Cook a Meal. Do Laundry. Experience Art.

A wonderfully thought-provoking plenary session at APASO yesterday. Just as I thought. Simon Brault is so – interesting, and smart and makes you think and want to talk to other people about what you’ve learned and are thinking about.

Discussion around arts education. The lack of it. The lack of importance of art in everyday life. Cultural omnivores. Folks for whom art just does not register.

Lack of formal arts education. In schools. Which got me thinking.

Why can’t art be taught as a life skill? The point I made yesterday at the session was that we go after the students, the schools, we bring kids in by the busload for student matinees and talkbacks. Our numbers are great – we reached 5000 students this year, and the sponsor got some serious name recognition (thank you to the sponsor for allowing this to happen. Seriously, We couldn’t afford to do this otherwise.)

Perhaps some are affected by the work they saw, past having to answer a question from the Outreach and Education Coordinator. Perhaps not.

What have we taught them about experiencing art? What have they learned?

I think in many cases they haven’t been taught about the art experience, they’ve been taught how to go on a field trip for the afternoon.

How many are coming back of their own accord? I don’t know. And it occurred to me we do not teach experiencing art as a life skill. We teach children how to tie shoelaces, cook dinner, fold the laundry (I’ve taught my fairy godchildren how to hail a cab – city girl life skill).

We teach adolescents how to fill out college applications and try out for football or debate team or just how to get themselves to the mall so we don’t have to drive them.

And adults learn all their lives, whether it’s a excel workshop for your business, or how to find a reputable plumber or why exactly your child is making that ungodly racket.

What can we teach people? How can we give them access to our work?

Have we taught them what they need to know to experience and appreciate art of their own accord? That they can do this any time, of their own accord, but it takes a bit more work to find out what’s going on? (This is where the internet access generation comes in – it’s all on the internet).

What have we taught them?

Did we explain that PWYC means pay-what-you-can and you can go to that show and pay a toonie or a twenty and see the play? And those performances usually sell out so best get there early?

Have we taught them that some shows have rush seats for as little as $10? What does “rush seat” mean anyway?

That out of respect to the other audience members and the actors you turn off your phone, take off your hat if it’s in the way and try not to talk to your companion during the show? (We won’t get into hard candy. It seems nobody can be taught not to open them during the show).

Do they know about TO TIX and HIPTIX and that a lot of museums are by donation?

Have we taught them that we really do want them there, of their own accord, outside of the Wednesday 1:30 matinee?

Much more to think about.

(Yes I bought Simon’s book. It’s awesome and he autographed it for me. In FRENCH.)

ETA: you type too fast you get some nasty typos. Apologies.

3 Responses to “Cook a Meal. Do Laundry. Experience Art.”

  1. When we did Stage3 at Passe Muraille, we had students who had not only never been to a play before, but had never been in any thwatre before. Their response was amazing, they were completely immersed in the story unfolding before them, there was reaction to everything, hissing the bad guy, fierce whispers of, oh he did NOT just say that to her!” It was ana amazing experience.

  2. I recently wrote and directed a play for Grade 8 to 10 students about Math. It was staged in a theatre in Vancouver. Before the show, I talked to the student audience, and asked them how many were in a theatre, watching a play for the first time. Several hundred hands went up. I was shocked. I told them how interaction in the theatre works, and told them to have a fun ride. They did, and were so excited by what a live theatre experience had been. All of them wanted more! It doesn’t take much to plant the seed. It takes a lot of repeated pressure and effort to make the plant grow. It SHOULD be taught in school, and Art and Culture should be as mandatory as Phys. Ed and Math.

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