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York University Leads Ontario in Culturally Diverse Performing Arts Education, Study Reveals

York University Leads Ontario in Culturally Diverse Performing Arts Education, Study Reveals

Elevating Inclusivity: AMPD's Leading Role in Performing Arts Education.

In a new research report conducted by Community Researchers, the York University School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) has been ranked the #1 University in Ontario for the cultural diversity of its performing arts curricula in Music and Dance. The comprehensive study, spanning June to July 2023, analyzed 77 performing arts programs and over 6,000 performing arts courses across Ontario colleges and universities. This accolade affirms York University’s commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and positive change in performing arts education.

The research was conducted by Community Researchers, a non-profit organization that connects young researchers with experienced mentors for community research projects, aiming to serve communities and support the career development of young individuals.

York U ranked No. 1 among Ontario universities and colleges for offering the most culturally diverse music and dance undergraduate programs

Community Researchers found York University's Music (BFA) and Dance (BFA) programs are leaders in culturally diverse performing arts education. The report also revealed that Ontario Universities surpass Ontario Colleges in offering performing arts programs, and that Ontario University performing arts programs make more references to cultural diversity than those in Ontario Colleges. Course descriptions more frequently mentioned racialized groups such as Black, Indigenous, and Latin American communities.

Sarah Bay-Cheng, Dean of York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, believes that the study demonstrates potential for Ontario’s postsecondary institutions.

“We hope that this study will help both academic leaders and the broader public appreciate the importance and opportunities for cultural diversity in performing arts education,” says Bay-Cheng. “It’s not only about better training for performing arts majors, but also offering elective courses to a broad demographic of learners. For example, our African drumming course is very popular among non-music majors. We know that diverse cultural offerings can support greater mental and physical health for diverse student populations and within society in the long run.”

The report did identify areas for expansion and further development, specifically noting underserved South Asian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian communities within performing arts programs across Ontario Universities.

Bageshree Vaze, Artistic Director of Pratibha Arts, and York MA Dance ’00 alumna comments,

“One in ten Ontarians are South Asian, yet there is very little training in South Asian performing arts at the post-secondary level.”

Working to address deficits, AMPD highlights the forthcoming Philippine Folk Dance & Culture Summer Abroad Course, furthering York’s commitment to inclusive excellence and promoting diverse identities and perspectives through art.

As Bay-Cheng invites, “We are proud to see the longstanding work of our faculty, staff and students reflected in this report, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to expand the visibility of York’s performing arts to reflect the great diversity of our University and communities. We look forward to welcoming audiences to attend and witness the great talent here.”

To read the full report, visit: communityresearchers.org/feature-reports