Statement on Cultural Literacy and Access in the Artists in Schools Program

Two key values to consider when creating respectful arts education initiatives are cultural literacy and social inclusion. These values guide our assessment process. Applicants should consider who is telling the story and who has the right to develop and share cultural expressions and knowledge from a given community.

Cultural literacy is the ability of the individuals participating in the project to reflect on: the histories, protocols, worldviews and cultural practices that are embedded within the project’s art form and its teaching. This also includes an understanding how an artist(s) is personally situated in a cultural context of an art form and the teaching of that art form.

Social inclusion should be considered when developing the project to that all groups from a given community participating in the project feel equally valued and important.

When considering cultural ownership the following questions could be used by artists and schools to guide in the development of a project:

  • What is the applicant’s relationship to the individual, community or group of people who will be represented or impacted? How was the relationship developed?
  • Has consent and support been sought from those who will be represented or impacted by the project in question?
  • Has appropriate consent, advisors, and collaborators been sought from the community? If not does anyone participating in the project hold that knowledge?
  • Does the applicant demonstrate a complex understanding of the cultural knowledge and diversity that exists within the community/communities that are represented or impacted? How has the applicant gained that understanding?
  • Could there be unintended disrespect or harm for the communities or individuals that the project draws from or aims to serve?
  • When the proposed project focuses on or includes Indigenous communities, does the applicant demonstrate knowledge and understanding of their unique historical and constitutional standing?