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Laura Davis: Increase access to arts education, support equal opportunity

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Increase access to arts education, support equal opportunity

Each year, the cultural and education communities come together to celebrate the power of the arts in education to transform our communities, schools, teaching and learning. The research is undeniable. When schools and communities embrace the arts — dance, music, theater, visual and media arts — students benefit, educators are more effective and learning communities are revolutionized.

Nowhere in the Pioneer Valley is this transformation more visible than at PVPA, the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School. For 23 years, PVPA has been successfully integrating arts education into our college-preparatory program. At our hilltop home in South Hadley, 400 students in grades 7-12 from over 50 cities and towns come together to learn and grow in a supportive, arts-rich community. Whether creating dances that demonstrate cell division in biology class, studying opera performance or writing songs about social justice issues in English class, students benefit from arts education every day at PVPA.

​​​​​​The same research that tells us that youth who participate in the arts are more likely to be successful in school, college and career also shows there is a racial gap, indicating that arts education is an equity issue and an issue of racial justice in America. In order to reap the benefits of arts-rich schools and arts-infused communities for all, we must focus on increasing access, particularly for students who are traditionally disenfranchised. Additionally, we must focus our efforts on broadening and diversifying the arts leadership pipeline, so that our educators, cultural program leaders and our community’s artists reflect the communities they serve. PVPA strives to continuously improve our outreach to underserved communities, while acknowledging there is more we must do.

As we celebrate National Arts in Education Week (Sept. 9-15), we should take pause to cheer for our accomplishments but also remember the work that lies ahead. How can we support parents, families, and the community in providing more opportunities for arts education? It’s up to us — the arts education community — to take a stand and take the lead — and we can start during National Arts in Education Week.

Laura Davis, Director of Arts and Academics
PVPA Charter Public School, South Hadley

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Brooks: Women for Men's Health Gala launch at Hotel Arts

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Pictured, from left, at the Women For Men's Health (WFMH) reception Sept. 11 at Hotel Arts are, from left: Dr. Marty Duffy, WFMH founder Dr. Shelley Spaner, Karen Gosbee, WFMH's new mental health ambassador, Dr. Geoff Gotto and Dr. Anthony Cook. The reception introduced guests to Gosbee and also announced details of the second annual WFMH gala — The Big Ball — Feb. 1 at Hotel Arts.


Bill Brooks / Bill Brooks

Listen up Mother Nature. I’ve got a bone to pick with you. Not only did you create the postponement of the Hull in One golf tournament, but you made organizers of the Women for Men’s Health pool party at Hotel Arts somewhat stressed. But the terrific team at Hotel Arts can turn on a dime and seamlessly moved the Sept. 11 party indoors to Raw Bar.

The Women for Men’s Health (WFMH) Group, with the support of the Prostate Cancer Center (PCC), was established in 2016. Since  inception, the group has raised more than $250,000 and has secured more than $1 million in funding for expansion of Men’s Health Initiatives at the PCC. Readers may recall the inaugural WFMH gala held this past January at Hotel Arts was an enormous success. And the plans unveiled at the pool party for the second annual event — The Big Ball taking place Feb. 1,2019 had all in attendance buzzing with anticipation.

A powerful statistic that hits at the heart of the need for Men’s Health Initiatives comes when one looks at the top 13 causes of death in Alberta. This includes all cancers, heart disease, accidental or unintentional injury, diabetes, stroke, chronic liver disease and respiratory disease.

Men lead women in every category except one. Women die more frequently than men from Alzheimer’s disease/dementia. The reason for this is that men simply do not live long enough to die from this. The inequity in gender health becomes even more staggering when one looks into men’s mental health struggles. Annually, more than 500 Albertans die of suicide. Of these, more than 400 are males between the ages of 30-69.

That is why the focus of The Big Ball will be men’s mental health. WFMH founder Dr. Shelley Spaner spoke eloquently as to the cause for support and took a great deal of pride in introducing Karen Gosbee as the ambassador for the 2019 ball. Gosbee’s husband George took his own life in November last year. Karen has since become a phenomenal advocate and community leader in mental health. Her address this night was powerful indeed and will no doubt ensure the Big Ball will be an enormous success.

Among the select group of guests in attendance were: Hotel Arts Group general manager and PCC board member Mark Wilson and his wife Kerry; philanthropist and community leader Ann McCaig; Freedom 55 Financial’s Danielle Sutton and her daughter Olivia; Brandsmith’s Shea Kerwood; YYC Cycle’s Andrew Obrecht; PCC executive director Pam Heard with colleagues Shannon De Vall, Eva Moreau and Anthony Prymack; ARC Financial’s Nancy Lever; PCC board members Maryse St-Laurent and Andrew Abbott; Kathy Hays; Patti O’Connor; bestselling author Kirstie McLellan Day; Dr. Marty Duffy; Dr. Geoff Gotto; Dr. Anthony Cook; Lana Rogers; and Kim Berjian.

Please mark your calendar for Feb. 1 and plan to attend and support The Big Ball at Hotel Arts.

With files from Dr. Shelley Spaner


From left: Herald scribe and Prostate Cancer Centre (PCC) board member Bill Brooks, PCC executive director Pam Heard, PCC board member and Women For Men’s Health founder Dr. Shelley Spaner and PCC board member and Hotel Arts Group general manager Mark Wilson.

Bill Brooks /

Bill Brooks


Freedom 55 Financial’s Danielle Sutton and her daughter Olivia Sutton.

Bill Brooks /

Bill Brooks


Dr. Shelley Spaner (left) and Women For Men’s Health mental health ambassador Karen Gosbee.

Bill Brooks /

Bill Brooks


From left: YYC Cycle’s Andrew Obrecht, Prostate Cancer Centre’s Shannon De Vall and Brandsmith’s Shea Kerwood.

Bill Brooks /

Bill Brooks


From left: Patti O’Connor, Kathy Hays and Kirstie McLellan Day.

Bill Brooks /

Bill Brooks


Ann McCaig (left) and ARC Financial’s Nancy Lever.

Bill Brooks /

Bill Brooks


From left: Dr. Anthony Cook, Anthony Prymack and Dr. Marty Duffy.

Bill Brooks /

Bill Brooks


Hotel Arts’ Fraser Abbott (left) and his brother, Prostate Cancer Centre board member Andrew Abbott.

Bill Brooks /

Bill Brooks

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Uncertain future for arts centre neighbouring damaged Fairview Arena

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The owner of Indefinite Arts Centre says increased demand for the program’s services for people with disabilities warrants an expansion but his hands are currently tied as he awaits a City of Calgary decision on what will become of the attached arena.

On February 20, the roof atop the arena at the Fairview Arena and Community Hall collapsed after the building in the 8,000 block of Fairmount Drive Southeast, was deemed unsafe and closed to the public. The structural damage to the part of the building that housed Indefinite Arts Centre was minor but the studio was forced to vacate the premises.  

The art program was displaced for nearly five months, operating temporarily out of the Shane Homes YMCA, before it was permitted to return to Fairview in July.

The building has been without heat after the gas lines were severed and the artists have resorted to wearing jackets indoors in an attempt to stay warm.

CTV Calgary was notified of the heat concerns and, after the story aired, Indefinite Arts Centre’s owner, Jung-Suk Ryu, says he received a call from a senior official in Mayor Nenshi’s office stating she wasn’t pleased that Ryu had discussed the issue with the media.

“My responsibility as the CEO of this organization is to be a strong advocate for our needs first,” Ryu told CTV on Friday. “The fact that it may not have been taken so well is very upsetting.”

In a statement, Nenshi’s office stated their concerns. “We continue to be committed to helping any organization that does important work in Calgary to the extent that we can but it is always easier if we hear it directly first instead of through other channels.”

Ryu says he has been supported in his effort to have the issue addressed. “The general consensus of our team members was I did the right thing when we went to the media to talk about the issues facing this building. We talked about some of the frustrations

Contactors from Indefinite Arts Centre’s insurance company have since restored heat to the studio.

Ryu hopes the City of Calgary will come to a decision on the fate of the property in the near future. “We’re in an eyesore of a building. This affects the community, not only the community that we serve but the broader community of Fairview.”

A stakeholders meeting was held Thursday night to discuss potential options for the building but the arts centre will not permitted to expand or renovate until a decision on the property is finalized.

With files from CTV’s Jaclyn Brown

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Puerto Rican Arts Alliance celebrates 20 years

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The Puerto Rican Arts Alliance is celebrating a milestone this year: 20 years of arts education in the Latino community.
Their programs in art and music give kids a chance to learn about their culture hands on.
After school rehearsal at the Latin Music Project are in full swing as students prepare to record their own CD — an opportunity of a lifetime thanks to the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance.

SOT: Carlos Hernandez – Founder & Executive Director Puerto Rican Arts Alliance

“There are youth, there are children in our community that are yearning for music classes, they’re yearning for arts,” said Carlos Hernandez, founder and executive director of the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance. “Arts and music is what resonates in this organization. I’ve seen so many students over the years come through our doors and leave our doors and go into higher education and become professionals.”

The Latin Music Project is one of several programs within PRAA that allows kids ages 4 to 18 to learn the music, history and instruments of Latin culture.
“Music from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Brazil and any part of South America. We get kids involved in their own culture by teaching the background of the music, the people who write the music,” said José Carrasquillo, music manager for the Latin Music Project.

In the Studio Arts Program, kids age 14-18 now have their work on display at the Chicago Cultural Center. The installation currently on display was done by students over the summer and showcase six paintings significant to Puerto Rican art history and shows a timeline of natural disasters in Puerto Rico over the years.

“The thing that I really believe in is that we need to fill that void. We’re providing an arts program that provides skills in the arts and design but also provides some heritage, culture and heritage,” said Jorge Felix, the studio arts and exhibition program director.

As the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance grows, they hope to expand these programs while continuing to educate others about Latino culture.

SOT: Carlos Hernandez – Founder & Executive Director Puerto Rican Arts Alliance
“We are growing in a city that is very diverse and equity and inclusivity in the arts is important for the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance,” Hernandez said. “We’re opening up our centers for other cultures to come in. Those are the kind of things that we see ourselves growing in the next 20 years I think it’s going to be fascinating.”

Visit the PRAA’s website for more information.

(Copyright ©2018 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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