Arts Umbrella reaches out to remote communities with Northern Arts Connection

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      Arts Umbrella has been providing innovative arts programming to urban dwellers for almost 40 years, but now it's bound for the remote north.

      In a new program called Northern Arts Connection, the Granville Island-based school's classes and workshops in visual and performing arts will reach remote Canadian communities via high-definition two-way video communication. 

      It's a partnership with Toronto-based TakingITGlobal, a digital learning program that was founded by Cisco Systems. The new programming will be part of TakingITGlobal's Connected North, which provides farflung schools with access to innovative virtual content. 

      Cisco Canada is providing the technology for Northern Arts Connection at a reduced cost, which will also allow for cultural exchanges and collaborations between schools, as students will be able to share ideas and learn from one another no matter where they're located geographically.

      This year, Northern Arts Connection will engage 500 to 1,000 students in up to 41 schools. Over three years, the program is expected to reach over 2,500 students aged five to 18.
      Northern Arts Connection is launching as a pilot program now, building to a full program in 2020.
      The partnership comes at a time of great change and growth for Arts Umbrella, as the dance, theatre, and visual-arts programmer gets ready to move into to a larger, high-tech new centre on Granville Island in 2020.

      The new facility  is at 1400 Johnston Street (formerly Emily Carr University of Art + Design’s South Building), and covers a 50,000-square-foot space. The renovated building will be home to seven dance studios, four theatre and music studios, eight visual, applied and media arts studios, a 160-seat professional theatre, a publicly accessible exhibition gallery, and new workshop spaces.

      Architect Richard Henriquez, the founding partner of Henriquez Partners Architects, is responsible for leading the renewal of the Patkau-designed building that was built in the early 1990s.