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Provincial Action Plan and Stewardship Report (Ontario)

Introduction

Wise Voices for Music is a very special program that engages communities to develop local action plans to support music education.  In 2012, thanks to funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), the Coalition was able to launch Wise Voices for Music (ON) and build the program over three years to achieve significant outcomes.  The OTF project concluded December 2015.  

The project was so successful that we engaged similar community meetings across Canada.   Most significantly, Wise Voices for Music led to a new program specifically targeted for youth – Youth4Music.  This program was launched in 2014 with support from the Canadian Heritage, Youth Take Charge program.  Both programs have influenced the Coalition’s strategic planning processes.   Both programs will be continued into the future, in Ontario and across Canada.  The Youth4Music program already has significant roots in Ontario, especially through 1st Annual Youth4Music Leadership Symposium. The Coalition has applied for continued funding for the Youth4Music program in Ontario through an Ontario Trillium Foundation “Grow Grant”, as well as financial support from donors, corporate sponsorship and other foundations.

There are 5 components to the Wise Voices for Music (ON) project:  Community Engagement; Communications; Action; Leadership; Research.   As of January 2016, Coalition personnel are in the process of completing final analysis of the Ontario project outcomes, revising resources and tools and updating community engagement reports.   Information will continue to be updated on this webpage.  

Future action includes:

  • Support local community action teams with their local action plans
  • Update community webpages with new information
  • Work with members of the Provincial Advisory Group to support key priorities identified by local action teams
  • Provide Model of Community Engagement as a resource for communities to hold sequel meetings or new communities to engage in their own process
  • Support new “Music Makes Us” chapter group in North Bay
  • Hold a 2nd Youth4Music Leadership Symposium
  • Support youth-led plan for “learning, creating, making and valuing music in Canada”

Plans for ongoing action are dependent upon the capacity of the Coalition infrastructure and ongoing funding support.  

Community Engagement

Between Sept 2012 and Dec 2015, the Coalition engaged 22 community events in Ontario: 12 community roundtables and 10 youth-focussed meetings.  The first year of the project was considered a pilot year.  During the pilot, the model of community engagement, tools, and other templates were developed and finalized.

Wise Voices for Music community roundtables were multi-generational and multi-sectoral discussions intended to engage diverse voices from various sectors and backgrounds within each community.  The roundtables followed a template format, including

      • Call to Gather of live music played by local musicians
      • Exploration of the community’s Successes and Achievements
      • Solution-based Gap Analysis
      • Determining Strategic Priorities for the community’s Action Plan
      • Identifying local leaders to participate in an Action Team
      • In some cases, a Sequel Meeting was prioritized in order to engage more members of the community
  • Full Report of the roundtable’s proceedings (for participants only)
  • Highlight of Successes and Strategic Priorities (for public)

Once the local Action Teams approved their Highlight Report, a webpage was assigned for their community to include highlights of their community’s discussion, priorities and action plan.  In most cases, these plans are still locally in process, and in some cases, updates are forthcoming (* includes sequel community meeting).

  • Hamilton
  • Kitchener-Waterloo*
  • Kingston
  • London
  • North Bay*
  • Ottawa
  • Sudbury*
  • Thunder Bay
  • Windsor

Youth-focussed events were events specifically for youth (over 95%) in order to reach out for youth input without adult oversight and to engage new leaders.  As the project continued, we began to title these events “ ”, which now aligns with the new program.  

  • Ontario Education Leadership Centre (2013 and 2014)
  • Sudbury – School visit and discussion, Youth4Music event and special discussion with students during school trip to Canada’s Wonderland
  • North Bay – Youth4Music
  • Thunder Bay – Youth4Music
  • Orillia – Youth4Music
  • Guelph – youth discussion with high school and university students
  • Toronto – 1st Annual Youth4Music Leadership Symposium (province-wide)

Outcomes

  • Each Wise Voices for Music community received
  • Full Report for their use only (not for public distribution) of their event(s) that includes preliminary listing of identified successes and achievements, gap analysis and solution recommendations, strategic priorities and initial action plan
  • Highlight Report to be posted to their webpage (for public)
  • A dedicated webpage for their community Wise Voices action (some communities still in approval process before uploading)
  • Each community developed priorities for local action, engaging new local leaders, and supported by Coalition team members
  • Youth leaders were empowered to engage in local action plans and to participate in provincial (national) leadership programs
  • A Model of Community Engagement was developed as an ongoing resource
  • A new website focussed for youth, by youth was developed for the new Youth4Music program (www.youth4music.ca)
  • For most communities, photos and video clips were provided, including local musical performances
  • Articles and information pieces in Coalition e-newsletter, notices and social media

Highlights of Project Successes

Youth leadership

  • Youth4Music leaders in several communities (North Bay, Toronto, Ottawa, London, Hamilton, etc.)
  • Youth for Music North Bay chapter of Youth4Music
  • North Bay sent First Nations youth delegate to Symposium
  • Highly successful Youth4Music Leadership Symposium
  • Engaged multi-sectoral and multi-generational discussions through Wise Voices for Music roundtables in 9 separate communities
  • Engaged youth from various backgrounds, musical genres and locations in discussions through 10 events
  • Action plans and action teams in each community
  • Engaged new leadership at community levels, significantly Sudbury and North Bay (e.g. North Bay started a Music Makes Us – North Bay)
  • Coalesced groups at local levels, i.e. universities, colleges, school boards, symphony orchestras, etc.
  • Input from community and youth engagement influenced Coalition strategic plans and initiated new programming, specifically Youth4Music
  • Coalesced representatives from major organizations/related stakeholders who are involved with music and/or music education, e.g.
  • National Arts Centre, MusiCounts, The Royal Conservatory, Music Canada, People for Education
    • University Faculty – Music and Music Education departments
    • Music industry
    • Principals
    • Registered private music teachers, some representatives of Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association (ORMTA)

Most valued by participants

Feedback from participants during community events and through feedback forms provided similar key points of value for engaging in the project.

Networking

  • meeting colleagues and learning about each other
  • considering bigger picture
  • diversity of voices and musicians
  • sharing best practices

Identifying successes and achievements

  • starting meetings with a focus on local successes, grounding in pride

Solutions for gaps

  • exploring solutions and not getting stuck in the gaps

Collaboration

  • Problem-solving solutions together

Inspiration and motivation

  • Meetings fostered optimism, excitement and hope
  • Affirmation of what we do and why we do it

Live local music

  • Local musicians set the foundation for heady discussion through the heart of music matters

Common Priorities & Plans

Several priorities and plans were common amongst all the communities, including:

Communications

  • Increase awareness about benefits of music education and about what is available within our communities
  • Increase communication to parents and the general public
  • Cross promote events

Action Ideas:

  • Community calendars or a calendar through the Coalition website
  • Local communication plans with local media

Advocacy

  • Advocate for quality music education in schools and qualified music educators
  • Build awareness about the importance of learning music and the link with our vital community
  • Important to have instruments and instrument repair

Action Ideas:

  • Active links with municipal councils (e.g. Arts Councils)
  • Ongoing action through Coalition hubs or chapters

Outreach and Community Building

  • Some communities want to set up local advocacy/action hubs or chapters of the Coalition
  • Link with city cultural plans
  • Connect local musicians with schools and school boards
  • Connect youth outreach programs in professional music groups with schools and school boards

Action Ideas:

  • Create community calendar of musical events that includes professional and community groups, as well as school concerts
  • Create a community map of resources for musicians and musical groups that can be accessed easily

Celebration

  • Use special events to celebrate and promote the value of music to our community and the importance of learning music as part of the continuum towards success (e.g. Music Monday, special community holiday celebrations)

Action Ideas:

  • Engage in nation-wide celebration of power of music in our lives through Music Monday®

Venues

  • Need spaces for youth to be creative

Action Ideas:

  • Activate underused spaces
  • Improve existing performance spaces

These priorities and plans will be updated once the final analysis of the project is completed, and upon further input from local action teams.

Ingredients for Successful Music Communities

Throughout the project, the Coalition observed several key ingredients that lead to successful and vibrant music communities, including:

  • Municipal cultural plans that include a focus on music
  • Community-wide celebrations of music during Music Monday
  • Active community music (e.g. community choirs and bands)
  • Active and responsive Municipal Arts Councils
  • Arts Consultant roles in local School Boards
  • Partnerships between established music groups and schools (e.g. Symphony orchestras)
  • Known and valued musical heritage (e.g. Windsor is home to the Canadian Blues Hall of Fame)
  • A heritage of live local music (e.g. Waterloo, Hamilton)
  • Music City Strategies (e.g. Hamilton, London, Toronto)
  • Active and respected Arts venues/organizations that generally value local or national heritage (e.g. National Arts Centre, Aeolian Hall in London, The Gasworks in Hamilton)
  • High level of public awareness through nation-wide celebrations such as the JUNO awards (Hamilton), Music Monday (Ottawa)
  • Universities and colleges with music departments, including music education departments (e.g. Windsor, North Bay, Sudbury, Hamilton, London, Kingston)

These ingredients will be updated once the final analysis of the project is completed.

Gaps

Although community discussions about gaps and solutions were maintained as safe spaces for opinions without judgement by others, the Coalition learned about and observed several gaps, including:

  • Inconsistent application of music education in schools
  • School boards or schools not involving professional musicians from the community who are skilled and willing to provide services to youth
  • Cultural plans or music city plans that do not connect with local school boards, school music educators or students
  • Music priorities and plans that do not include the voice of youth or encourage youth leadership

These gaps will be updated once the final analysis of the project is completed.

Key Challenges

The project experienced some challenges over the 3 years.  For the duration of the project, many areas of the Ontario education system were undergoing labour unrest.  This often resulted in limitations for teachers to participate in events and to disseminate information.   During the first 1 ½ years of the project, the capacity of the Coalition’s team for this project was limited in order to prioritize for Music Monday celebrations at the Ontario Science Centre (May 2013) that involved a live-link to Commander Chris Hadfield in the International Space Station.  The impact of changes to Canada’s economy effected the actual financial support projected as resources for this project.  However, it is noted that there was valuable in-kind support from many groups and communities.

Research

Research for the Wise Voices for Music (ON) project was undertaken through two modalities:

  • The gathering of stories, trends, advice and recommendations from community roundtables, and
  • Surveys for Teachers, Principals and Vice-Principals, School Board Arts/Music Consultants, Students, Parents, Faculties of Education, Municipal Cultural Planners, Community-based Music Organizations, and Community-based Musicians

A Research Report was prepared by Dr. Ann Patteson, Arts and Learning Research Consultant.

Youth-Led Action Plans

At the end of the project, youth leaders participated in the 1st Annual Youth4Music Leadership Symposium.  Their goal was to develop a youth-led plan for “learning, creating, making and valuing music in Canada, with a specific focus for Ontario activities.

CMEC-Wise Voices for Music_Ontario Action Plan-REV

A Youth Action Advisory Leadership Team is in the process of reviewing recommendations from the Symposium.  Recommendations and an Action Plan will be released upon approval by the Leadership Team.