ArtStarts' key areas of activity include booking school performances, an annual showcase conference for young audience presenters, artist residencies, grants to schools and districts, professional learning opportunities for artists and teachers, gallery exhibitions of young people’s art and free family programming.
From Kindergarten to Grade 12, in public and private schools throughout the province, ArtStarts supports a wide range of arts based experiences that activate learning for young people.
ArtStarts in Schools provides innovative arts programs for young people, practical resources for teachers and artists, and leadership in advocacy for arts in education.
ArtStarts envisions a society where the arts are regarded as an essential part of educating young people and a catalyst for creating innovative, engaged and contributing members of society.
Our Guiding Principles
- Mission, not just organization: We see ArtStarts as part of a larger web of activity directed towards the common cause of promoting art and creativity in young people’s lives. We work with values-aligned peers to advance our mission, not simply stimulate organizational growth.
- Creativity is innate: We separate creativity from artistic talent and skill. We believe that everyone is creative and that it must be nurtured in young people as it is an essential skill to thrive in learning and in life.
- Student agency: We have so much to learn from children—we just need to listen. We need to provide them with space and trust so that they develop confidence in the power of their own agency. Students need choice; a one-size-fits-all approach no longer works for 21st-century learners.
- Process over product: In a world that over-values product, we create space where process is key. We create and support experiences that focus on how and what we learn through the arts, not only what we make.
- Consultation and collaboration: We engage with the audiences we serve to gather feedback and input. We commit to incorporating this feedback into the design and delivery of our programs and services to the maximum extent possible. We frequently check our biases and assumptions.
- Design is key: Recognizing that the arts include aesthetic experiences, we pay attention to the design details of everything we do. From hosting a meeting to submitting a proposal to the way in which we model our space, design is key. By paying attention to design details, we create the conditions for creativity to thrive.
- Equity and access: We support students who face barriers to accessing art in education. We build capacity for artists who face barriers to the presentation of their work. We support an increasingly diverse range of marginalized artists to work in education so that young people see themselves represented in arts programming at school.
- Anti-oppression: We are committed not just to anti-oppressive outcomes, but to anti-oppressive processes. We respond to social justice movements in the education system through the arts.
- Cultural safety: We take cultural safety and cultural appropriation seriously, and work to ensure young people engage with cultural knowledge and stories in context. We explore ways to destabilize and move beyond colonial, Eurocentric ideas about “what is art” and who gets to be an artist.
Between launching gallery exhibitions, disbursing grants to schools, and booking more than 2,000 performances, offering professional development sessions for educators and artists (not to mention all the other stuff we get up to)... a lot can happen in a year! Discover some highlights in our Annual Reports.