The Canadian Network for Arts & Learning (CNAL) was born out of a shared belief that arts and learning, formally, informally and non-formally “enrich, empower and sustain the lives of individuals and communities.” (Larry O’Farrell and Tiina Kukkonen, 2017, Transformative Action and Arts Education). CNAL’s sense was that if decision makers understood the intrinsic value of the arts, then arts programs would return to the core of Canadian education and be accessible to children, youth, adults and the older age population.
Over the past decade The Canadian Network for Arts & Learning, in combination with a dedicated network of like-minded organizations and individuals across Canada, has accomplished much. We have done an admirable job of raising awareness, building a network and brand, expanding membership to include artists, artist-educators, teachers, arts organizations, researchers, universities and advocates across the nation. The Network has built a skilled staff, recruited dedicated board members, created a remarkable advisory council and engaged outstanding, celebrated Canadian champions. The Network has hosted profile building national conferences, launched relevant research studies, gathered valuable resources and made these easily accessible to the public. The Network has successfully provided a nexus where Canada’s arts and learning community connects with the ultimate goal of cultivating a more creative, innovative and prosperous Canada. Currently The Network is constructing a digital map that will represent arts and learning across Canada.
Central to the success of The Canadian Network for Arts & Learning has been its distinctive partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO as well as the UNESCO Chair in Arts and Learning, Queen's University. This distinctive partnership has recently resulted in the drafting of a position paper entitled Transformative Action on Arts Education: Re-invigorating the Seoul Agenda. The paper was formally launched and disseminated May 27, 2017 at the AGM of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. This important document and its strategies makes the case for the vital importance of arts education as a key component of human culture, education and sustainable development.
The Canadian Network for Arts & Learning has emerged as a national success story demonstrating the value of arts and learning. As arts education in all its many forms stands at a precarious crossroads, it’s clear that a united voice needs to emerge at a national and policy level, working on behalf of, and in support of, all arts and learning organizations and the individuals and communities they serve. We believe that The Canadian Network for Arts & Learning is best positioned to be that national voice and have adopted a new, inclusive strategy to ensure that all of Canada's arts and learning practitioners are represented. With this strategy, we dispense with our traditional ‘membership model’ to one where we move forward with a robust ‘network model’ around a shared collective aspiration for arts and learning across Canada.