by Stacy Dunn
The third annual Dotgain Creativity Conference hosted by Holland College’s Graphic Design program added partners Thinking Big, KKP and Creative PEI.
The conference is usually a a gathering of graphic design students and professionals and visual artists. But this year, it expanded to include creative workers from the fields of theatre, film, music, dance and writing.
About 200 people attended lectures and learning sessions. A highlight of the day was a debate moderated by comedian Patrick Ledwell which asked, “Is Arts Education Really Necessary?”
Art develops essential skills
Patrick says a Strategic National Arts Alumni Project study found the most valuable skills students acquire through an arts education are critical thinking and problem solving.
“New research from the New England Journal of Medicine shows that looking at art can help medical students hone their observation skills, maintain objectivity, and deal with uncertainty.”
Melody Dover is a graphic designer, children’s book illustrator, and founder of Fresh Media. She is also the chief strategist for the annual PEI Burger Love campaign, which has generated over $13.8 million in sales since its inception in 2011.
She spoke about how an arts education plays into other careers. “An arts education should develop your creative muscle for your future profession, whatever that might be.
“An artistic education helps form a holistic thought process; otherwise, you learn to see things just one way,” Melody says. “Cultivating creative talents early in life and throughout one’s education helps develop critical thinking and helps one adapt to quick thought processes.”
She says Creative 101 classes should start in kindergarten, and quoted author Daniel Pink’s 2006 book, A Whole New Mind. “His theory is that right-brain creative thinkers will be valuable in the future. He said this before the social media influence era. Let’s hope this prophecy still holds.”
Career pathways in the arts
Sam MacDonald, actor, comedian, writer, professional wrestling manager, event organizer and PEI ambassador for the Canadian Association of Standup Comedians, was recently accepted into the Vancouver Film School’s acting program. He says a formal education is a good way to start a career in the arts.
“You may not know what your talent is just yet, and a formal education can help you figure it out,” he said. “I went to film school in Toronto in my 20s thinking I would like to be a director. When I got there, I found I wanted to be in front of the camera.”
Sam noted an informal arts education helps with interpersonal relationships behind the scenes and on stage. “I took comedy training at The Second City that surprisingly taught me how to deal with things being thrown at me on stage.”
He says formal and informal education in the arts is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “You can’t have one without the other, and it nourishes you.”
By the numbers
- Over 2,000 cultural workers live on PEI; 460 are employed full-time. (Statistics Canada 2006 census)
- Islanders spend over $100 million annually on cultural goods (excluding movies) locally. (2008 Department of Canadian Heritage/ Canada Council for the Arts report)
- Islanders spend $4.7 million attending live performing arts and $2.8 million on live sporting events (2008 Department of Canadian Heritage/Canada Council for the Arts report)
- 70 percent of PEI’s cultural workforce is self-employed. (2008 Culture PEI Study)
- 61 percent of Islanders make or perform art each year. (Canadians’ Arts, Culture, and Heritage Participation in 2016 study)
- 70 per cent of arts graduates end up working primarily in the arts with the top occupation being arts educator. (Strategic National Arts Alumni Project)
For more about Creative PEI, call 902-367-3844 or visit www.creativepei.ca