School arts program suspended

Tara Bradbury
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One of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s programs for schoolchildren has been suspended due to funding cuts.

Started in 2005, the NLAC’s Visiting Artists Program saw local artists visit schools to conduct activities with the students. The arts council accepted applications from teachers in the provincial school system, and provided up to $500 to cover artist fees.

The program — along with two others: ArtsSmarts, which encourages students to participate in art through school-based projects, and the School Touring Program, which provides funding to support artists who wish to tour productions to schools across the province — was funded under the provincial government’s Cultural Connections program. To date, that program has invested about $17.4 million in music, theatre and visual arts equipment and programming in schools.

“Funding for these programs was increased in 2009,” Education Minister Clyde Jackman told The Telegram in an emailed statement. “However, with the province facing a budget deficit this year, the Department of Education was called upon to find savings that would have the least impact on front-line services to students.”

Over the past few years, Jackman said, an overlap has developed between the three programs.

The Visiting Artists Program was the smallest of the three, and awarded $50,000 annually, said Ken Murphy, program manager with the NLAC.

“It was serving a need for a lot of educators and a lot of artists, and it was certainly used — we had over 80 projects last year across the province,” he said. “It certainly was a program that there was a lot of demand for, so it wasn’t an easy decision as far as what to do with it. There are no easy decisions when funding has been cut.”

Murphy said the arts council would look at reinstating the program if funding is increased.


*Note: the headline on this story has been corrected. The NLAC's ArtsSmarts and School Touring programs will both continue as normal.

Organizations: The Telegram, Department of Education

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Recent comments

  • Wendy Shirran
    September 26, 2013 - 08:42

    This is not an unexpected move! However I am continuously appalled how both the government is devaluing Art in education. It truly scares me how the creative nature of students is not given the opportunity to flourish and be held in high regard. It is embarrassing and heart breaking. These external Arts Education programs are crucial and it seems the Department of education and the school boards have become reliant on them since they them selves do not allot adequate funding to develop a solid art program with in the system. This is a chronic problem and so sad. Not so surprised Art educator!

  • Kelly Bruton
    September 20, 2013 - 07:01

    Art Education in general is being ignored in the curriculum in our schools. The Arts are not frills and this decision is so disappointing but not unexpected. For the province to make this decision in 2013 when the value of the Arts has been well documented. No wonder our students can't read maps we are ignoring the development of skills that only the Arts can provide. Narrow Minds. Can we afford to move backward?

  • Patricia Andrews
    September 18, 2013 - 10:35

    This is not good. With all of the pressure children already have in school they need and enjoy Art in their lives. Especially for those children who live in communities that can avail of diverse Art Forms.

  • Tara Bradbury, arts reporter
    September 18, 2013 - 09:29

    Hi Mighty Mom, The ArtsSmarts program has not been cut. It's only the Visiting Artists Program that has been suspended. Tara

  • Mighty Mom
    September 18, 2013 - 05:34

    My kids loved the aatsmarts program. Sad to see it go. Not all kids are academically gifted and the Artsmarts program help them succeed in at least one aspect of school. I thought when the school system was revamped, it was suppose to be a better system. I've seen nothing but problems since day one.

    • Gloria
      September 19, 2013 - 06:33

      Media should be held accountable for misleading headlines. Shame!

    • meg
      September 19, 2013 - 06:36

      Well at least the province does not permit corporate welfare in the form of unjustified tax subsidies to oil and gas.. otherwise this would truly be an embarrasing misplacement of priorities.. Oh, wait.