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April 3, 2006

The following statement was issued today by Joan Burke, Minister of Education. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

Tonight teachers from across Newfoundland and Labrador will gather in St. John�s for the inaugural Arts Work Conference. Teachers from every region of the province will connect with the many dedicated artists who bring our rich culture and heritage to life. Over the next two days, teachers will interact with artists through workshops and presentations. This in turn, will help them deliver exciting and innovative classes in art, music and theatre arts.

In addition, I am especially pleased today to inform my honourable colleagues that we will invest $25,000 to bring back the Visiting Artists Program which was the victim of funding cuts in the mid-nineties. We have heard that this program was highly valued by our teachers and students and that exposure to different artists can have a tremendous impact on our students.

In response, we will partner with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers� Association and the Arts Council to establish a new Visiting Artists Program. It will significantly increase the number of local actors, writers and visual artists who will visit our schools and work directly with students and teachers. The aim of this work is to make it possible for teachers in every school in Newfoundland and Labrador to invite artists into their classrooms. It will also complement our ArtsSmarts and Learning through the Arts programs.

The new Visiting Artists Program and the Arts Work Conference are excellent examples of the many initiatives stemming from our three year, $10 million Cultural Connections Strategy. We are making great strides in increasing cultural content in the school curriculum and fostering links between artists and students in the school environment.

I am very proud of the investments this government is making in arts and culture, from the Cultural Connections Strategy, to the recently announced investment of over $17 million for the province�s first cultural plan. We have much to celebrate during this Month of the Arts, declared yesterday by my colleague, Minister Tom Hedderson.

I would like to acknowledge the organizations that have worked tirelessly on our first Arts Work Conference: the Arts Council, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers� Association, the Eastern School District and The Rooms. I wish all teachers an exciting and informative session. We are already looking forward to future conferences to be held in different regions of the province and, of course, the launch of the new Visiting Artists Program later this month.

2006 04 05                                      2:15 p.m.

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