Professor wins award

Larry O’Farrell recognized for his body of work in drama

A lifetime achievement award for professor Larry O’Farrell is the culmination of four decades of work in the dramatic arts at Queen’s.

O’Farrell, a professor in the Faculty of Education, said the award is humbling.

“After I was told I was receiving it, I looked up some of the people who had received it before, and they are people who I look up to,” he said. “It’s a very wonderful thing to receive it and of course I was very pleased.”

The American Alliance for Theatre and Education — an organization that serves as a professional and networking institution for theatre artists as well as dramatic arts educators — honoured O’Farrell with the Campton Bell Lifetime Achievement Award on July 29. Each year it’s presented to someone who has spent his or her life contributing to the field of arts education.

“I like the multifaceted element of working in a university,” O’Farrell said. “We have excellent programs [at Queen’s.]” O’Farrell said it’s extremely important to have arts educators who are passionate about what they teach. Because of this, he supports programs that send artists and other specialists to teach classes in schools, provided that they are adequately trained.

“If we’re going to have artists come into the classroom, we have to work with those artists in advance to prepare them to work in schools,” he said.

O’Farrell said he’s positive about the state of arts education in Canadian schools.

“I look at dramatic arts programs and I see that there are people there who really know what they are doing and are committed,” he said. “That is very encouraging to me.”

In addition to his professorship, O’Farrell holds one of only two existing United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chairs in Arts Education. As holder of the chair, his job is to promote UNESCO’s mandate, both at Queen’s and internationally.

“UNESCO has quite a long history of supporting arts education,” he said.

At the 2010 UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education in Seoul, South Korea, O’Farrell helped develop the Seoul Agenda, an action plan that calls for the implementation and promotion of arts education worldwide.

O’Farrell is also the head of the Canadian Network for Arts and Learning (CNAL), which is a Canadian association closely connected to arts and learning advocacy organizations.

Through being involved with UNESCO and the CNAL, O’Farrell has established many networks that have helped him connect his students in the Faculty of Education to professionals in the theatre community. “In addition to their teaching practice in schools, [they] can go for a few weeks to a practicum setting in a non-school environment,” he said.

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