core curriculum in BC, many public elementary schools lack the expertise and funding resources to support programming in the arts for their students. Research shows that it is sustained involvement in specialist programming that realizes the benefits of the arts for youth in terms of life outcomes and mental health, and particularly for those with socio-economic disadvantage.
AIRS believes all children should have the opportunity to develop their creative potential through the visual arts as an integral part of their elementary education within their local neighborhood school.
AIRS seeks to address the gap in equity and access to visual arts programming by developing a sustainable working model for supporting artists in long-term studio residencies in public elementary schools and prioritizing schools where students would otherwise not have access.
“Our students sometimes live in a harsh urban environment where they see the negative effects of poverty. Things such as art and music are considered extras in a community that often struggles with food, clothing, and rent. Having a studio space and an artist in residence who explores artistic expression and teaches art process skills gives such support and encouragement to these children. The students are learning to express themselves and have the opportunity to show their knowledge through art.”
- Dorothy Watkins, Former Principal, Seymour Elementary
The Artist in Residence Studio program is a unique working model for providing access to sustainable ongoing art education in public elementary schools. In the AIRS model a studio space is created within an elementary school in consultation with the Vancouver School Board to enable a local professional artist (or a team of artists) to become part of that school community for a year or more. Artists work alongside and in consultation with teachers to design and facilitate meaningful, socially relevant, art making engagements for students across the whole school.
Artists bring a diversity of art practices, processes, cultural backgrounds, identities, experiences and areas of interest or passion. Through the careful placement of artists in VSB schools, AIRS commits to an emergent curriculum designed for each community of learners that is committed to an ethics of diversity, inclusion, reciprocity and critical reflection.
Programming is co-creative and community oriented, informed by the artist's own art practice and vision, the space of the studio, and the creative engagement of the students; It is focused on learning through process and directed towards student development and wellbeing in community. Each residency concludes with an opportunity for celebrating and witnessing individual and collaborative student work, for each other and for the wider school community.
AIRS is an evolving collaboration between artists, teachers, district staff and community partners.
We are committed to ongoing research and inquiry into best practices for artist teacher collaboration and studio residencies that support student learning, wellbeing and belonging community. This occurs through sharing and learning circles for teachers and artists throughout the year. We are building understanding and documenting the value and role of the arts in public education for student learning and social emotional development within a school community.
Together we are re-imagining what arts education in schools could look like and the scope of what is possible through studio residencies in schools.
AIRS is committed to supporting safe, inclusive studio spaces that respect and affirm the diverse social and cultural identities of students. We offer professional development and learning opportunities for both artists and teachers involved in AIRS through out the year. Artists are provided training opportunities in anti-oppression and trauma informed practice. AIRS is further committed to the journey of reconciliation. We are learning from Indigenous artists, educators and VSB staff, to increase our understanding of indigenous perspectives and protocols and the ways in which our art practice in the studio can affirm and align with Indigenous ways of knowing and learning.
The reach and impact of AIRS is limited to funding availability. While schools are responsible for material costs of the program, AIRS provides funding for artists through partnerships, grants and charitable donations.
Presently, AIRS supports studio residencies in 14 public elementary schools in Vancouver.
Through the AIRS program, students have shown appreciable benefits in creativity and persistence, sustained attention and self regulation, independent thinking and problem solving, self confidence and expression, meaningful inclusion, and a greater sense of belonging within community.
For the students, the studio is a shared space of freedom and imaginative possibility that builds a sense of community through creative transformation. Working with an artist encourages students to take risk and boosts confidence in their own creative capacities.
“When I look at the art, I feel love and kindness to everyone.”
Grade 1 student, Nightingale
“Art lets us express our feelings without feeling discriminated.”
Stefani, Grade 6
“Art is important to learn in school because kids can express their feelings and be free to what there mind is open to. I think art is important to me because when I make art I feel free.”
Dave, Grade 7
AIRS provides a community of like minded community engaged artists committed to developing their art practice and pedagogies in their work with schools. AIRS endeavors to provides stable residency opportunities for artists to expand the scope and possibility of their teaching practice through a longterm relationship with a school community.
AIRS supports capacity building for artists interested in working in schools through a mentorship residency program which has been successful in building artist knowledge, confidence and experience in translating their practice into an elementary school context.
AIRS offers artist discussion groups for artists periodically through the year to support and learn from one another through sharing together. We have also been able to host guest experts providing insights into particular topics such as multilingualism, student engagement, Indigenous ways of knowing, anti-racism, land based practices and sustainability.
Working alongside an artist in the studio provides teachers first hand experience and professional development opportunities in art processes including material explorations, embodied ways of knowing and collaborative practice. It also gives teachers an opportunity to see their students' capacities from a different perspective.
“The artist’s ability to guide and encourage helped to boost my confidence in combining various curricular content areas, competencies and school goals. The focus was on experiencing the artistic process rather than creating a product and this approach was deeply engaging for myself and my students.”
Andrew Swain, K Teacher
Lead teachers have the opportunity to participate in a district wide collaborative inquiry that meets periodically throughout the year. This provides the opportunity to deepens their understanding of art making processes in relation to core competency development and Indigenous ways of knowing and learning.
We have had the privilege of learning from leaders in art and education including Dr. Jane Garland, Dr. Sylvia Kind, Shelley MacDonald, Candice Halls, Aaron Nelson Moody, Christine Giesbrecht, Rebecca Heyl and Lori York.
Watch this video produced by Alison Chan, Sky Li and Vivian James to learn more about the AIRS program. (March 2019)
The Artist In Residence Studio program is honoured to be working together on the unceded, unsurrendered and traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm|Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh|Squamish & səlilwətaɬ |Tsleil-Waututh people, where we learn, live and work. We humbly acknowledge that we are unlearning and relearning and with this acknowledgement comes the commitment to engage in ongoing acts of reconciliation.
PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION: xʷməθkʷəy̓əm - Musqueam (pronounced Mus-kwee-um) Sḵwxwú7mesh - Squamish Nation (pronounced Skwa-mish) səlilwətaɬ - Tsleil-Waututh (pronounced Slay-wah-tuth) Please do not capitalize x in xʷməθkʷəy̓əm & s in səlilwətaɬ Do capitalize S in Skwxwú7mesh *The above has been shared by Chas Desjarlais- District Principal of Indigenous Education.