The first dramatic moment this morning was a very small earthquake! There was a judder and then two glass water bottles on the desk in my hotel room began to shake. An alarm sounded outside. It lasted just two or three seconds and was very slight. However, I remembered I had seen some instructions in the information booklet provided in my hotel. I turned to it as a reminder: “In the event of an earthquake, please stay in your room, open the door, put your shoes on, cover your head.” As the quake was so slight and so quick, I fortunately did not have to action any of these, but I now know what to do should it occur again!
Since our first meeting was not until 12 noon today, Emma took me on a short cultural tour of parts of Santiago. Using the metro – the most crowded tube journey I have ever been on with much pushing and shoving – we popped into the Gabriela Mistral Arts Centre (GAM).
With an impressive Easter Island statue and a wonderful coloured glass entrance with hanging whale, this was an inspiring building – a multi arts centre.
We then walked to the amazing Cerro Santa Lucia – a hilly park in the centre of Santiago. With incredible view of the Andes, wonderful trees and some interesting sculptures, this was a great way to start the morning.
And so, onto the first meeting of the day with Balmaceda Arte Joven (BAJ) and the British Council. We had an engaging discussion about the roles of Artswork and The Mighty Creatives, the work of Balmaceda, and learnt about a number of initiatives in Chile being led by the British Council. We began to explore the possibilities for collaborative work. BAJ have an interesting model of the formation of Artistic Companies – young people working alongside artists and forming their own company, which then performs to other young people both in and outside of schools.
We spoke about the training needs both of young artists and of their teachers and facilitators. We also spoke about the importance of evaluation and being able to effectively measure the impact of arts interventions and programmes with young people. We have much in common I think. Nick and I are to put together some suggestions for possible future collaborative projects.
We then went onto the British Embassy and the meeting of the Education Committee of the British Chilean Chamber of Commerce. Nick and I gave a joint presentation – Cultural Education in England: Strategy and Delivery. We introduced each of our organisations and then spoke about policy structures in England, the role of DCMs and the Arts Council. We spoke about the challenges around Cultural Education and the way that Bridge organisations work. The prioritisation of knowledge and qualifications in education was common to both England and Chile; the resulting decrease in time and value of the arts in education was also common. There was interest from those present surrounding the value of building Cultural Education Partnerships and the difference these could make. We also spoke about the need for building skills in young people and the needs of employers – and the work Artswork and the Mighty Creatives do around employability.
Our final meeting of the day was with Cognita – an international organisation with networks of schools across the World. In Chile, Cognita has 10 schools. We spoke about their interest in moving toward child-centered education and a creative approach to delivering the curriculum. I spoke about the STEAM work we have been delivering with 8 school networks across the South East. Again – we explored potential net steps, and Nick and I agreed to put together an outline menu of options.
Phew – the end of an amazing day of exploration and possibility. Tomorrow – my presentation to the first day of BAJ’s 2-day International Symposium to celebrate their 25th Birthday!