Arts & Human Development Task Force


Last month saw the peer-reviewed journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly publish a “special section” devoted to the arts . The section was co-edited by my colleague Melissa Menzer and Adam Winsler, a developmental psychologist who is also a principal investigator of the National Endowment for...
A persistent shortcoming of research in the arts has been a scarcity of large, longitudinal studies that track representative groups of Americans as they engage not only with the arts, but with other life-changing events and behaviors. Even when such data are available, the studies often do not...
During a January 2017 research workshop held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), participants rapidly became aware that at least two different expert groups had converged on a shared agenda. Working together, music therapists and neuroscientists sought to identify research needs and...
Today happens to be the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band , that epoch-defining LP. Putting one’s own age in perspective, the album’s opening line—“It was 20 years ago today”—no longer conjures an ancient past. For this listener at least, 20 years traverses...
I frequently make trips between my home in the Bay Area and the East Coast. During a recent trip to New York I spent a morning walking with a friend along the High Line—an elevated freight rail line that was transformed into a public park on Manhattan’s West Side. The High Line displays a wide...


Headshot of Akua Kouyate-Tate

Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap

Senior Director of Education at the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Wolf Trap is integrating art with fundamental science and math learning for young children and the data show significant results.

Melissa Menzer of our Office of Research and Analysis looks at our new report on the arts in early childhood.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Journal of the San Francisco Medical Society (March 2008) . In The Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene’s introduction to theoretical physics for a lay audience, the author enthusiastically summarizes the essence of string theory—and its unique...
Carol Morgan, deputy director for Education at ArtsConnection, and Jennifer Stengel-Mohr of New York’s Queens College present context for their presentation during the next NEA Task Force webinar which will focus on their research on the relationship between arts education and English language learners.

Norman-image by Michael Hagedorn.jpg

Man reciting poetry with eldery men.

Poet Gary Glazner (center) working with participants of the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, which uses poetry recitation to trigger brain activity and help people suffering from memory loss. Photo by Michael Hagedorn

Poet Gary Glazner bounded into the New York Memory Center with a dozen roses and an infectious smile. “My love is like a red, red, rose,” he called out to the students, who called back the same line with enthusiasm. It was like he had hit a switch, or turned on the light. Suddenly, the roomful of seniors in varying stages of memory loss came to life.

And it was with this goal that Glazner launched the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 2004—to awaken the minds of those suffering from memory loss. The project, supported by the NEA, has held sessions at more than 100 facilities throughout the U.S. and internationally, reaching more than 15,000 people living with Alzheimer’s.

The evidence is becoming more and more clear that Glazner’s been on to something all these years. The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project is now part of a study, spearheaded by Professor Kate de Medeiros at Miami University-Ohio, to measure the impact of the program on people living with memory loss. Poetry, like dance and music, is proving to be yet another art form that moves Alzheimer's patients to become more vocal, more social, and, quite frankly, more alive. This is especially notable given the inefficacy of medication (which can also cause harm); the high rate of caregiver burnout; and the whopping $150 billion spent annually on Alzheimer’s patients through Medicare and Medicaid. The project was also a feature in the 2011 NEA publication The Arts and Human Development.

Needless to say, the arts are an effective, engaging, and economical tool to help not only those with memory loss but also those managing their care.