Based in Toronto, Ontario, PAONE is a home for professionals who are committed to meaningful arts education within their organizations and communities.

As a member-driven service organization, we provide networking and professional development opportunities.  We advocate for the value of arts education and strive to elevate the broader standards in arts education practice.

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PAONE began in 1992 in Stratford, Ontario when Pat Quigley, Education Manager at the Stratford Festival at that time, brought together education professionals from various arts organizations. The purpose was to identify issues of mutual concern and to offer support to one another. The idea of arts advocacy as a concerted effort was also part of the motivation of forming PAONE, to create a group who could work together to develop effective strategies to promote arts education within the organizations themselves and in the larger community. 

 The arts organizations represented at the first meetings in 1992 were the Stratford Festival (Pat Quigley), the Shaw Festival (Andrea Vagianos), the Canadian Opera Company (Zis Parras), the National Ballet of Canada (Assis Carreiro/Sharon Vanderlinde), and Young People's Theatre (Patterson Fardell). Over the next few years, the group grew to include Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Barbara Mancktelow/Roberta Smith), Canadian Stage (Brenda Houston/ Patty Jarvis), Theatre Direct (Shelley Switzer) and Opera Hamilton (Peter Oleskevich).

The first few years of this collective saw some significant projects and outcomes. PAONE partnered with the Ontario Arts Council to provide cooperative arts workshops for at least two boards of education. Also, PAONE inspired several members to organize their own committees at the board level, modeled after the National Ballet’s Education Committee, which provided access to the decision-makers at their respective governing bodies.

In 2002, all of the initial exploratory work culminated in the MODD project (Music Opera Drama Dance, 2002), a joint production of Romeo and Juliet by the Stratford Festival, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company and Ballet Jörgen. It was organized by the education managers at each participating company (Pat Quigley, Roberta Smith, Caroline Hollway and Bengt Jörgen) and by Zis Parras (independent producer). This was a huge undertaking involving theatre artists from the Stratford Festival, musicians from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, opera singers from the COC Ensemble and company dancers from Ballet Jörgen. The production was directed by Richard Rose and performed three times at the North York Centre. This was a pivotal moment and received considerable press coverage at the time.

Building on the momentum started by its founders, PAONE officially incorporated in 2010 under the leadership of Patty Jarvis, with a new Board including Patty Jarvis (Independent Arts Consultant, Studio 180, bcurrent), Karen Gilodo (Young Peoples Theatre), Jessi Linn Davies (Independent Artist-Educator), Rob Kempson (Canadian Stage), Katherine Semcesen (Canadian Opera Company), and Matthew White (Factory Theatre).  The following year the Board welcomed Amber Ebert (Soundstreams), and Caroline Hollway (Independent Arts Consultant) to the team, after Jessi Linn Davies and Matthew White completed their one-year terms. After receiving a Compass Grant in 2011, PAONE went through a strategic planning process and developed new opportunities for networking and learning for those working in arts education/outreach at professional performing arts institutions. The years immediately after incorporation laid the foundation for PAONE’s expansion and continued support of organizations and professionals dedicated to outreach, public programming, and enriching arts experiences for students and educators.

Fast forward to present day, PAONE serves more than 30 professional arts organizations, represented by over 60 individual members who all share a commitment to arts education. Our current members represent organizations and independent artists of all disciplines – dance, theatre, music, opera, film, and more. We host networking and professional development events for our members, issue regular newsletters and create partnerships to advance and advocate for relevant, meaningful, and more sustainable arts education programs in Ontario.

Those working in arts education confront a spectrum of challenges related to the life-long learning within arts organizations. We are committed to supporting the growth and development of the programming and professionals in the sector.