Scheme to brush up local art education

PRIMARY and secondary school students may soon discover art is more than dabbling paint on paper when local artists start visiting schools to help teachers and students with creative art projects.

The visits are part of the Artist-in-Education scheme, the first of its kind for Hong Kong, organised by the British Council.

The scheme to be launched in December, was in response to a Recreation and Culture Branch's arts policy review report last March, which recommended promotion of 'the value of arts education among principals, teachers and students''.

The British Council, together with a group of local art-lovers, collectors, educators and administrators, formed the Visual Arts Group to launch two projects - the Artist-in-Education and Artist-in-Residence schemes.

Under the residence scheme, which kicked off earlier this year, top artists from Britain and China have been invited to work with local artists through workshops, lectures and exhibitions.

The education scheme focuses on schools. Young artists will be invited to conduct lectures and workshops for art teachers, which will be followed by visits to schools.

Although still in its preparatory stage, the scheme has received about $1 million from the Provisional Arts Council, which is to set up a government post to do the ground work.

How the project develops further would depend greatly on the response from schools and local artists, according to Ms Helen Glover, corporate relations manager of the British Council.

But the project is not just about art techniques.

''We need artists who are communicators, who can help students to express themselves. Artistic skills are secondary,'' Ms Glover said.

Art teachers who were invited by the Education Department to a lecture and some workshops by Ms Louise Soloway, a British artist-in-residence in Hong Kong, have welcomed the scheme.

Teacher Lau Siu-bing of the Christian Alliance SC Chan Memorial College said: ''It's very encouraging to find a body willing to initiate such a plan.

''We tried but failed to organise art camps with teachers from other schools in the past because of the shortage of funds and time.

''The scheme will expose students to different artists and a variety of skills which individual art teachers may not have specialised in.'' She, however, said careful consideration was required on whether projects were to be initiated in normal lessons or they were to become part of extra-curricular activities.