Jacinta Smart | Arts LA Leader/Educator/Aboriginal Education Focus Person

Recently an article on the ABC’s The Conversation website about the intrinsic value of the Arts caught my attention. An excerpt is below:

Arts and culture make important and varied contributions to the national economy and social cohesion. But the reason they do so is because of their intrinsic value. This arises in two forms.

Firstly, our culture is a steady source of thoughts, feelings, stories, images and moments which coalesce and collectively define us – what the philosopher John Searle called “the background”. Culture brings us pleasure, connection, meaning and joy, and in the current situation that’s a significant contribution to our narrowing lives.

Secondly, and even more crucially, it is where we may find our best selves. To act in a creative way is to act generously. This is not to say that artists are better than anyone else, or that creativity is the sole preserve of the arts. It is to observe that to be creative is to give to others through a selfless impulse to share, and not just a desire to monetise that relationship as an economic transaction.


It has been a challenging year all round and the Cornerstone College Arts Department have felt the effect of COVID-19 in a range of ways. This year our students and staff have had to forego or re-define many critical learning opportunities, with none of our regular guest arts professionals visiting the College, no excursions to venues, performances and exhibitions, and no conferences or workshops taking place. 

Staff have needed to be innovative in meeting adjusted curriculum requirements in our courses in other ways. Online professional learning and support have been crucial to this change. Atelier space has certainly felt a bit empty without the excitement and energy of guest artists, parents/caregivers family and friends filling our halls. 

Arts events rely on emotional and physical engagement from the audience, and with COVID considerations restricting this movement, we felt the integrity of the experience was compromised. 

With this in mind, it was with great disappointment that we had to cancel so many Arts events this year. Fortunately, we were able to stage the Year 12 Drama Production and the Year 12 Music Assessment Performances with limited audience numbers. The joy which arises from this engagement between performers and their audience was evident in the excitement around the Atelier Theatre. 

Unfortunately, we will not be having a formal opening evening for the Year 12 Art/Design exhibition this year, but friends and family will be able to book time slots for personal viewing of the exhibition. More information is to come. 

An integral part of the Australian Curriculum course descriptions are the following references to the interconnectedness between artist and audience: Students exhibit their artworks individually or collaboratively, present their series to an audience, modify production elements to suit different audiences, evaluate performers’ success in expressing the composers’ intentions and expressive skills in music they listen to and perform. Clearly the public audience plays a big role in bringing the Arts to life, and and we look forward to a dynamic 2021 in Atelier.

I would like to finish with an acknowledgement to all our dedicated Arts staff who have gone above and beyond in finding innovative solutions this year. They are passionate and committed to students learning and achievement. In particular the Music staff: Sophie Zerner, Jess Seyfang, Anthony Janus and Andrew Day have been proactive in making sure the performance aspect of their course could be accessible to the wider community via online recordings. 

In the recent weeks staff have been working to deliver a virtual Cabaret experience to showcase the Middle School and Senior School Music co-curricular ensembles, including Year 12 soloists and special guests. This creative project enabled us to record ensembles in a variety of spaces around the College, including the Atelier Theatre and Music/GLA spaces. 

We also took students to the spectacular UKARIA Performance Centre in Mount Barker for a performance recording. This program will be presented as a high-resolution film product, filmed by Charlie Butler (Year 12) , assistant filming and all pre/post audio production by Matt Cooper (2014); thank you to both.

I hope you were able to view the June Music Showcase and please make sure you tune in for the Cabaret online show. We look forward to seeing you around Atelier in 2021.