As a young Executive Director in a competitive charitable sector, I often find myself turning to publications like the Harvard Business Review and Fast Company in an effort to better understand leadership in a challenging fiscal climate. Time and time again, I come across articles demonstrating that across all sectors, creativity is the most sought after quality in an individual.

My Bachelor of Education taught me that the building blocks for creativity are most easily put in place throughout childhood; the older we get, the less plasticity our brains have to create the synapses needed to execute creativity. This may be a simplistic explanation, but the bottom line is that as a society, we value creativity and are well aware that it’s developed during childhood. Despite this widely shared knowledge, when budgets are reviewed for community and school programs, arts programming is the first to go.

“Often the arts are seen as an adjunct to the core curricular program, a nice thing to do but expendable in tough fiscal times, and difficult to integrate into core curriculum without sacrificing standardized test results.  However, particularly for low-income schools and schools with too many students dropping out, arts education is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Ignoring this problem will exacerbate the divide between schools with low and high rates of dropout—schools that succeed and those that fail.” 

Brown, 2017

This study comes up frequently at VIBE Arts. Each day, our work shows us the value of the arts. We have come to realize that the arts are more than just a “fun activity” or “hobby”- they are an essential piece of a well-rounded education; giving children and youth the opportunity to be challenged, think critically, problem-solve, and think outside of the box. In our rapidly changing world, these skills are essential to solving the problems of the next generation. 

At VIBE, ‘arts’ is more than just a part of our name. The arts provide us with a vehicle to hire young people who gain valuable experience in facilitation and leadership; the arts provide us with a platform to share the under-represented narratives of Ontario’s indigenous youth; gives us the opportunity to spark creativity in students and in schools where arts programming has been deemed a luxury and removed. Ultimately, the arts establish Ontario’s next generation of creative thinkers – the people who will go on to solve our environmental problems, find solutions in times of crisis and create new and exciting products that change the world we live in. These people will all be creative thinkers. 

It starts in childhood and it starts with the arts.  

VIBE Arts powers Creative Classrooms across Ontario each year. Our programs range in discipline from visual arts, dance, music, and poetry to digital music production. Each program curriculum is co-designed by VIBE’s team of skilled artists, mentors and arts educators. When building programs, we consult and make lasting relationships with the teaching staff at each school to ensure that activations are culturally appropriate and well-received by students. When the VIBE program ends, our teaching doesn’t stop. Partners benefit from ‘leave-behinds’ of high-quality art supplies and knowledge, to better equip the class and teacher with the tools and experience needed to pass on meaningful teachings on their own.  

At VIBE, we understand the devastating effects of budget cuts. We see foundations and institutions shifting their focus from the arts onto employment, digital strategies and education. This back to school season, VIBE is working to ensure that our arts education programming increases its capacity to reach schools that have pulled back their arts programs due to budget cuts. Help us continue our work by making a donation today. If you’re interested in a lasting impact, become a monthly donor through our Arts Advocates Program. Your contribution, whatever the size, will go directly into school-based programming with a focus on sparking creativity in Ontario’s young people. If you’re on the fence, don’t be. It truly is a worthwhile investment in our future – the future of creative thinkers.

Katie Hutchinson, ED