The Artist in Residence Studio program is a working model for sustainable ongoing art education in schools. AIRS brings together local professional artists, teachers, and community partners to create opportunities for equitable access to long-term visual arts education for elementary students in Vancouver public schools. The model for the AIRS program emerged through a series of community roundtable consultations and is inspired in part by the Reggio Emilia Atelier model and the internationally acclaimed Studio 13.
In the AIRS model, a dedicated studio space is created within an elementary school in consultation with the Vancouver School Board and school staff. This enables a local professional artist to become part of the school community for a year or more, and work collaboratively with teachers, to provide meaningful, hands-on engagements in the visual arts for students across the whole school. Funding for the AIRS program is provided through a variety of financial partners including private donors, art institutions, legacy funds and the VSB.
Research shows that the benefits of the visual arts are realized through consistent engagement over time. Over time, students are able to develop technical and perceptual skills, build confidence in visual communication and self-expression and deepen their understanding of the art making process. Currently in BC, access to specialist art programming in public schools through artist residencies is short term, limited to a few classrooms within a school and reliant on parent fundraising or competitive grant application processes. The AIRS model seeks to address the issue of equity and consistency in visual arts programming for students within public elementary schools.