As part of its mission, BeMA involves diverse communities in cultural and educational programs in service of building a committed civil society. Therefore, and in the lead up to opening its doors, BeMA is already engaging audiences through an outreach program that includes artist publications, research initiatives, commissions, residencies and workshops, all rooted in the strong belief of the transformative power of the arts and the right of all people to access culture.
In this regard, BeMA is developing a program of artists in residence directed at the Lebanese public schools network, to provide children and youth of different social and geographical backgrounds with the opportunity to acquire new skills and widen their horizons through direct access to art and artists.
Similar initiatives have been run successfully in schools around the world, notably in the United States and across Europe.
The proposed residency program for the public school system consists of a series of immersive classroom sessions conducted by an artist over a period of 6 to 8 weeks, at a frequency of one or two times a week, to fit within the framework for arts currently scheduled in the national curriculum.
The residencies are carried out in the selected schools’ facilities. The artist works with the same group of students and their teacher for the entire duration of the residency.
The artist leads the students, with the support of their art teacher, through the creative process and the residency culminates in some kind of tangible outcome (paintings, ceramic tiles, panels, etc) that can later on be used to equip/decorate the school building or a performance or an exhibition. Residency themes can be drawn from any subject matter that the students are studying, such as the environment, civic education, shared humanity.
The artist develops and prepares the residency and submits their proposal for approval prior to the launch of the program. They work closely with the school art teacher, whose main role is to support the artist and the students during the sessions. The program presents a great learning opportunity and chance for professional growth for both teachers and artists. Benefits to the student community are wide-ranging and outlined below.
The program is closely supervised and supported by BeMA to ensure its success. The project coordinator will ensure proper and effective communication and planning between the art teacher and the artist, to ensure the residency is kept on track and culminates with the desired outcome, within the agreed timeframe.
The project’s end is marked by a public event, which the entire school (students, administration, teaching staff and parents) and BeMA, the artist and the Ministry are invited to attend.
BeMA suggests a pilot project of one residency during the Spring term of 2017, with a view to targeting a larger number of schools across the country during the academic year of 2017-2018.
The program is designed to support and extend the art curriculum, while offering an in-depth, arts-based experience. It should run over 6 to 8 weeks to be meaningful. There should be one or two sessions a week during the periods already scheduled for art in the national curriculum.
SUGGESTED TARGET AUDIENCE
The target is the Lebanese public school network with a special focus on remote areas of the country. BeMA suggests targeting primarily the CM1 or CM2 Grade for Elementary Level (4th and 5th Grades) and/or Middle Schoolers.
The program will ultimately prolong the governmental education policy by supporting the CRDP’s effort in promoting concepts like dialogue, civic education, cultural diversity and intercultural understanding. Also, the residencies will supplement the classroom experience by developing an inclusive practice around an important subject matter.
In addition to identifying and experimenting with different categories and mediums for artistic expression, it will encourage multidisciplinary learning, as well as arts integration, as it connects art processes and themes to other subject areas within the curricula. However, the purpose of the residency extends beyond artistic development and transmission of know-how to the development of soft skills broadly applicable across disciplines and to real life experience. Such skills shed a new light on art and its relation to human values and highlight the ability of the Arts to inspire better understanding of the complexities of the world.
The Ministry of Education is the main partner in this project with BeMA. Below are its suggested roles and responsibilities:
Selection of the schools in coordination with BeMA.
Initiating contact with the school’s senior management and securing their participation in the project.
Appointing a contact person at the school to act as chief interlocutor and liaison with BeMA.
Attendance at the launch and closing events.
Supporting the residencies across the public school network.