Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Spring Grant 2018)

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The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is the provincial art gallery of New Brunswick, aiming to bring art and community together in a dynamic cultural environment. Through exhibitions, programming, education, and stewardship, the organization is dedicated to maintaining artistic excellence and providing enjoyment and education for all. This year, in partnership with the Fredericton Community Foundation, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery will be establishing their After-School Art Outreach Program within two new schools on the South side of the city, providing increased opportunities for young people to participate in specialized art education.

 

THE BEAVERBROOK ART GALLERY

On September 16th, 1959, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery was gifted to the people of New Brunswick by Sir Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) and officially opened to the public. That same year, the Gallery's permanent collection was established with Lord Beaverbrook's initial donation of 300 valuable British and Canadian works of art, including paintings by Reynolds, Gainsborough, and the Group of Seven. Since then, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery has grown immensely; the permanent collection now includes over 3,000 objects and the gallery now presents a large rotation of contemporary and historical exhibitions with a wide spectrum of ideas, themes, and media. The gallery space itself has expanded alongside the collection and is now composed of the Marion McCain Gallery, International Wing, Contemporary Art Gallery, Pavilion, Artist-in-Residence studio, a café, and more.

The exhibitions at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery change every 3-6 months, allowing visitors to see brand new works of art regularly. Currently, the exhibitions on display include Canadian Art from the Permanent Collection; Atlantic Canadian Art from the Permanent Collection; Tom Forrestall - Sketchbooks of a Lifetime; Studio Watch Emerging Artist - Noémie DesRoches; Peter Coffman - Camino; NBCCD Graduate Exhibition; Alexandrya Eaton - Becoming; and Sculpture, meet Painting… Painting, meet Sculpture. To see information on individual exhibits, visit http://beaverbrookartgallery.org/en/visit/exhibitions. To compliment their exhibitions, the Gallery frequently hosts a variety of lectures, curator and artist tours, publications, outreach, and programming in the community. Adda Mihailescu, Manager of Public Programs, elaborated on the Gallery's additional offerings: "The enhanced, bigger gallery, with all of its instalments of growth, also inspires new growth in the programs. We've gone from primarily in-house programming to a lot of outreach."

This summer, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is running its Artistica Summer Art Camps - an opportunity and venue for youth to create original art in a friendly, respectful environment. The camps aim to promote self-expression and creativity for children, placing them at the center of the learning process. Experienced educators serve as art instructors and camp supervisors, all of whom are able to adapt to various learning styles and needs while encouraging positive development in the arts. The Gallery, by providing all of the art materials, allows kids to learn about various forms of painting, sculpture, sketching, or printmaking, and to try out new ways of making art. A typical week at the five-day-long camps consists of gallery visits; art making; outings to watch the Calithumpians in Officer's Square; games on the Green; and sometimes, a trip to Science East.

 

OUR CONTRIBUTION

For several years, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery has offered an After School Art Program for children, combining art, reading, drama, music, and creative writing activities. The objective of this program is to improve self-awareness, confidence, and a feeling of self-worth in each child, all while building a lifetime relationship with the arts. Works of art help to build verbal and visual communication skills, serving as starting points for discussions and as an inspiration for a child's own art. “[Children] have so much to communicate and a creative confidence that seems to get worn away over time,” described Christina Thomson, Outreach Coordinator at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. “The more tools that are learned as a child in terms of creative expression through visual art, the better.”

One instructor leads the program, choosing works from the gallery’s different collections to inspire the children’s art for that week’s session. Running from September to November this fall, the after-school program is composed of 6-8 weekly art sessions that are 2 hours in length. Each student is also provided with a free family pass to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. “We really want to encourage [the kids] to have a chance to come in and see the actual artwork in the gallery and share what they’ve learned with their families,” explained Thomson.

Throughout the history of their After-School Art Outreach Programs, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery has offered subsidized programming to students from three of Fredericton’s North side schools. The subsidized admission to this program allows students without the means to access specialized art education to try out various forms of art and learn about creative expression in our community and world. This year, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery will be offering the same program to students at Montgomery Street School and Priestman Street School for the first time.

This spring, the Fredericton Community Foundation was pleased to provide the Beaverbrook Art Gallery with a grant of $3,000 in order to offset the After School Art Program admission fees for 30 students at each new school.

It was in meetings with the Fredericton Multicultural Association that Mihailescu identified the need for this programming in Fredericton’s South side schools: “We were realizing that there was a real need, in particular with newcomer families. The multicultural community has grown and the downtown schools are where a lot of these families have settled. When I checked with the principals, they were on board right away.” For these subsidized programs, teachers refer the students that they believe show the greatest need. All programs are fully accessible and developed professionally by an art educator.

Both Mihailescu and Thomson believe that these types of programs serve as crucial for the development of children’s confidence, creativity, and cultural education. Mihailescu emphasized the importance of discussing art history in schools, as well as looking into artistic styles and techniques: “Once children are exposed to this, they become more confident, more analytical, and more resourceful.” Thomson agreed, explaining that she often can see a noticeable difference in a child even after running through one program. “You see this little evolution of confidence and ability,” she explained. “It makes us feel really good about what we’ve accomplished with our programs.”

 

GET INVOLVED

Community support and collaboration are absolutely vital in being able to operate and provide programming at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. If you are interested in supporting the Gallery, whether it be financially or by volunteering your time, here are the ways that you can make an impactful contribution:

- Financial donations are crucial in supporting the Beaverbrook Art Gallery's various programs, camps, and exhibits. If you would like to make a donation or see more information on charitable donations at the Gallery, visit http://beaverbrookartgallery.org/en/support/donations/

- Purchase a membership to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery (or buy one for a friend)! Not only does a membership allow you free admission to the Gallery exhibits, invitations to all opening receptions, and a reduced rate for family and children's art workshops, it helps the Gallery to continue bringing art awareness and education to its visitors. There are numerous types of memberships that can be purchased in order to cater to specific needs - to find out what membership is best suited for you, click the following link: http://beaverbrookartgallery.org/en/support/membership/

- Become a volunteer! At the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, volunteering is able to connect people to the causes they care about, such as supporting local and regional artists, preserving art history, or enriching the lives of children, students, adults, and seniors through art education. To see the volunteer positions that the Gallery is seeking, check the following page on their website: http://beaverbrookartgallery.org/en/support/volunteer/

- If you would like to register your child in the After School Art Program for the upcoming year, contact education@beaverbrookartgallery.org for more information.

- To learn more about the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, visit their website at http://beaverbrookartgallery.org/en/

Lauren Sieben