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Question 17: In your opinion, how could society provide better support for the dissemination and the development of visual arts?
I believe that society has a very important role to play in the development of the arts. Sad to say, in New Brunswick especially – in other provinces too but mainly in New Brunswick – there’s very poor training and awareness of arts. I think gaining awareness and training in the arts should happen at a young age. We’re talking about school, about education in elementary school. Looking at schools and what they are doing in the area of arts, our society is missing the boat, is missing out on very important stuff. I was recently listening to the radio and they were saying that students in New Brunswick are weak in mathematics. Maybe they are weak in mathematics but they’re a hundred times weaker in the area of artistic development, in their awareness of the world of art or the art community. I think that is very important. I think it would make a difference for young people who have learning difficulties. For example, I had learning difficulties in French: my spelling was awful, extremely bad, but then I was lucky enough to have a teacher who made us draw in French class, who would allow us to do crafts, who wanted artistic things. We would write a poem but we also had to illustrate it. And you know what, I think that is what helped me learn French and to like it to this day, to like expressing myself in French. So how did it get through? In my opinion, it was through the arts. Today our society can afford the luxury… I wouldn’t even call it luxury, there is a need to develop the arts at a very young age and all through high school. What we have seen in school systems, are cutbacks in arts education. You can only take music or visual arts, both is too much. But do we ever say: Take either math or another science? No, because I think sciences are placed in the forefront, but when it comes to arts education, it’s less important, even the output gets no consideration. Whereas I think a full-fledged society, a happy society, a society that is developing fully, will put arts education at the fore, give it the place it deserves. Then once we’ve trained people… we don’t necessarily want to train artists, but we want to educate a society so that it knows how to appreciate the arts, and once we’ve done that, then we must find a way of providing for professional artists. That’s another area where there are also shortcomings in our community. In other countries it’s better organized; in some provinces… if we look at Quebec, arts education in Quebec at the elementary and secondary level. I believe the job they’re doing has room for improvement, but it’s a lot more advanced then anything we’re doing here.