“The true purpose of arts education is not necessarily to create more professional dancers and artists. It’s to create more complete human beings who are critical thinkers, who have curious minds, who can lead productive lives.”
– Kelly Pollock
With an emphasis on sparking, encouraging and nurturing creativity within the new generation, 2022 marks another successful year for the Arts in Schools (AIS) Pilot programme. Reaching 367 tamariki across two schools, the 2022 AIS programme aimed to encourage creative thinking, foster critical thinking, and increase engagement among students.
One of the programme’s main objectives was to grow and support wellbeing for students, while giving them the opportunity to expand their horizons and discover their ability to be creative. According to the American Art Therapy Association, artistic expression may decrease anxiety, feelings of anger, and depression, instead fostering greater self-awareness and helping students regulate their emotions. For primary-school aged children in such developmental years, this gives the arts a critical role to play. The arts equip these students with the tools, experiences, and creative processes needed to build creativity into their day-to-day lives.
During the programme and under the direction of a professional artist, students are given the opportunity to play, create and experiment with a chosen art medium such as painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture. And with over 64% of the students surveyed saying the programme made them feel joyful and happy and 57% saying it made them feel proud, it’s clear the students found value in the opportunity to experiment in artistic mediums they may not have had the opportunity to before.
Even more than that, however, the arts programme gave students the tools and opportunity to be creative, to push themselves past their own self-conceived limitations, expand their horizons and create something they could be proud of. When asked how they felt at the completion of their art piece, one student replied, “Like Leonardo da Vinci when he finished the Mona Lisa (probably).”
The programme was designed to inspire community connections, giving students the rare opportunity to make first-hand connections with local art professionals. With a total of 11 art professionals involved with the programme this year, AIS helped teachers develop relationships for future projects, while also helping parents and family members discover arts professionals in their community.
To conclude this year’s AIS programme, we have pulled together an official Arts in Schools Summary for 2022, detailing and expanding on the programme and its outcomes for the year to date. A huge thank you to our funders for their generosity and support – Youthtown Inc, Aotearoa Gaming Trust and Central Lakes Trust.
What’s next? After 2 years of successfully delivering the pilot AIS programme to 700 tamariki across 4 primary schools in our district, the surveyed results and valuable intel provided by educators from local schools, is now being reviewed by our Three Lakes Cultural Trust board so we can strategise how to evolve our Arts in School programme, and one day, have it available to all schools in our region.