Shakespeare in Action is Artistic Company in Residence in Central Commerce Collegiate Institute – a school with a 100-year-old history and some amazing teachers.
Tonight, Rebecca DiLeo, the current Head of the CCCI Art Department, will host heART this! – one of the biggest events that she has planned, second only to her wedding. Teacher, fashion illustrator, and entertainer at heart, Rebecca loves bringing people together for projects that create social awareness and change. It’s never art for art’s sake.
heART this! – fundraiser for inner-city ARTs – will feature DJs, designers, 7 Toronto artists, and the work of talented CCCI students. This event is an extension of the Arts & Culture Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program at the school, a program that Rebecca has overseen for the past two years.
SIA: So what exactly is a Specialist High Skills Major?
Beckie: It’s experiential learning. It’s about getting students out of the classroom and into the community – to work with professionals, gain expertise, and understand the fundamentals of whatever excursion we happen to be on.
SIA: So the SHSM is interdisciplinary by nature?
Beckie: Yes. I find the SHSM is shaped by the availability of the contacts within my community and the current trends in pop culture. I want to make the program relevant to students. I want it to be as current and contemporary as possible. And I want to expose students to a variety of arts, to help them make decisions about what they want to pursue post-secondary or in the workplace.
SIA: Could you tell me a little more about heART this!?
Beckie: One of my major principles or philosophies in becoming an artist is learning the art of collaboration. heART this! is an event that brings together professionals from a variety of artistic fields, who will showcase their work alongside students enrolled in the Arts at CCC. It’s an exciting opportunity for students to exhibit and potentially sell their work – their work being everything from digital art, to photography, to mixed media painting, to jewelry design, to fashion design. This event will have another layer to it and that will be to promote the art of acceptance, something we’ve explored through previous anti-bullying campaigns.
SIA: When you say the “art of acceptance,” you mean that two ways, right?
Beckie: Right. Through collaboration with Global Warming Tees (spreading a positive message, one t-shirt at a time), various jewelry designers (Kurve Jewelry, Myles Sexton), and artists who up-cycle used clothes (Jool Designs), students have created a fashion line that promotes the art of self-expression. Fashions will be paired with our “We take no bull-ying” t-shirts.” Students are going to be modelling with professional models and are going to be advocates for progressive arts programming and acceptance all around. The money is going to back into our Arts Department.
SIA: What is your vision for CCCI Arts in the future?
Beckie: I think it’s wonderful having professional theatre company working out of our school facility. Ideally, I’d like to rent out rooms to artists, create residencies in exchange for programming. I’d like to take the learning on the road – the City is my classroom.