Our festival: get set for great things

As the 2017 Arts Learning Festival takes shape, we are excited about the potential benefits it can deliver for students and the wider community.

In preparation, research was conducted into festivals around the world, looking at the impact they have had on those who have taken part.

The joint investigation involved Anne Smith, Arts Program Manager at Independent Schools Victoria (ISV), and Project Zero from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.

They examined 77 festivals both overseas and in Australia – including many in Melbourne – that showcase the work of students, teachers and schools.

Locally, the Melbourne Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Melbourne Writers Festival were among those reviewed.

Examining the different types of festivals and their impact, the researchers found many benefits at both personal and broader levels, including:

Socio-emotional. For students taking part, there was evidence of increased motivation, changes in attitudes around social and cultural issues, increased sense of identity and the creation of broader learning opportunities.

Academic. These were most evident in festivals where students participated in the arts and music. Taking part and performing can improve subject knowledge, technique and skills. Festivals can also provide different opportunities compared to usual schooling, including giving students other outlets for their interests.

Community. The benefits were many and varied. These included increased social harmony, improved cross cultural relationships and greater social inclusions – in short, community building.

Economic. The literature reviewed revealed clear economic benefits that flowed to local economies. Two studies found that the return on festivals is more than double the initial outlay.

ISV’s Anne Smith, the curator of the festival, said that the research confirmed the incredible benefits that can flow from the Arts Learning Festival.

‘Our aim is to connect across all schools as well as the wider community, and it’s exciting to think of the lasting impact that the festival will have,’ Ms Smith said.

‘Creativity is about positive growth, and positive growth is the goal of all education practice.  That’s why an arts festival is such a critical action, aligning the core purpose of both.’

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