The Arts Bring
“Gifts” is an activity for artists to reflect on and articulate some of the qualities and attributes of their particular art form practice in relation to young people’s needs and interests. When artists are able to do this it helps them to communicate the value of their art form to professionals from a non-arts background.
This activity was devised by Rosalie Hastwell for the Artist Training Program.
- One gift box for each art-form group
1. Artists are divided into art form groups (e.g. circus, dance, visual arts, music, drama etc).
2. Each group receives a gift box, paper and textas.
3. Each group is asked to brainstorm for around 10 minutes the particular qualities and attributes that their art form is able to offer to a given age/developmental group of students, e.g. adolescents.
4. Each group agrees on the most important of these qualities/attributes and attempts to summarise these (the suggested number of gifts is three). They write these onto pieces of paper that are then placed in the group’s gift box.
An example of the gifts that might be identified by the art form groups might look something like this (taken from a training day held in Melbourne for regional and metropolitan artists in 2009):
Gift 1: Drama builds self-confidence and the ability to cope with a greater number of situations, for example through improvised games.
Gift 2: Drama provides schools (teachers) with an easy and accessible vehicle for exploration of a broad range of issues and enables connections to be made between issues.
Gift 3: Drama gives an opportunity to experience empathy with other people, to “walk in another’s shoes” – to understand their life and situation through drama.
Gift 1: Dance is universal.
Gift 2: Dance allows creative expression through the body – dance gets you out of your mind and into your body.
Gift 3: Dance provides a way of connecting to self and others through the body.
Gift 1: Music creates harmony.
Gift 2: Music is accessible and invites connection with an audience.
Gift 3: Music offers a direct connection with emotions – a universal language.
Gift 1: Circus offers a space where there are no right or wrong answers – just superhero powers!
Gift 2: Circus encourages calculated risk-taking with no limits.
Gift 3: Circus is outside of, but supportive of, academic structure.
(The Visual Arts group had difficulty in agreeing on just three gifts and came up with eight instead!)
Gift 1: Visual art makes stories and ideas visible.
Gift 2: Visual art is a tactile expression.
Gift 3: Visual art is the keeper of symbols: ancient, contemporary or universal.
Gift 4: Visual art brings problem-solving, thinking outside the square, self-reflection and individual expression.
Gift 5: Visual art allows communication of feelings, thoughts and emotions when words are not there.
Gift 6: Visual art can be a form of relaxation.
Gift 7: Visual art offers insight – being able to interpret the everyday and manifestation from thought to reality.
Gift 8: Visual art has the ability to view the world in pieces but then come together as a whole.