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ELAN ArtEd: Connecting through the Arts

Carylye Elementary school’s World Globe, a vision of our earth,
created with the guidance of artist Emily Read.
Photo by Christina Mallozzi.


“Art gives us the opportunity to be kind, respectful and collaborative, and gives kids the opportunity to shine!”

-Deirdre Potash

The impact of COVID-19 has been significant on arts and education, as in all areas of our lives. ELAN has been working to ensure that Artists are supported and connected during these challenging times.

March was to be our busiest, most creative month of the school year with almost 100 schools using funding that ELAN secured for ArtistsInspire (Government of Canada, Canadian Heritage), the ACE Initiative (Quebec Government’s Secretariat for Relations with English-speaking Quebecers), & Youth Mental Health Promotion (Community Health & Social Services Network, Health Canada).  Artists’ Fees across the projects will total approximately $250,000 from September to March this fiscal year, not including materials and travel expenses paid or funding schools accessed from other sources to combine with ours (i.e. Culture in the Schools, other Ministry of Education measures, and/or community organizations).

We are grateful for our funders’ support and anticipate it will allow us to keep our commitments to most of our Artists and Schools whether by re-scheduling or replacing with other learning opportunities in the months ahead.  We spoke to a few of our artists who have been actively visiting schools to ask them about their ArtistsInspire experiences during this time.

Deirdre Potash is a teaching artist who has been at Gardenview Elementary, and was set to visit Twin Oaks and Hillcrest schools in March and April. Deirdre believes that “Art gives us the opportunity to be kind, respectful and collaborative, and gives kids the opportunity to shine!”.  She is currently in isolation in her Montérégie home, due to an autoimmune issue.  She pointed out that “this is usually the busiest time of the year” and now has to deal with the fact that every single class has been cancelled until further notice.  With regard to ELAN’s response to the COVID-19 situation, Deirdre said “I’ve never felt so considered as a teaching artist as I have at this moment”

Similar thoughts were expressed by Stefan Verna, a filmmaker for ArtistsInspire, and Adele Reeves, a visual artist who works with various mediums. Stefan led students at Honoré Mercier Elementary School to film and create a concept video for the national CBC Music class challenge which placed 10th among over 1000 schools!  He applauded the fact that ArtistsInspire Grants contracts would be paid and honoured despite the cancellations. “To have such a swift response was very comforting. Not every organization I work for reacted in that way”.

Adele Reeves led ArtistsInspire experiences at three schools this year, (Mansonville, Edgewater, and Soulanges Elementary Schools), with four more scheduled, which have at this time been waylaid.  Adele enjoys the energy of the children and commented on how well received she is by both students and teachers. “Kids are so calm and relaxed when creating art”. She is also self-isolating in the Hudson area. “Support from ELAN was already in motion,” she said, “Even before this happened I was already being supported and making exciting connections.”

ArtistsInspire in Action

We would like to reflect on how the arts and Artists have engaged students during the past months through diverse ArtistsInspire experiences, to create, give meaning and to enhance our connections to each other. Searching our recent Stories & News by discipline will bring up some fabulous highlights.

Interactive performance by Sonia St-Michel for LaSalle Elementary cycle 2 students.
Photo By Laurie Jamieson.

In DANCE, Sonia St-Michel’s East Indian Dance performance and creation workshops with LaSalle Elementary Senior grade 5 students were featured in their school’s Southeast Asian Parade!

Grade 2 students sharing stories through object theater at Drummondville Elementary.
Photo by Geneviève Manseau.

In THEATRE, at Drummondville Elementary School, object theatre and puppetry artist Antonia Leney-Granger worked with grades 1 and 2 students to bring a story book to life using everyday items to create meaningful stories and performances.

In LITERARY,  Ayer’s Cliff Elementary School welcomed storyteller Patti Warnock to lead students in Creative Writing Workshops. Grade 6 students wrote original, personal pieces which they later presented to younger students.

The students of Sutton Elementary with their final collaborative installation “Please Save the World”. Photo by Principal Don Kerr.

In the VISUAL ARTS, mixed media artist Angela Marsh visited Sutton Elementary in the Eastern Townships to lead a collaborative art project using recuperated and recycled objects that resulted in a beautiful, installation with the theme “Please Save The World”.

Chris Alsop explains how to film using the green screen to St John’s students.
Photo by Nicole Julien.

For DIGITAL ARTS, Sec 3 students at Johns Elementary & High School, under the guidance of cinematographer Chris Alsop, collaborated to film a project that allowed them to develop their creativity while applying their technical skills.

To learn about all of the amazing ArtistsInspire experiences that have been facilitated in schools across the province please visit the Stories & News section of our website,  www.artistsinspire.ca .

Please keep in touch virtually by following us on Facebook & Instagram @ELANArtEd, and be inspired by our Artist Community’s diversity. We encourage you to stay connected as we support each other through these times. We will update our ArtistsInspire artists and schools on an ongoing basis.