As the world begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO is spotlighting the incredible power and resilience of human creativity during the 2020 International Arts Education Week.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected 7 million learners across 23 countries according to the available data, by school closures. All 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites had to close due to sanitary protection due to the virus.
Most cultural institutions such as museums, theatres and cinemas are closed, and artists are struggling to sustain their livelihoods. More than ever, arts education is being recognized as a key part of a comprehensive education. Arts education advances learning outcomes and helps learners build new skills. In times of crisis, arts education is particularly valuable, inspiring creativity, even in confinement, providing psychological support, and building connections between people and communities.
Arts education brings together two fundamental dimensions of human development: culture and education.
Arts education also has deep, long-term benefits for learners. It helps to meet the diverse learning needs of children, paves the way for life-long learning and fosters cultural diversity, which include advanced learning outcomes and the acquisition of new skills, benefiting learners of all ages. Music, drama, dance, the visual arts and education in other artistic disciplines builds resilience, self-confidence and well-being. It stimulates curiosity, inspiration, creativity and respect for diversity. It can also support child development through quality education at a distance, using digital platforms.
Today, the skills, values and behaviours promoted by Arts Education are more essential than ever. These competencies – creativity, collaboration, and imaginative problem solving – develop resiliency, nurture appreciation of cultural diversity and freedom of expression, and cultivate innovation and critical thinking skills. As learners acquire new skills and find solace through the psychosocial support offered by Arts and expression, Arts education also has the potential to prepare learners not only to survive, but to thrive, in the post-COVID reality.
Arts Education in Trinidad and Tobago
Set in the heart of the birthplace of Carnival of the Caribbean, before the covid-19 pandemic, no one ever from Trinidad and Tobago could have imagined a year without this festival which is deeply-routed in its culture.
Every year during Carnival Season, the Old Yard, a (re)imagining and (re)presentation of carnival heritage , with the masquerade of traditional Carnival characters such as the Baby Doll, Dame Lorraine, Dragon Mas, Blue Devils, takes place and unites millions of locals and visitors.
The Old Yard is a valuable live repository of masquerade heritage and cultural traditions that has also benefitted the nation’s primary and secondary school students who are doing Social Studies, Caribbean Studies, Performing and Visual Arts.
Students assume the roles of festival managers/operators, set and venue installers, event programmers, logistics officers, and backstage managers in preparation and execution of the event. Performance of the masquerade is multi-layered and interconnected, involving student performers alongside the elders of the traditions interacting with patrons.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the carnival season 2020 has been postponed. However, the Old Yard, is raising awareness on the importance and benefits of Art Education online.