Some 400,000 Canadians over the age of 25 have completed post-secondary studies in visual and performing arts programs, according to Statistics Canada. This is a staggering number, but not an entirely surprising one—other Stats Canada findings show that artists, as a group, routinely exhibit a higher level of educational achievement than the national labour force.
Yet the art schools of today are almost unrecognizable from their earliest iterations, which opened in Canada beginning in the late 1800s. As artistic practices shift, increasingly integrating technology and interdisciplinary approaches, it makes sense that art schools reflect, or anticipate, these changes as well. At some schools, more traditional studio-based programs are reinvigorating their approaches. At others, newly developed programs that are deeply future-facing take the visual and creative components of art school but apply them in different ways. Here are 10 of the unique programs and pedagogies across the country that are creating the artists of tomorrow.
Central to Emily Carr University’s Social Practice and Community Engagement minor are socially engaged art and cultural practices which encourage participation, challenge power and speak across disciplines, informed by a deep understanding of relational aesthetics. By connecting students to a variety of community settings, this unique cluster of transdisciplinary studio courses and seminars returns robust citizenship to the core of higher education.
The University of Calgary’s computational media design program is deeply interdisciplinary, allowing students to research “at the intersection of art, music, dance, drama, design and computer science.” The program, which offers either an Master of Science (MSc) or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree, “is a research-based program housed in the faculty of science rather than arts, and each of our students has two supervisors: one in computer science, and one in another CMD area, such as art,” explains John Aycock, director of the CMD program. “That gives our students mentoring from experts in multiple disciplines and gives them a structure in which they can perform interdisciplinary work.”
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