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Cultural arts in group work agencies McCosham, Beverley Jane Jerome

Abstract

This study investigates the special values of cultural arts programmes in leisure-time agencies. First, the contribution that cultural arts make to the broader field of recreation is studied. Then there are more detailed studies of the segments of cultural arts programmes. Social group workers should know some of the basic concepts of the administration of such a programme and its function in the total agency structure. Special sections are included on specific cultural arts as programme content: music, dancing, painting, drawing and design, drama and theatre, ceramics, other cultural programmes. The values of cultural arts to the members and how the leader uses the arts in helping the member develop are important. The broader aims of cultural arts and the way in which a cultural arts programme is established are discussed. Material used in this thesis was gathered from many group work agencies. Replies to a set of questions were received from twenty-six people who represented eleven recreation agencies in Canada, and fifteen agencies in the United States. Y.M.C.A's, Y.W.C.A's, settlement houses, neighbourhood houses, and community centres are represented. The main material is derived from interviews with staff people from four Vancouver agencies: The Young Men's Christian Association, The Young Women's Christian Association, Gordon Neighbourhood House (both Senior and Junior houses), and Alexandra Neighbourhood House. Other information was received from correspondence. The study throws light on the contribution that cultural arts programmes can make to group work agencies. Cultural arts help to develop the personality of the members and provide an excellent medium through which leaders can work effectively. Arts present exceptional opportunities for improving the quality and richness of programme content. Cultural arts programmes can be a part of the total philosophy and function of the agency. The evidence is, that in group work agencies, cultural arts have not received the emphasis that should be placed on them. Examples reviewed in this study show that art and social group work are compatible. There seems to be a tendency for cultural arts to be more developed in longer-established agencies. It remains for the smaller and "younger" group work agencies to realize the values inherent in cultural art activities. The development of art activity in group work agencies depends upon an understanding of its contribution to individuals and groups. The total picture shows that the broad values of cultural arts programmes in group work agencies are recognized far more than they are put into practice.

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