Hold Up The Sky is an interdisciplinary arts education project that ran from 2010 to 2015 at Rose Avenue Public School in Toronto’s St. James Town. Developed to embrace student focused school-wide participation in all arts disciplines, the idea began from a simple understanding that we all share local and global accountability for the health and well being of all…thus we all hold up the sky.
We learn to do this through universal understandings and values, often shared through stories. Stories inspire our art… everything from world folktales to simple proverbs and universal adages. It’s the images gained from listening to these stories that allow us to create beautiful pieces of work.
Sharing diverse stories enriches our lives,
makes us more creative,
and builds a stronger community.
Wherever I stand I hold up the sky.
Since the inception of Hold Up The Sky, students at Rose Avenue Public School have participated in music composition and performance with Orff and exotic instruments, dance including Bollywood core and expressive improvisation with batik costume pieces, visual art including the building of a school wide narrative mural and our own Sistine Chapel, story inspired shadow puppetry and film, live action film, literary arts including playwriting, and sculpture including the building of an outdoor mosaic water feature surrounded by clay tiles and hand painted flags.
We have also had a memorable experience creating a choir to perform with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds when they stopped in at Massey Hall as part of their World Tour in 2013.
Hold Up The Sky involves many collaborators including staff and students from Rose Avenue Public School, arts education charities Inner City Angels and Mariposa In The Schools, York University Faculty of Education, George Brown College and our generous sponsor, Manulife Financial. Dozens of artists, arts organizations, teachers, students and student interns have participated over the years.
Inner City Angels and Mariposa In The Schools are also generously funded by the Ontario Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Foundation and the Toronto Arts Council. Without the generosity of our funders this project could not have taken place and had such a positive impact on our community in St. James Town.
Enjoy the photo gallery and descriptions of some of these remarkable projects!
TELLING BEES, DANCING BEES AND BEAUTIFUL SCULPTED BEES
In a unique STEAM project incorporating dance, storytelling, song and sculpture, artists bring new awareness of bees (and especially honeybees) to Rose Avenue PS primary students.
There are thousands of species of bees and among them we have queens, drones and worker bees. They are truly one of the most beautiful and collaborative types of insects on our planet.
But perhaps the biggest foreboding danger of all facing humans is the loss of the global honeybee population. The consequence of a dying bee population impacts humanity at the highest levels on our food chain, posing an enormously grave threat to our survival.
Why are honey bees important?
Since no other single animal species plays a more significant role in producing the fruits and vegetables that we humans commonly take for granted yet require near daily to stay alive.
Honey bees pollinate over 30% of our natural food. Imagine losing 30% of our natural food because we have lost this precious resource.
What is happening to the bees?
It’s called Colony Collapse Disorder.
A 2013 US government study blames a combination of factors for the mysterious and dramatic loss of honey bees, including increased use of pesticides especially in the US, shrinking habitats, multiple viruses, poor nutrition and genetics, and even cell phone towers. The biggest cause is the parasite called the Varroa destructor, a type of mite found to be highly resistant to the insecticides that US beekeepers have used in attempts to control the mites from inside the beehives. Varroa was first discovered in 1987.
To view the report, which represents the consensus of the scientific community studying honey bees, please visit: http://www.usda.gov/documents/ReportHoneyBeeHealth.pdf
What can we do?
One solution toward increasing the bee population is creating awareness! We choose to do that through the arts, learning about this global issue through stories, songs, sculpture and dance. Plant diversity in schools and municipal gardens can enhance both bee habitats and bee health. With increasing interest and awareness in the profound importance of nurturing a much larger bee population globally, the progress dividends for both humanity and the planet will prove immeasurable. We can learn to eat healthily, incorporating organic food where possible, thus reducing demand for pesticides. And…we can even become amateur beekeepers. Toronto offers startup assistance to a growing number of hobbyists of all ages interested in beekeeping. Check out Toronto Bees at http://torontobees.ca/.
See our video featuring storyteller Erika Jaeger, singer/songwriter Kathy Reid-Naiman and sculptors and painters Charmaine Lurch and Mahshid Fadaei. Also see Sarina Condello in her work with students expressing the collaborative nature of bees in dance.
BEES is a Hold Up The Sky project at Rose Avenue PS with arts partners Inner City Angels and Mariposa In The Schools and sponsored by Manulife Financial. Rose Avenue PS is a TDSB eco-platinum school. That means we incorporate a greening initiative in all that is taught, how we run our school and how we design and use our schools grounds. Our central focus is supporting students and staff in caring for and protecting the environment where they spend so many hours every week. The school examines the decisions we make in our schools, inside and out—from modifying practices in our facility to designing the grounds as a place for healthy, enriched learning.