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York U offers most culturally diverse performing arts education in Ontario, study reveals

York U offers most culturally diverse performing arts education in Ontario, study reveals

Home » Category Listing » York U offers most culturally diverse performing arts education in Ontario, study reveals

York U offers most culturally diverse performing arts education in Ontario, study reveals

Community Researchers’ report highlights the School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, says Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng    

TORONTO, Nov. 27, 2023 – York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) is ranked No. 1 among Ontario universities and colleges, for offering the most culturally diverse music and dance undergraduate programs, in a recent report by Toronto-based non-profit organization Community Researchers.

The research report, Cultural Diversity in Ontario’s Performing Arts Education, analyzed 77 performing arts programs and more than 6,000 performing arts courses available in colleges and universities in the province.

York U ranked No. 1 among Ontario universities and colleges for offering the most culturally diverse music and dance undergraduate programs

“We are proud to see the longstanding work of our faculty, staff and students reflected in this report, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to expand the visibility of York’s performing arts to reflect the great diversity of our University and communities,” says Sarah Bay-Cheng, dean of AMPD. “We look forward to welcoming audiences to attend and witness the great talent here,” she says, noting the accolade affirms York University’s commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and positive change in performing arts education.

Bay-Cheng adds, “It’s not only about better training for performing arts majors, but also offering elective courses to a broad demographic of learners. We know that diverse cultural offerings can support greater mental and physical health for diverse student populations and within society in the long run.” 

The study was conducted by Queen’s University student Sarah Yee through the federal Canada Summer Jobs program at the Community Researchers. The organization connects young researchers and sector mentors, aiming to serve communities and support the career development of young individuals.

The study Yee conducted in collaboration with Pratibha Arts reveals that universities surpass colleges in offering performing arts programs, and that university performing arts programs make more references to cultural diversity than those in colleges. Course descriptions more frequently mentioned racialized groups such as Black, Indigenous and Latin American communities, according to the report.

The report also identifies areas for expansion and further development, highlighting South Asian, Chinese and Southeast Asian communities as underserved within performing arts programs across Ontario universities.

Bageshree Vaze, artistic director of Pratibha Arts, who mentored Yee on the project points out, “One in ten Ontarians are South Asian, yet there is very little training in South Asian performing arts at the post-secondary level.”

Working to improve diversity, AMPD will be offering a forthcoming Philippine Folk Dance & Culture Summer Abroad course, furthering York’s commitment to inclusive excellence and promoting diverse identities and perspectives though art.

Bay-Cheng believes that the study demonstrates potential for Ontario’s post-secondary institutions. “We hope that this study will help both academic leaders and the broader public appreciate the importance and opportunities for cultural diversity in performing arts education.”


About York University:

York University is a modern, multi-campus, urban university located in Toronto, Ontario. Backed by a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners, we bring a uniquely global perspective to help solve societal challenges, drive positive change and prepare our students for success. York's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. York’s campuses in Costa Rica and India offer students exceptional transnational learning opportunities and innovative programs. Together, we can make things right for our communities, our planet, and our future.

About Community Researchers:

Established in 2020, Community Researchers is a nonprofit research organization which connects young researchers with established mentors to conduct important community projects.  Its official mandates are to provide career opportunities for emerging researchers, while serving community organizations and nonprofits which are unable to access professional research services. Community Researchers prioritizes initiatives involving underserved analysts and communities.

Media Contact: Gloria Suhasini, York University Media Relations and External Communications, 647-464-4354,