A Look at Centennial’s Arts Education and Community Engagement Program
Positively impacting communities with various forms of art has never been easier thanks to our Arts Education and Community Engagement Program. This post-graduate certificate program is in its second year and has welcomed another cohort of talented students. Program Coordinator Melanie Fernandez, says the program “really gives you the skills to work in classroom and community settings on creative projects with youth, seniors, or other specialized programs for marginalized groups.” She continues, “Whether it’s with refugees, people with disabilities, or people who might have mental health issues, our students are learning how to provide them with an opportunity to express their history and give them a voice through the arts.”
Students take a variety of courses to prepare them for their community placements. Melanie explains, “The students learn about facilitation and curriculum because when you go into a classroom you need to know about how people learn and what level they learn at.” Additionally, the students are taught “different learning styles and how to facilitate sessions with different groups.”
There are also a variety of field placements that students have been involved with. Melanie says, “We currently have a student who is an illustrator working at Story Planet learning how to help different age groups work through the arts in poetry, storytelling, and illustration. We also have a student on placement at the Canadian Opera Company in their outreach program at Art Starts, working with new mothers, seniors and youth in different neighbourhoods.”
Dani, a current student, has been blown away with the program and her placement so far. She says, “I have been excited about the program from the time I saw it listed on the website. I've been learning so much about community-engaged practice and arts education; it really has been a huge eye-opener for me when it comes to the options available for work in the arts.” “From developing programs, facilitation skills, and understanding the needs of a community at an individual and developmental level we have covered so much.
As for her placement, Dani says, “I chose to learn about Pride Toronto. I've sat in on meetings, assisted in the day to day, helped prepare for larger public meetings, and corresponded with artists, curators, and team leads as the 2020 festival approaches.” Dani adds, “Community arts have existed since the beginning of time and I'm looking forward to seeing how I'll fit into the field, now that it's being more widely embraced by Western culture as a means of collaboration, exchange, and expression.“
The program is full of exciting opportunities and experiential knowledge. Melanie explains, “It’s a really great program because people who are working artists, want to be able to take their skills and work in their communities to help them become healthier, happier, and more productive. They can use their artistic skills to help people to deal with a lot of things.” She adds, “It’s a way to give practicing artists, not only the ability to work with their own art practice, but also work within a range of community settings, which broadens the scope of what they’re able to do and gives employment opportunities.”
By Alexandra Few, Communications - Professional Writing student.