Summer Series: Amber Yared at the Canadian Opera Company

COC participants hard at work / Photo courtesy of the COC

COC participants hard at work / Photo courtesy of the COC

Over the next few weeks, PAONE is looking at arts education in the blissful (and sometimes chaotic!) summer months. (Summer Series: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2).

In the third chapter in this series, we chat with Amber Yared, the Children and Youth Programs Co-ordinator for the Canadian Opera Company, one of PAONE’s organization members.

PAONE: What are you up to this summer at the COC?
AY: Right now it’s camps camps camps! I coordinate the COC’s Scotiabank Summer Opera Camps, and am focused on them for the month of July. But, in between contacting parents for health and safety information, talking about programming with our artist educators, designing invites, and other Camps-related administrative duties, I’m also working on planning the other two programs I coordinate that run through fall, winter, and spring.

PAONE: Can you tell us about your summer work and how it connects to arts education?AY: I think a lot of people conceive of camp in terms of fun and as addressing a need for childcare. But many camps are learning spaces in which both educators and kids are free of the pressures of the assessment, evaluation, and curriculum objectives imposed on schools. A yoga teacher I know once told me that we can’t learn unless we’re feeling relaxed and grounded. I feel like that level of comfort and openness is something we strive for at the COC’s camps—we want the kids to be feeling good and if they’re feeling good, relaxed, and confident then it’s more likely they’ll come away with some new, deep understanding of opera—the creation process; how to collaborate; what it means to perform; technical skills in singing, composing, drama, and/or stage design. The kids who attend the COC’s camps leave having had a pretty intensive art education experience.

COC participants hard at work / Photo courtesy of the COC

COC participants hard at work / Photo courtesy of the COC

PAONE: What is special about summer programming? Why do you feel it’s important?
AY: I love summer programming. It’s one of the only times we get to engage with kids and youth for extended periods of time. We get them first thing in the morning for many days in a row instead of once a week at the end of a tiring school day. It’s a chance to get to know them in a different way and to work with them more intensively.

For the kids, summer programming means they get to leave the more generalized space of school and encounter other kids who share their interests. This is really important—especially for teenagers. And while I think that many kids don’t have nearly enough unprogrammed time in their lives, I also think that providing an alternative learning environment, outside of school, is truly valuable.

PAONE: What will you be doing when you aren’t working this summer?
AY: Mostly spending time with my husband and kid. Playing in the park, going for walks, visiting with friends and family, and trying to keep cool.

PAONE: What’s the best thing about summer in Toronto?
AY: It’s just great to be able to get outside. My family and I are taking full advantage of the splash pads in the park and are loving the summer fruits and vegetables.

Thanks Amber!

IMG_0179Amber Yared is the Children and Youth Programs Co-ordinator at the Canadian Opera Company. She has an unshakable interest in art education that has led her to teach and coordinate programming in schools, art galleries, and community art programs and organizations.

 

Summer Series: Annis Karpenko at Visual Arts Mississauga

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Visual Arts Mississauga

Over the next few weeks, PAONE is looking at arts education in the blissful (and sometimes chaotic!) summer months.

In the second chapter of this series, we chat with PAONE member, Annis Karpenko, Executive Director of Visual Arts Mississauga.

PAONE: What are you up to this summer?
AK: I love this time of year and I am so fortunate to come to this beautiful garden and art centre to work each day.

PAONE: Can you tell us about your summer work and how it connects to arts education?
AK: Summer days at Visual Arts Mississauga are filled with creative kids enjoying our popular Arts Camp! Our art instructors and volunteers work with kids ages 6-13 in six studios making magical creations in all sorts of mediums. Summer evenings find adults and teens enjoying courses and workshops in watercolour, acrylic, oil and drawing. And in the office, the VAM team is getting our fall program of visual arts courses and workshops ready to launch.

PAONE: What is special about summer programming? Why do you feel it’s important?
AK: Summer is a wonderful time for creativity. The days are longer and I think everyone feels more relaxed and ready to learn. VAM is set in a beautiful natural oasis and to have that combined with visual art making is very special. I love seeing young children leave at the end of a day with their new creations – they are smiling, their parents are smiling. It’s great.

PAONE: What will you be doing when you aren’t working this summer?
AK: I have a pile of books waiting to be read, a dozen art projects waiting for me in my studio and I will be spending some time back in my heart’s home, the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

PAONE What’s the best thing about summer where you live?
AK: A lot of people are away so I feel the city is a little less crowded and congested and there is so much to do – galleries, museums, music, theatre. It’s wonderful. The weather is pretty darn great and I love the festivals in Port Credit’s Memorial Park and I love just wandering by the lake neighbourhoods from the Beaches in the east to Bronte in the west.

Thanks Annis!

DSC_0031Annis Karpenko has an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art from Goddard College and a MEd in holistic education from OISE/University of Toronto. She began her administrative journey as a stage manager and brings with her an eclectic mix of experience gleaned from her time as General Manager for the Bishop’s University Students’ Representative Council and Executive Director of Townshippers’ Foundation in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and Coordinator for the York University Centre for Feminist Research.