Engaging Youth and Adults in Artistic Learning Dialogues

On March 13th, 2013 MODAL Research hosted a special Artistic Learning Dialogues at the Diamond Alumni Centre at Simon Fraser University. This event brought together senior secondary school students with representatives from over 10 arts organizations to engage in dialogues about how to best foster Artistic Learning in diverse contexts. There was an amazing energy at the event, as the youth-adult dialogues focused on what constrains and supports artistic learning, and ideas about how to best assist artistic learning among youth. Both the youth and the adults had been involved in a separate, similar series of dialogues. The students used insights they gained from their dialogues to demonstrate what artistic learning “looks like” in practice across six arts areas (dance, drama, music, writing, photography, visual arts). These demonstrations inspired many valuable ideas and new perspectives emerged through the youth-adult dialogues.

Some of the positive feedback we received about the series of dialogues included:


“The ability to hear such a diverse array of perspectives”
“Really appreciated the sharing of the students and active learning experiences/expression”
“Hearing the concerns of other arts educators and seeing issues from different sides”
“Creating understanding and awareness of the importance of artistic learning”
“Bringing people from different arts organizations together to freely converse and share their experiences”
“Environment of openness allowed for free-flowing conversation and new, interesting thoughts to emerge and develop”


Participants in the Artistic Learning Dialogues included senior students from the Langley Fine Arts School (LFAS) and representatives from arts organizations, including: Arts Umbrella, O-Vision Consulting, Saint James Music Academy, Sarah McLachlan School of Music, Vancouver Biennale, Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI) and The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, as well as faculty from SFU Faculty of Education. Thanks to all for your participation and to the host organizations for their support for the series: ArtStarts, Vancouver Biennale, Arts Umbrella, Sarah McLachlan School of Music and Vancouver International Song Institute.

Thanks go to our researchers, Deanna Peluso, Jim Sparks, and Sandy Gillis for their dedicated work on the project and their excellent facilitation of the dialogues. Thank you also to Navida Nuraney and Lynn Oucharek for their work on the initial planning committee and to Rena Sharon for her valuable suggestions for membership.

Artistic Learning Dialogues is part of the research led by Dr. Susan O’Neill, Associate Professor (Faculty of Education) and MODAL Research Group. The dialogues that took place at SFU involved participants who have been a part of a research project that has been exploring how to best foster Artistic Learning in diverse contexts. The aim of this research project is to engage in dialogues about artistic learning with artists, arts educators, community/provincial arts organizations, youth and families, school district administrators, policy-makers, industry leaders (including digital media) and facilitate the exchange of knowledge across different perspectives and contexts. The dialogues are part of a larger research agenda to develop an evidence-based theoretical framework for understanding the cultural ecologies and learning trajectories of diverse Canadian youth’s artistic learning and arts engagement in today’s digital age. The dialogues will contribute to the first phase of the research that includes producing a collaborative report “Mapping Artistic Learning in Diverse Contexts” and a series of video illustrations of artistic learning in action.

For further information about this project or future dialogues, you can go to the Artistic Learning Dialogues page or contact MODAL Research Project Manager, Deanna Peluso .

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