A Canadian partnership combats the rise of intolerance through arts and learning


Ottawa, September 29, 2017 – On October 19, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO), The Canadian Network for Arts & Learning (CNAL) and the UNESCO Chair for Arts and Learning at Queen’s University will launch a position paper, aiming to improve the quality, accessibility, and implementation of arts education with the ultimate goal of promoting the acceptance of diversity across Canada and around the world.

In the face of a migration crisis affecting many parts of the world, along with a rise in xenophobia, racism, religious intolerance, and violence against minority communities, it is imperative to increase access to arts and learning, which has demonstrated a capacity to foster intercultural understanding.

“The world has never been in greater need of support for diversity,” said Larry O’Farrell, Chair of The Canadian Network for Arts & Learning. “With its capacity to empower the marginalized, to foster open communication, and to bridge cultural divisions, the practice of arts and learning holds enormous potential to enlighten learners and build community.”

In 2006, UNESCO identified arts education as a key component of human culture and development. In 2010, a UNESCO World Conference produced the Seoul Agenda - a global plan that calls on governments and communities worldwide to increase access to arts education, improve the quality of arts education, and apply arts education to solving the world’s social and cultural challenges.

While some progress has been made, CCUNESCO, CNAL, and the UNESCO Chair have partnered to launch this paper to address the gap between the aspirations of the Seoul Agenda and their current implementation, and to propose strategies for partners and other parties tasked with achieving its goals.

“It is known for a fact that arts education has a positive effect on the development of creativity and learning abilities” saidDanika Billie Littlechild, Vice-President of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. “It also enhances social adaptability and cultural awareness, both being required in today's multicultural and rapidly changing societies, especially in a time of reconciliation”.

The paper, called Transformative Action on Arts Education: Re-invigorating the Seoul Agenda, proposes an approach to developing strategies that can be adapted within diverse contexts to help national, regional and international stakeholders initiate change within their own circumstances, with the goal of improving the quality, accessibility, and implementation of arts education across Canada and worldwide.

The paper will be launched at the Canadian Network for Arts & Learning’s national conference called “Celebrating Canadian Diversity: Building Bridges through Arts & Learning” taking place from October 18 – 20 at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa.  A media event will take place at 9:00 am, Thursday, October 19.

For more information on the conference and the launch of the paper, visit eduarts.ca.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO serves as a bridge between Canadians and the vital work of UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. By promoting UNESCO values, priorities and programs in Canada and by bringing the voices of Canadian experts to the international stage, the Commission contributes to a peaceful, equitable and sustainable future that leaves no one behind.

The Canadian Network for Arts & Learning (CNAL) unites local, regional and national arts and learning communities in a network for exchange, research and collaboration, cultivating a more creative, innovative and prosperous Canada. CNAL envisions a world in which the arts and creativity are recognized as integral to the learning process, both at school and throughout life. By connecting Canada’s diverse arts and learning communities, we will shift mindsets about arts education and increase access to meaningful arts experiences for all Canadians, laying the foundation for social, economic and cultural transformation.

The UNESCO Chair in Arts and Learning promotes access to and quality of arts education through research, communication and collaboration, in alignment with the UNESCO priorities for education, culture and sustainable development. UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” The UNESCO Chair in Arts and Learning advances the principal and practices of quality education for all by promoting the arts as a means of engaging learners and achieving life-enriching personal and academic learning goals.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Jennifer Petrilli
CNAL Managing Director
Email: cnalrcaa@queensu.ca
Phone: 647-405-8668

Angèle Cyr
Senior Advisor, Public Affairs, Canadian Commission for UNESCO
Email: angele.cyr@unesco.ca
Phone: 613-566-4414, ext. 4168