Letter from ArtsSmarts: A Word from the Executive Director

ArtsSmarts is a learning strategy for student success in the 21st century.


In the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, a traditional model of education that is based on a transmission-and-acquisition approach and memorization of facts and procedures is not enough for success.

Students need deep conceptual understandings of complex concepts and the ability to work creatively to generate new ideas, theories, products and knowledge. It’s not just what children learn, but how they learn it, that yields the powerful combination of excellence in learning and innovation.

In the classroom, our model engages students in the creative process through artistic inquiry into topics that span many different subject areas of the curriculum. The success of our model, which can be applied to any discipline or grade level, is in a process that is self-generated by teachers and artists to meet students’ needs and priorities rather than a packaged curriculum lesson plan.  We aim to build student’s capacity to think creatively, understand deeply, experience ownership of their learning, work collaboratively, reflect authentic learning and develop 21st century learning skills. When teachers and artists collaborate in effectively implementing ArtsSmarts in classrooms, there is a significant increase in student engagement in learning.

In communities, programs are locally designed and implemented by a partnership between multi-sector stakeholders. The individual perspective of each sector and the relationship between different sectors is one of the keys to ArtsSmarts’ success. Our approach to leadership and partnership is designed to support our program model and to develop the skills, capacity and sustainability of the cultural sector.  It allows for the exchange of ideas and expertise, and spreads knowledge and innovative approaches across sectors, hierarchies and disciplines in a way that no single organization would have been able to predict or bring about in isolation. As a catalyst, and historically as an investor, ArtsSmarts has built a solid foundation of shared values and goals among its partners across Canada.  Respecting the diversity of approach unique to each partner location, and supporting a common vision for collaboration, ArtsSmarts employs a network model of distributed leadership to connect people, ideas and actions. Together these partnerships form a national learning community. We advance our learning and new knowledge on creativity, innovation and its impact on learning through practice, research, publications and learning events.<

Annalee Adair

Executive Director, ArtsSmarts