The Arts Express Artifesto

We have lived experience using drama, music, dance, movement, writing, drawing, painting and other creative channels as an expression of who we are and what we feel.

And we believe that children today, more than ever, need the arts as a tool to express themselves.

The need.

In 2017, children in the GTA are able to speak over 200 different languages, according to the Endangered Language Alliance Toronto. And yet, while the range of fluency in languages increases, we see children continue to struggle with pro-social communication skills as reports of bullying, ‘mean girl groups’, and childhood mental health issues continue to rise.

While the legal age limit for Snapchat is rated 13, finding a child today in Toronto who doesn’t know what Snapchat is would be a feat. The digital tool overlays characters and emotions on ‘selfies’.   Automation, digital media and screens are now a mainstream influencer in children’s learning about emotion and self-expression. And yet, while children ‘streak’ messages back and forth with cousins across the world via humorous and distorted ‘selfies’, we hear reports that they are unable to make it through recess without ‘sorting out’ typical childhood disagreements with a next door neighbour.

We believe children need spaces to explore their own feelings and ‘self’, with support to express themselves.

Our part of the solution.

A child’s ability to get along with others and express him or herself depends on knowing what they feel and being able to communicate it via one method or another. Parents and schools are undeniably committed to providing children with the richest environments for learning and development, and yet they can not do it alone.

As Arts Express, we believe that children deserve more and more spaces to tap into their own joy, fear, worries, anger and frustration while holding paint brushes, guitars and charcoal drawing tools. We want children to genuinely feel what is inside, and connect to it through an arts expression.   To reveal ones sentiment through the touch and smell of paint, rather than by selecting digitized colours on a tablet.

Arts Express is about process not product.

At Arts Express we welcome girls and boys into an experience where they will focus on the process of stretching their vocabulary, bodies and imagination to express themselves through acting, dance and creativity.

At Arts Express we do not focus on the product. While we offer insight into linear perspective when drawing, and help children see that the size of objects change depending on perspective, we focus on the ‘aha’ moments along the way. Similar to the beautiful and enchanted Tom Hanks movie “The Polar Express”, with Arts Express the magic is in the journey.

Arts Express is not therapy.

Our purpose is not therapy. We believe the arts can have a therapeutic effect, but we are not therapists and our classes are for everyone.

Our goal is for your son or daughter, your student or class, to feel joy through the arts. To experience confidence in sharing how they feel and who they are through creative channels. To leave with a new mindset of creative tools to use when working through the day to day excited, sad, frustrating and quiet times with friends and family. Inadvertently, however, we know our work enhances mental health and wellness.

Arts Express is part of the village.

At Arts Express, we know how challenging it is to offer these experiences while meeting curriculum requirements, balancing the needs of individuals versus the group, and managing the day to day parenting juggling act. Our workshops, co-curricular programs, camps and lunch-time / after-school classes offer your child a glimpse of what the arts can do for him or her.   They allow your daughter or student to hear her voice singing in harmony that she is “never fully dressed without a smile”.   And for your son to reveal what magic his hands can create with a “sorcerer’s oil-based wand”.

We are artists who have lived the experience of self-expression through creative channels.

We are honoured to be part of the village that enriches and shares this gift of self-expression with your children.

We are Arts Express.