Purpose and Description
The purpose of the discussion series was to gain a better understanding of participants’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of physical distancing on their work in arts and learning. With new rules in place as an attempt to stop the rise in cases of COVID-19, artists and arts educators have turned to either working from home or finding digital platforms to continue the work. Otherwise they have had to close their spaces temporarily. The first discussion series, which took place between March 23- April 3, 2020, focused on understanding the initial impact of the pandemic on artists and educators and how they used the arts to support members of their community. After months of physical distancing, and with measures being taken to reopen society, the aim of the second discussion series was to hear how artists and educators have been sustaining their work through digital and online platforms and discussing what the “new normal” could look like for the arts in the future. 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 believes that if decision makers understand the intrinsic value of the arts, then arts programs will return to the core of Canadian education and be accessible to children, youth, adults and the older age population. The national digital roundtable discussion series was made possible by the Canada Council for the Arts.