Back to School with Arts Education
As families and educators ready children to go back to school, the National Endowment for the Arts recognizes the important role of arts education in educating, engaging, and empowering youth, while also supporting the social and emotional learning needs of students, helping them to succeed both in and out of school.
"The arts can play a crucial role for students and educators, especially in addressing healing and trauma. Through research we know that participation in the arts can support the social and emotional learning needs of students, including teaching emotional regulation and compassion for others. They can also provide an outlet for students to process their emotions following trauma so they can begin the healing process and build resiliency." --from Nancy Daugherty's blog post "The Importance of Heading Back to School with Arts Education"
See below for more information on the benefits of arts education on wellness, resources that can support the advancement arts education in communities across the country, and stories and interviews on the ways arts education can provide students with outlets for expression and growth, while also helping to close the opportunity gap and help students thrive.
Arts Education and Student Wellness
Involvement in the arts can support the social and emotional learning needs of students, including teaching students how to manage their emotions and have compassion for others. The arts can also provide an outlet for students to process their emotions from disaster and trauma to begin the healing process and build resiliency, a key factor to successful transitions back to school. Explore the Arts Education Partnership’s ArtsEdSearch for recent studies on healing and wellness outcomes as well as blog posts discussing such topics as the connection between arts education and student wellness.
NEA Grants to Support Arts Education
The NEA’s arts education grant funding supports opportunities for students to participate in the arts in communities of all sizes across the country by
- providing opportunities for PreK to 12th-grade students to experience arts;
- ensuring educators, teaching artists, and school leaders have the necessary training in arts education to support student learning; and
- transforming schools and communities by providing access and engagement in the arts for all students through collective, systemic approaches.
Close to 75 percent of NEA-supported arts education projects engage underserved populations.
Using Data to Understand Access to Arts Education
Data can be a powerful way to understand what kinds of arts education opportunities are available in your community. The State Data Infrastructure Project for Arts Education, a free resource from the NEA and the Education Commission of the States, provides tools to help states and their partners extract, analyze, and report on data about arts education. Funding is available through the NEA to support arts education data systems.
Advancing Arts Education through the Arts Education Partnership
The Arts Education Partnership (AEP) is a national network of more than 100 organizations dedicated to advancing arts education. AEP has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education since 1995 and is administered by Education Commission of the States. AEP is the nation’s hub for arts and education leaders, building their leadership capacity to support students, educators, and learning environments. Through research, reports, convenings, and counsel, leaders gain knowledge and insights to ensure that all learners receive an excellent arts education.
Arts Education Stories
Through dance, Mauro Ballet has helped San Juan students recover emotionally from Hurricane Maria and Covid-19.
Ayanna Hudson, acting deputy chairman of Programs and Partnerships at the National Endowment for the Arts, discusses the singular role the arts and arts education can play as students return to the classroom, and Agnes Chavez, founder of STEMarts Lab, discusses her successes in using the arts to develop science and math skills.
Dr. Donovan discusses the work being done with support from the Arts Endowment to increase access to arts education equitably in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
Through intensive creative writing programs and arts programming, Deep Center empowers young people to realize that their stories are worth celebrating. They, in turn, help their city—Savannah, Georgia—understand how their stories enrich the history of the city.
This project, a partnership between the West Alabama and Greater Birmingham Arts Education Collaboratives, aims to address inequalities in arts access in West-Central Alabama, with a special focus on pre-K through 12th grade students in rural areas still feeling the effects of segregation and white flight.
Big Thought wants to close the opportunity gap by providing gateways for all children—particularly those in low-income communities of color where the opportunity gap is most dire— to participate in arts-based activities that will cultivate their curiosity, their ability to work collaboratively, and, most importantly, their creativity.
To help residents deal with community anger in the wake of the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, SLCGS formed a partnership with the Ferguson-Florissant Schools District to offer in-school guitar lessons. Now known as Guitar Horizons, the project has since grown to include multiple sites, professional development for music teachers, and public performance opportunities for students.
Using movement to explore concepts like the water cycle, the Side-by-Side Dance Residency Program from Tanner Dance at the University of Utah adds an entirely new dimension to elementary school curricula, bringing academic topics to life while introducing children to the concepts of movement and the joy of dance. A distance learning component connects participating schools in Salt Lake City to additional rural classrooms in southern Utah.
The Grand Canyon Music Festival’s Native American Composers Apprenticeship Project seeks to bring musical inspiration and education to rural Native communities, many of which don't have the resources to offer strong arts programs for their students.
Hear about how Wolf Trap is using art integration with fundamental science and math learning for young children as well as the overall benefits of arts integration: “Learning is about multiple approaches to an idea. Learning has to do with looking at the various dimensions of how something is addressed….You will be able to see that not only are you engaging in some skills related to math, but it might be some social-justice skills; it might be some areas of collaboration; it might be some art forms that you need to communicate the concepts that you’re trying to get across. It could be multiple ways. This is life.”
Project H Design brings design projects to local neighborhoods, supporting experiential learning for kids through hands-on design and building projects that would benefit their community. “[W]e talk a lot about bravery and that bravery is something you can practice and one of the ways to practice that is by building things and picking up a tool you haven’t used or working with someone you haven’t worked with before or saying ‘yes’ to a project that you’ve never done. And so we try to just cultivate that environment that this is a safe space to be afraid and to build something in the face of that fear.”