Arts Education

Research positively correlates arts education to school success factors such as higher graduation rates and stronger achievement scores. Arts education is also correlated to social and emotional development, civic engagement, and future arts participation. Yet low income students and students of color continue to lack access to everyday instruction in the arts while in school. This systemic denial of the arts and instruction through the arts translates into children who are ill-prepared for advanced study in high school and are behind in the skills they need to be successful in the workforce and college.
Posted on October 4, 2016 by Monica

The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts have opened applications for school districts, foundations, or nonprofits to apply to join Turnaround Arts, a program to assist school reform through high-quality and integrated arts education. Selected organizations will partner with Turnaround Arts: National to build locally-based technical assistance programs, bringing in national and regional resources to use the arts as an intervention strategy in clusters of low-performing schools, and their work will begin in March 2017.

View the application.

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Monica

By Tom Teicholz, writing for Forbes:

The Los Angeles City College Foundation announced a $10.1 million gift from The Herb Alpert Foundation, creating an endowment that will provide tuition free attendance at Los Angeles City College to all music majors. This is the largest gift ever for a Southern California Community College.

Read the full article.

Posted on May 10, 2016 by Steve

In response to a recent controversy at a service organization convening discussing equity at the National Endowment for the Arts, Janet Brown, CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts, and Richard Kessler, Executive Dean of the College of Performing Arts at The New School, have penned an open letter to the arts community.

Posted on May 5, 2016 by Monica

Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion has released a new publication, Dancing to the Top: How Collective Action Revitalized Arts Education in Boston. This case study of the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion (BPS-AE), a program supported by Barr Foundation and others, examines the expansion of quality in-school arts instruction as a means to increase equity of opportunity in Boston Public Schools.

Read the report.

Posted on May 2, 2016 by Monica

As announced by The Wallace Foundation, a new report from RAND Corporation outlines how public schools can utilize funding from the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support leadership improvement:

This RAND report describes major ESSA funding programs that can be used to pay for school leadership improvement efforts; the law’s categories of acceptable evidence, and where and how they come into play; and activities supported by research in the top three evidence categories.

Read the report.

Posted on February 18, 2016 by Steve

From Martin Levine at Nonprofit Quarterly:

Across the political spectrum, there is agreement that our public schools are not meeting their responsibility to our children’s futures. Spanning the Bush and Obama presidencies, a common thread has been the setting of a national imperative to improve public education. In his first inaugural address, President Bush shared his view of our public education system: “The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools.” President Obama began the last year of his presidency saying that the nation still needed to “restore the promise of America’s public education, and ensure that American children again lead the world in achievement, creativity and success.” Policymakers in both administrations and mega-philanthropists like Bill Gates and the Walton family shared a common narrative of the reasons our public schools were failing, which shaped educational policy.

Red the full article.

Posted on January 15, 2016 by Steve

Ingenuity, a hub of arts information, advocacy, strategy, and partnerships based in Chicago, has released its annual progress report examining arts education in Chicago Public Schools in the 2014-15 school year. Among numerous positive developments, the report reflects an increase in the number of certified arts instructors, and 30,000 elementary school students with greater access to arts staffing and instruction than the year before. Data was reported through multiple sources, including individual schools and hundreds of community arts partners, all of which feed Ingenuity's artlook Map – a public website focused on the dynamic landscape of arts education in Chicago.

Read the full report.

Posted on January 14, 2016 by Steve

The Arts Education Funders Coalition (AEFC), supported by Grantmakers in the Arts, worked over the past 3 years to ensure that arts education was preserved and enhanced within the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA is the federal law that provides over $20 billion in funding to states, school districts, and schools to improve academic achievement and improve teacher and principal training and quality. This undertaking by the AEFC paid off when Congress recently passed, and the President signed into law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which reauthorizes ESEA, replacing No Child Left Behind.

Preserving and Enhancing the Arts in ESEA

The new law retains key provisions and enhances others, which both allow federal education funding to be used to support arts education and allow for the arts to be systemically included in programs and activities at the state, school district, and school level. However, this positive result did not come about without some uncertainty. The AEFC stepped up its advocacy efforts when the arts in ESEA came under attack during Congress’ work this fall. The AEFC, and other supportive organizations, worked to convince Congress of the need to maintain and strengthen...

Posted on December 10, 2015 by Steve

From Alyson Klein, writing for Education Week:

For the past quarter century, federal education policy has been moving in one direction: toward standards-based education redesign, a greater reliance on standardized tests, and bigger role for Washington when it comes to holding schools accountable for student results. President Barack Obama reversed course with the stroke of a pen Thursday, putting states and districts back at the wheel when it comes to teacher evaluation, standards, school turnarounds, and accountability, through a new iteration of the five-decade old Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Read the full article.

Posted on December 3, 2015 by Janet

The US House of Representatives passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act conference report last night, December 2, 2015, by a strong vote – 359 to 64. The Senate is expected to take the bill up next week.

This bill is a big win for arts education. Specifically, this bill would:

  • Define the arts as a “well-rounded” education activity/subject.
  • Explicitly allow Title I funding to be used for the arts and other well-rounded activities and subjects.
  • Explicitly allow professional development funding under Title II of ESEA to be used to benefit arts teachers.
  • Explicitly allow after school funding through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program to specifically be used for the arts.
  • Ensure that the arts are an allowable use of funds under the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment State and local school district grant program.

A successful amendment to the conference report by Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) also allows states to integrate other subject areas, including the arts, into STEM programs.

These additions make it more explicit that the $17 billion in Federal ESEA funding can be used to support the arts and provide arts education. While...

Posted on November 3, 2015 by Steve

From Melissa Bailey of the Boston Globe:

Aspiring doctors may not think they have time to gaze at paintings or play the viola while they’re cramming for anatomy tests. But Harvard Medical School thinks students should be doing more of that — and the school is not alone. This fall, Harvard launched a new initiative to use more drama, dance, and literature to help medical students become empathetic and reflective doctors. In doing so, Harvard joins a growing number of schools making more overt efforts to weave arts and humanities into medical education.

Read the full article.

Posted on November 2, 2015 by Steve

Arts Education Partnership has released The Arts Leading the Way to Student Success: A 2020 Action Agenda for Advancing the Arts in Education. The document serves as the blueprint for the collective work of the Arts Education Partnership for the next five years. This and other important information is all part of the new AEP ArtsEd Digest.

Posted on October 14, 2015 by SuJ'n

Theatre Forward released a report, "Unmasking Business Success: Executive Perceptions of Arts Engagement and Workforce Skills." The research commissioned from Shugoll Research found that executives believe there is a strong link between an person's exposure to arts education and their potential for professional success. Bruce Whitacre, executive director of Theatre Forward, shares on The Conference Board blog:

...since executives confirm that the workforce demands the skills the arts develop, we are creating a key opportunity gap for students in poor schools who have little or no access to arts engagement.

A brief video of the findings can be found here.

Posted on October 5, 2015 by Stan Hutton

In June 2015, Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD), California's largest K-6 district serving nearly 30,000 children, announced its decision to reinstate in-school visual and performing arts (VAPA) education at every school. With a $15 million commitment divided over three years, the district has designed a framework that uses sequential arts instruction for every student to free classroom teachers for collaboration and planning time. This decision was the culmination of a five year collaboration with San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS) designed to rebuild access to music and arts education after a 15-year absence in the district. What started in 2010 as the Community Opus Project after-school music program for sixty-five 3rd graders has evolved into one of the largest and most rapid restorations of arts education in the nation with over 70 VAPA teachers hired since June. Using an El Sistema inspired approach, SDYS assisted the district with rebuilding its arts education infrastructure as well as managing cultural changes associated with returning arts education to campuses. This webinar will provide concrete examples of how an innovative approach to reforming public education through the arts has...

Posted on September 24, 2015 by Steve

School principals are “invaluable multipliers of teaching and learning in the nation’s schools,” according to “Developing Excellent School Principals to Advance Teaching and Learning: Considerations for State Policy,” a new report commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and written by Paul Manna, a political scientist at the College of William & Mary, as well as an expert on state education policy. Several state and local arts advocacy organizations have created programs to educate principals on the benefits of arts programming and to develop cohorts of principals that will inspire others. This report gives an overview of the value of working with principals and how policies might be considered to help them promote better learning in all areas including the arts.

Read the full report.

Posted on August 28, 2015 by Steve

Chula Vista Elementary School District (Chula Vista, California is located just south of Dan Diego) launched an arts education expansion and teacher hiring spree this summer unlike any that local arts educators have ever seen. The district serving 30,000 students hired about 60 new art teachers in the span of a few months, and 16 arts instructor spots still remain open… The district’s unprecedented investment in arts instruction was made possible by $15 million in funding approved by the Chula Vista school board in June. The allocation flowed from Gov. Jerry Brown’s state local control funding formula that shifted education spending decisions to the local level and targets disadvantaged students.

Read the full article.

Posted on August 14, 2015 by Steve

From Megan Burbank, writing for the Portland Mercury:

(Emily) Sterling and Char Hutson’s debut documentary, Arts Exit: Saving the Creative Kid, which was selected by the Hollywood Theatre for a fiscal sponsorship, tracks the human cost of gutted arts education in Portland’s schools. The filmmakers’ rationale is simple: They’re both educators in Portland Public Schools. By day, Hutson’s a community outreach coordinator who works with a caseload of 400-plus students, and Sterling directs a youth development middle school program. To make Arts Exit, Sterling and Hutson filmed and edited around the demands—and schedules—of their day jobs, tracking students’ experiences in the wake of drastic cuts to arts education.

Read the full article.

Posted on July 13, 2015 by Steve

United States House of Representatives

Last week the House took up H.R. 5, the Student Success Act, for the second time after the bill was pulled from the floor in February due to lack of votes. While none of the amendments were related to arts education or our AEFC agenda, the House bill does include references to arts education as part of the local block grant in Title I and in Title II with regard to professional development. The House passed H.R. 5 by a final vote of 218-213. All Democrats and 27 Republicans voted against the bill.

United States Senate

Beginning on July 7, 2015, the Senate debated and voted on amendments to the S. 1177, the Every Child Achieves Act. The Senate has not completed its work on this bill and is expected to continue the consideration of amendments throughout this week. As a reminder, the AEFC arts education agenda is well represented as part of this legislation. The AEFC agenda is well represented as part of the legislation including:
  • A definition of “core academic subjects” that includes the arts. While not leveraged effectively in current law, core academic subjects appears in several key locations in the bill (see below)....
Posted on June 26, 2015 by Steve

Earlier this year, Arts Education Partnership (AEP) announced that the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education have initiated a process for finding a new home for AEP.The NEA has now released the Program Solicitation for the AEP, a competitive process to find the AEP a new home in January 2016. The Arts Endowment requires organizations to submit their proposals electronically through, the federal government’s online application system. The system must receive your validated and accepted proposal no later than 11:59pm Eastern Time on August 4, 2015.

Read the complete program solicitation.

Posted on May 21, 2015 by Steve

The AEFC Forum, Every Child, Every School was held in Minneapolis in early May. Attendees were treated to great presentations and reports, including the release of Foundation Funding for Arts Education: An Update on Foundation Trends, a new report from GIA and Foundation Center that looks at data from 1999-2012. Links to the reports, as well as materials from the presentations, are available on the forum page.