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.