ACE Initiative

Arts, Communities, Education

The ACE Concept

By supporting Artists, Community organizers, and Educators to connect and develop projects with and for members of their community, the ACE approach creates innovative opportunities for lifelong learning, developing skills and connections that contribute to personal and community vitality for everyone involved.

Arts

Artists are at the heart of this initiative.  Artists enliven our communities.  The experiences they facilitate can create rich exchanges, expand awareness and learning, and contribute to well-being individually and collectively.

Quebec’s English-speaking artists are diverse – they include professionals in craft, dance, folk, literary, media, music, storytelling, theatre and visual art disciplines.  Many Quebec artists have developed the skills in facilitation needed to engage students and adults in opportunities to learn not only about their artistic practice, but also to learn in and through the arts.

Christina Croce (teacher): 

The project “Tell Me Who You Are” was about the students exploring their past, present and future – to, finally a culminating activity that lead to an art installation in a village in St. Lambert.

Having an artist in the classroom and integrating it into my English class in particular has changed the way I teach English. The impact that it has on students is incredible in that they become more motivated. 

You have students who don’t enjoy writing, who don’t enjoy reading, who don’t want to become engaged in English language arts activities. Having an artist in the classroom, suddenly there was this light inside them that lit up because they looked forward to coming to English. Yes, they had to do the reading. Yes, they had to do the writing. But suddenly the reading and writing had meaning because it was attached to something more tangible. 

So they weren’t just writing a poem to write a poem. They were writing a poem that was related to their present selves that was then leading to this mailbox. Students would come to the door who would normally not be interested in coming to English class and be like, “Are we working on the project today?” You know, you suddenly saw this like, internal flame, this excitement. 

It was really eye opening for me as a teacher because it made me realize that if there’s no meaning behind it, if the students don’t see a purpose in why they’re doing what they’re doing, then the effort they put in it, the details that they’ll add to it will be less than when the artist is not in the classroom – and the quality and the end product is much better.

Community

By connecting and collaborating with community organizers and representatives, ACE projects provide community members with access to arts experiences through:

Creating art with community members by developing opportunities to  experience the arts with others, creating together with students and/or other community members within or outside school time; and/or

Creating art for community members to develop awareness of the arts and potentially of themes related to community and/or global needs/issues by developing art installations, performances, vernissages, etc.

Laura Teasdale (artist): 

We took a group of children from three schools to visit a group of seniors from three seniors residencies. The student was paired up with a partner and together they would work on creating their art. When you work side-by-side, it’s much more natural and easy to speak and to get to know each other – the emphasis not only on creating the art together and taking a workshop in art but also their friendship and the growth of their relationship. 

It’s incredibly important to link the past and the future and there are so many seniors who need grandchildren, in a way, and so many grandchildren who need grandparents – a need on the part of the kid and a need on the part of the senior to make connections with people outside of their own age and, in this case, it makes people feel beholden to something bigger than themselves and interested in something outside themselves. The past, the history of this person who was a woodcutter or used to be the mayor of the town… all those things spark the kids and, in the same way, the seniors are so energized by the kids and by caring about new people. 

I think it hits on a lot of things in the curriculum especially if you do work toward having the kids write biographies of themselves so that they can present them to their partners. You can also have them interview their partners. But especially the principles of citizenship and community-mindedness.

I saw a lot of generosity on the part of the children and on the part of the seniors. By far the most touching thing to watch was the relationships grow. The art was beautiful, they made some beautiful things, but more than that was to see them be able to reach out to each other.

Education

Educators make learning more engaging by bringing the curriculum to life in dynamic and meaningful ways when they bring artists into their schools and classrooms.

When artists work with students, educators have opportunities to see their students differently, noticing strengths that are highlighted as the creative process enables students to be innovative, imaginative, even courageous.  Having an artist in the classroom has been shown to increase student motivation and improve individual and class behavior, positively impacting relationships between teachers and students and amongst students.  By collaborating with artists to design and facilitate learning experiences through the arts, teachers provide students with opportunities to develop their competencies and connect with subject matter in ways that can be evaluated.

“Having an artist in the classroom, suddenly there was a light inside them that lit up because they looked forward to coming to English – their reading and writing had meaning.”

Christina Croce, Teacher, St. Lambert Elementary

Connect. Collaborate. Create. Celebrate!

Are you interested in developing an ACE project?

To develop an ACE project there are four stages that the coordinators work through with the teachers, artists, students, and community representatives or partners involved:

Connect

Project initiators reach out to people in their schools and communities to talk about how they see ACE development – who is interested in making things happen?    What could we create together?  What arts disciplines do we think our students could most benefit from experiencing?  How could integrating the arts bring education to life?  What community connections could be made?  Most important in this stage is creating momentum, building a team and supporters, and developing a vision.

Collaborate

Developing projects collaboratively requires an investment of time and energy, especially between the teacher(s), artist(s), and coordinator.  Principals support at this stage to ensure teachers have the planning time needed is crucial.  The teachers and artists develop a plan to include students in the project design process. Effort is made to establish great communication and a team approach.   The schedule, logistics, and a strategy for creative documenting  are put into place.

Create

Let the Art begin! Communication is frequent, students are contributing and taking ownership, relationships are being built, and the project evolves in a dynamic and emergent fashion.  Having done the groundwork for co-learning in the Connect & Collaborate phases, the team of artists, teachers, coordinator, students, and community members feel a sense of partnership, growing enthusiasm and investment. Focus on process is as important as the product.

Celebrate!

Showtime! Rehearsals, invitations, and finishing touches build up to a celebrational sharing of the ACE project with community members, other school members, and chosen audiences.  The ACE project co-learners are honoured and recognized for their art work and efforts.  Lessons learned are debriefed and the ACE story is documented and shared.

Please contact us if you have any specific questions regarding ACE development and process.

ACE: Stories

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ACE Artists in Education: Jimmy Baptiste

Jimmy Baptiste is an Arts Facilitator, Muralist, Illustrator, Graphic Designer and Graffiti Artist who facilitated an ELAN Quebec ACE project at Richmond High School, in Richmond, this Spring. Below are his reflections on the project, and on…
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ACE Lessons Learned: How ELAN Art Ed Artist-Residencies in Rural Communities Benefit Artists

ELAN Quebec’s ACE Initiative connects artists with schools all over Quebec. Sometimes, artists are paired with schools in regions that are located far away from their hometown. This provides intercultural exposure for both the artist and the…
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ArtistsInspire Grants (AIG) launched by ELAN, in partnership with LEARN

ELAN launches ArtistsInspire Grants (AIG), a $2.2 million investment for Quebec official-language minority schools to create arts and cultural opportunities. Visit the new AIG website at artistsinspire.ca. ELAN Quebec, in partnership with…
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ACE Lessons Learned: An Inspiring Intercultural ACE Project in the Cascapedia Bay

When actor, playwright and performance art facilitator Laura Teasdale first came to New Richmond for an ELAN ACE Initiative project, both she, and the teachers, were unsure of what the project would look like. Everyone was instead concerned…
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ACE Artists in Education: Laura Teasdale

Laura Teasdale is an actor, playwright, musician and drama teacher hailing originally from the Maritimes who has facilitated two ELAN ACE projects, one in the Eastern Townships and another in the Maria, Gesgapegiag, and Cascapedia/St. Jules…
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ACE Lessons Learned: The Impact an ACE Project had on a Student-Journalist

A key component of an ELAN ACE project is to encourage multidirectional learning. Inviting a student-journalist into a project to document its progress is a great way to empower leadership skills in younger people, and have the artist and the…
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ACE Lessons Learned: Ways to Implement Multidirectional Learning in an ACE Project

Lisan Chng, of MosaicJam International, says that for her, the community atmosphere and self-confidence that grow out of facilitating artistic practices are just as important as the creative practice of mosaic-making itself. Community-building…
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ACE Artists in Education: Jessica Houston

Jessica Houston is an multimedia artist and participatory arts facilitator. She facilitated two ELAN ACE Projects this year, the "Magical Garden Window" project at Sunnyside Elementary in Stanstead in the Fall of 2018, and the "Future Landscapes"…
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ACE Lessons Learned: The Benefits of Art for Relating and Understanding

This is the first story of a new ELAN series, "Lessons Learned". In this series, we will be highlighting insights of key stakeholders in our ELAN Artists Community Education (ACE) Initiative project on facets of the projects they are engaged…

Expanding our Impact Together

Thanks to funding from the Government of Québec, ELAN is able to offer funding and support to expand the ACE Initiative into more schools and communities in 2018-2020.

If you would like to get involved in ACE development in your community or as an artist working in communities across the province, please review our Invitation for Expressions of Interest and contact us at ace-initiative@quebec-elan.org.

Learning from Experience

In 2016, the English Language Arts Network (ELAN) received funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage to explore how ELAN could work strategically with Arts, Community and Education partners to increase cross-sector connection and collaboration long-term.

A recap of the 2016-2018 ACE Initiative learning experience with highlights of the five test projects is available here.