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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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Norfolk Arts Centre has new curator

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Roberta Grosland


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The Norfolk Arts Centre in Simcoe has a new curator.

She’s Roberta Grosland, former curator of the collection at the Woodstock Art Gallery.

Grosland’s first day on the job is next Monday. She fills a position that became vacant in February when Deirdre Chisholm, former executive director of the arts centre, left Norfolk after nearly 10 years.

Norfolk’s heritage and culture division advertised for the position in August. Grosland was interested, in part, because she has family in Norfolk and is familiar with the county.

Grosland has worked in the art and heritage field for the past 35 years. Past postings include a student internship at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, home to one of the largest assortments of art by Canada’s Group of Seven.

“I’ve always been interested in the arts,” Grosland said Thursday. “My mother always took me to galleries and museums when I was little. I took a BA in art history at the University of Toronto and then did a master’s of art history.”

Grosland was attached to the art gallery in Woodstock for 10 years before accepting the position in Simcoe.

After Chisholm departed last winter, Norfolk senior staff speculated that her replacement might be asked to perform double duty as manager of the Norfolk archives at the Eva Brook Donly Museum in Simcoe.

Norfolk County assumed responsibility for the museum earlier this year after the Norfolk Historical Society asked for help following a period of financial distress.

As it happens, Grosland’s formal responsibilities will be restricted to the arts centre. However, Grosland notes that arts centre staff are part of a team that includes other heritage and culture employees at facilities across the county. She will help out in circumstances where her skills are needed.

“We all hope to work together and share skill sets,” Grosland said. “If they need arts expertise, I’ll definitely be there for them. There will be sharing amongst ourselves. Exciting, good things can come of that.”

Grosland lives in Kitchener. She and her husband haven’t decided whether to move to Norfolk. Grosland noted, however, that her daughter has been forwarding advertisements for attractive homes in the local area whenever they present themselves.

“I’ll be commuting to start,” Grosland said. “But who knows what will happen.”

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

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Hockney painting breaks auction record for living artist

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A celebrated painting by British artist David Hockney has been sold at Christie’s in New York for just over $90m (£70m) – an auction record for a work by a living artist.

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) had been forecast to fetch $80m.

It sold following a 10-minute battle between two rival bidders via telephone, after the price passed $70m.

The sale eclipsed the previous record held by US artist Jeff Koons.

His stainless steel Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for $58m in 2013.

The packed sales room in New York broke into applause when the hammer fell, with the buyer’s premium and commission taking the final price to $90.3m.

Christie’s did not name either the seller or the successful bidder.

The Hockney work was painted in 1972 and is one of the Yorkshire artist’s most recognisable works.

The composition of the two figures began as two separate photographs on the artist’s studio floor and was completed in time for an exhibition at New York’s André Emmerich Gallery in 1972.

Christie’s described it as “one of the great masterpieces of the modern era”.

Earlier this year, another of the 81-year-old’s paintings sold for $28.5m – a personal auction record for the artist.

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10 of the many trans artists you should be more than aware of any week of the year

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Queeries is a weekly column by CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt that queries LGBTQ art, culture and/or identity through a personal lens.

November is Transgender Awareness Month, with this specific week designated as Transgender Awareness Week. And frankly, in terms of support from cis folks in the Canadian queer art community, the week got off to a deeply discouraging start. Sky Gilbert — one of the founders of Toronto queer theatre company Buddies in Bad Times — decided to continue to devote space on his blog to attack trans author, filmmaker, musician and visual artist Vivek Shraya.

It's yet another reminder of the prejudices trans people face even within the LGBTQ community. I'll let these Twitter threads by Jake Pyne and Gwen Benaway articulate how remarkably problematic Gilbert's words are, and devote the rest of the space of this week's column to what we as true cisgender allies should be doing on Transgender Awareness Week, and every week for that matter: shutting up and letting trans people speak for themselves. So may I direct your attention to 10 artists who are among the wonderful trans voices we've had the privilege of featuring here at CBC Arts, including Ms. Shraya herself.

Enza Anderson (CBC Arts)

Part of CBC Arts' Queer (Self) Portraits series, Enza Anderson is a Toronto trailblazer whose column "The Hot Ticket by Enza Supermodel" ran in Metro Toronto, Canada's most widely circulated free newspaper from 2004-2010. Watch her talk openly about the barriers she's faced on this journey of both professional growth and self-discovery. She says: "If I'm going to live, I have to function daily like everyone else." Watch her Queer (Self) Portraits episode here.

Gwen Benaway. (Gwen Benaway)

Gwen Benaway is a trans Annishinabe/Mètis poet and writer who has written numerous wonderful essays and articles for CBC Arts, including this piece on the importance of finding trans joy just earlier this week. "The most dangerous part of living with transphobia is not just its potential to kill me — either from violent attack or less direct forms such as homelessness, unemployment or a lack of access to healthcare — but its ability to limit my joy," she writes in the piece. "I believe in joy as a fundamental part of what it means to be human. In our pleasures and happiness, we find freedom from the everyday oppressions of our lives." You can read more of Gwen's words here and here and here

Cassils. (Cassils)

In 2016, CBC Arts published a short documentary on Canadian performance artist, body builder and personal trainer Cassils, who underwent intense training and fight choreography to develop a graphic and disturbing show about socio-political issues. We follow them as they bring the show to The Broad Museum in Los Angeles, and you can learn more about what they're up to now here.

Chase Joynt. (David Hawe)

Filmmaker and writer Chase Joynt penned this essay for CBC Arts, reflecting on his journey to publish his first book, You Only Live Twice. "The project began as a private correspondence with my friend Mike Hoolboom, a prolific experimental filmmaker," he says. "For years, we exchanged stories about transitions: mine from female to male and Mike's from near-dead to alive. For us, the project was never a task of linear, exhaustive truth-telling but rather an aesthetic engagement with the limits and potentials of personal memory." Learn more about Joynt's work here.

Chanty Marostica. (Ryan Dillon)

In 2018, trans comedian Chanty Marostica's career has skyrocketed. They became the first trans comedian to have a solo show at Just For Laughs Toronto and won Sirius XM's Canada's Top Comic competition, all well in the midst of transitioning. All the more, this rise has happened in part because of how Marostica decided to take matters into their own hands and reinvent the LGBTQ comedy landscape in Toronto so that they and other queer and trans folks could get the opportunities they deserve. Read all about their remarkably inspiring story here.

Casey Plett. (James L/Zero Heat Photography)

Award-winning writer Casey Plett has blessed CBC Arts readers with her words a few times, including this essay about how to write a transgender character and this piece calling for more intimacy in works from marginalized writers. Both are must reads, as is this "artist's guide" to the city of Windsor, Ont. she wrote for us this past summer.  Learn about Casey and her latest book Little Fishhere

Heath V. Salazar in drag as Gay Jesus. (CBC Arts)

Dora Award-winning trans Latinx writer and performer Heath V. Salazar was fabulously the focus of an episode of the CBC Arts docuseries Canada's a Drag as their drag king alter ego Gay Jesus. "A lot of my pieces are very political," Salazar told us in that episode. "So what I really want to do with it is share with people that if this person, theoretically, lived and was able to do all this good and spread all this love, that we are each made of that same matter." That work extends well beyond Gay Jesus, including most recently performing in the "gloriously frank" Toronto staging of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Wolves. Watch their Canada's a Drag episode here.

Vivek Shraya. (Tanja-Tiziana/vivekshraya.com)

"Getting to take up space as a brown, bi, trans person feels like an amazing and wonderful gift," Vivek Shraya told us in this 2016 short documentary CBC Arts produced in honour of her being one of that year's Grand Marshals of Pride Toronto. And it was the first of many occasions we'd showcase Shraya's multi-faceted artistry, including this piece a year later in which Shraya talked about "I want to kill myself," a short film she released on her 36th birthday to shed a vital light on mental health. Learn all about the many, many ways to explore Shraya's work on her website.

Rowan Sky. (Courtesy)

Multidisciplinary artist, activist and educator Rowan Sky wrote a piece for CBC Arts last summer reflecting on how poetry about Indigenous connection to our land gave them strength through their gender transition. "Wherever I am in the world and on my gender journey, my connections to land, water and community give me strength and are a continual source of reflection," Sky writes. "I pour out these reflections in my writing." Read the whole piece here.

Syrus Marcus Ware. (Jalani Morgan/Black Lives Matter TO)

Also included in our Queer (Self) Portraits series was visual artist, activist and scholar Syrus Marcus Ware. "In addition to pulling down walls, we also have to be planting the seeds," Ware says in the video. "All of my work has been about watering the seeds." Learn all about that work by both watching that video, reading his essay on madness and Blackness and exploring his website, which details the extraordinary breath of his work across so many different platforms.

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