The University of Sherbrooke unveiled a new cultural policy on Wednesday that school officials claim is unprecedented among other Canadian Universities. According to Alain Webster, Vice-Dean of Sustainable Development, Government Relations, and the University’s Longueil Campus, the objective of the plan is to orient the school and all of its programs toward a greater integration of arts and culture in all aspects of university life.
“When making more room for arts and culture in a university, we cannot go about things in just one way,” Webster said. “There must be many approaches to fully encourage creativity and innovation.”
On paper the new policy is a two-year plan, covering the span of 2015-2017, but the Vice-Dean said that the timeline is only really in place to give the school room to fully incorporate and define the main ideas of the policy while operating on reduced budgets.
“The policy now exists, but its definition can change over time,” Webster said, emphasizing that the important element as far as the school is concerned is that departments, administrators, and university partners now seize the opportunity to explore new approaches and project ideas that will encourage integration of the arts. The region, the Dean argued, stands to gain significantly if it can make itself stand out as a beacon of cultural integration into all aspects of life.
“Arts and culture must be a striking feature of our region,” the Dean said, pointing to the example of work already carried out by Montreal-based company Moment Factory in combining creativity and commerce; blending industry and arts to great success. “The idea is to facilitate this kind of work rather than working to invest in it directly.”
The first concrete action the university has taken in association with the new policy is the creation of a school-wide writing contest and associated creative writing festival spread out over the coming months. According to Anick Lessard, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, this inaugural edition of the competition will highlight and focus on the work of Quebec author Anne Hébert, who would have been 100 years old in 2016.
Complete information on the school’s new policy as well as associated projects and initiatives is available online in French through the newly launched “cultural portal” at http://www.usherbrooke.ca/dd-culture/accueil/demarche/