ArtsSmartsIn the past, Karen Braden and John Rennie jointly managed the Portage ArtsSmarts program. Teachers and artists worked together to bring curricula alive and thousands of school-aged children experienced learning through the arts.

The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation initiated ArtsSmarts in 1998 and CFPD became one of the first seven partners across Canada to launch the program. The McConnell Foundation was looking for a small community that had a community foundation and an arts council and Portage fit the criteria. Over $510,000 came to Portage for the program and $415,000 went to fund 285 projects in schools and community places.

In the past, the major challenge for the ArtsSmarts Committee was to secure funding and sustainability for the program.  CFPD is delighted that the Portage and District Arts Council stepped up to the plate and in September 2007, took over CFPD’s part in administering the program with the School Division.

CFPD is confident ArtsSmarts is in good hands. To show its support CFPD’s President at the time, Ernie Shwaluk presented a cheque for $15,000 from its regular grantmaking program for the 2007/2008 ArtsSmarts program. CFPD also pledged $2,500 per year for the next 4 years. The annual budget for the program is $40,000; so each year the ArtsSmarts Committee will approach the community for financial support.

The Portage School Division has financially supported the program in the past years by injecting more than $20,000.  Community individuals and business have generously donated over $10,000 for the program and some have pledged support for up to five years.

The Canadian Education Association provided $5,000 for transition support for administration and may continue its support for another two years. Funding for the transition is provided by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.