What are the benefits and challenges of large scale, arts based community partnership projects in an elementary school?
Rhonda Lee Draper
This study explored the benefits and challenges of a large-scale, arts-based, community partnership project with an elementary school. It was called the Canada Show/Symphony Orchestra (SO) experience. This project drew across the arts, integrated multiple disciplines and involved a high quality community partnership. A case study formed the inquiry of this thesis to study the significances for all involved. Conceptually, this research was informed by my "artography" (Irwin & de Cosson, 2004),
... concomitant position as an artist, researcher, teacher. Turning to constructivist traditions and informed by Dewey's (1938) philosophy of experience, a case study provided the means to systematically document the Canada Show/SO experience. Data sources included 70 grade six student performers, three of their teachers and two administrators via questionnaires featuring nine open-ended questions during three stages: 1) at the end of the final dress rehearsal; 2) at the end of the final of six performances; 3) a month after the performances had taken place. Data was also gathered from our community partner, participants in a symphony orchestra. Their questionnaires were given at one stage only – at the end of the final of six performances. Additionally eight randomly selected students digitally recorded their experiences at all stages throughout the process. The final source of data was my own journal and digital recordings documenting throughout what was encountered as artist, researcher, teacher. The findings from this study foreground the importance of arts-based interdisciplinary projects that develop multiple competencies. The majority of participants involved in this project stated that, in spite of challenges, it benefitted them socially and emotionally, helped them to develop arts-based competencies while teaching them about their Canadian history. Many participants found this large-scale, arts-based community partnership project to be transformational to them – their ideas about themselves, about others and [...]