Hundreds of students from high-priority neighbourhoods will now have access to special full-day programs at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) this school year.
A new five-year partnership between the AGO and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) was announced Monday, Nov. 28, which includes the installation of 13 pieces of TDSB-owned art in the new Weston Family Learning Centre at the gallery.
"Studies show students who engage in the arts are often more successful in school and later in life," said Chris Spence, TDSB director of education.
He applauded the partnership for providing both students and teachers a full-day visual art experience with the curriculum and programming resources developed by AGO education staff and the TDSB's teaching and learning department.
"The big challenge for an art museum is to bring ideas and moments of learning to life," said Matthew Teitelbaum, AGO director and CEO, adding this new partnership will help spark the imagination of thousands of young learners.
Scarborough Southwest Councillor Gary Crawford also attended the launch in support of the partnership.
"As an artist myself, I wanted to thank both these organizations," said Crawford, who, as a former school trustee years ago, argued against selling some of the art owned by the TDSB locked up in a vault to help balance the budget.
Some of those paintings now on exhibit at the gallery include Tom Thomson's Autumn Scene, Emily Carr's Young Pines and AY Jackson's Gatineau River.
"Do you really want to sell them for short-term gain?" said Crawford. "It's part of Canadian heritage and we need to celebrate that."
In the first year of the program, participants from high-priority neighbourhoods include:
- Up to 250 Grade 4 classrooms from the Model Schools for Inner Cities program
- 150 grades 9 and 10 visual arts and geography classes
- 25 Grade 7 and 8 classes
- 25 Kindergarten to Grade 8 Aboriginal-focused classes
Programming for years two through five are in development.
But students from First Nations School in Riverdale and George B. Little P.S. in Scarborough got a preview of the program.
Grade 8 student James Goudie from George B. Little said it was his first time at the AGO and he would definitely come back.
"I'm a big fan of art," he said.