Art and Childhood for a better world

Art and Childhood for a better world

On the strength of a long-standing international collaboration between the Department of Musicology of Jean Monnet University in Saint-Étienne and the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal, which has manifested itself in sustained teaching mobility between 2014 and 2017, Nathalie Fernando (professor and dean of the Faculty of Music at the Université de Montréal) and Anne Damon-Guillot (professor at the Jean Monnet University, head of the "Music and musicology" master's degree) have initiated a joint research project on the crossroads of childhood and music.

Indeed, their scientific interests coincide.

On the one hand, the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal is involved in a project entitled "Music for Children", in partnership with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. Researchers are studying the impact of the music programme on the learning of reading and writing, on the understanding of mathematical concepts, fine and gross motor skills and social development.

On the other hand, with the support of the Société Française d'Ethnomusicologie, the Musée National de l'Éducation (Rouen), the research unit Eclla and the Department of Musicology, Anne Damon-Guillot is conducting a collective research project on the concept of the "musical child". This research looks at the construction of "child folklore" from an epistemological perspective, drawing on a large collection of mostly unpublished archives. It also seeks to understand, through an ethnographic approach, the relationship between children and music, between ontological questions and the understanding of cultural representations.  

The project "Art and childhood for a better world" goes beyond the links between childhood and music by questioning more broadly the encounter between art and childhood and its societal impact. Thus, artists, researchers, educators and cultural actors reflect together on the sources and issues of the association between art and childhood, through the prism of commitment. The project associates structures in the field (schools, musical ensembles, charitable and cultural associations, museums), particularly from the Rhône-Alpes region and Quebec, who are betting on the virtuous power of art and the receptivity of children. What can art do for the child? Can it make the world - the world of children and the world they share with adults - better? In what contexts and according to what expectations? By what means and in what ways? The project brings together various academic disciplines, ranging from art studies (musicology, visual arts) to socio-anthropology and history. It is based on the creation, by artists from the Rhône-Alpes region, of an original and committed work by the Quebec composer François-Hugues Leclair, L'Amour de la Terre. This musical tale with a children's choir (Maîtrise de la Loire), which expresses itself on the environmental issues of our time, has been premiered at the University of Saint-Étienne in December 2021, in the presence of the composer.



The "Art and childhood for a better world" project is characterised by the variety of its formats and the ambition of its multidisciplinary approach: an international symposium, interviews with renowned artists and the creation of a musical work. It combines international collaboration and local roots, research and teaching. In a desire to co-construct knowledge, it brings together researchers and actors in the field. It proposes new forms of research writing (radio documentary, exhibition, audiovisual montages). Finally, it initiates a collective reflection based on concrete artistic projects involved in society and whose mission is precisely to build "a better world".

This project "Art and childhood for a better world" is supported by the Entretiens Jacques Cartier for the year 2020-2021. This mechanism, which aims to be a space for dialogue between actors from the academic, economic, institutional, scientific and associative worlds and citizen groups, encourages Franco-Quebec collaborations that respond to the spirit and missions of the Entretiens Jacques Cartier with a strong societal impact. In this exceptional year due to the health context, the Centre Jacques Cartier decided to give these Entretiens a two-part form: the organisation of a Virtual Summit which took place from 2 to 6 November 2020, followed by face-to-face Franco-Quebec Meetings which will take place on 13 October 2021.

The project "Art and childhood for a better world" is multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary and therefore consists of two linked parts

- a virtual meeting, on 6 November 2020

This sequence can be viewed in replay on the EJC platform.

- a Franco-Quebec symposium, on October the 13rd 2021, during which the speaking will be distributed through conferences, interviews and round tables.

This symposium has been extended by the performance of the musical tale L'Amour de la Terre on December the 1st 2021 at 8pm in the presence of the composer in Saint-Étienne.

Contact : Anne Damon (anne.damon @