The need to reinvigorate arts education continues to be a pressing issue for arts and culture organizations as well as for public and private schools. Having been faced with a number of funding challenges, arts education has repeatedly found itself on the chopping block time and time again. The actual decline of arts education however started nearly 40 years ago. A RAND study entitled, Revitalizing Arts Education through Community-Wide Coordination was released in 2008 and illustrated the severe decline of arts education since the early 1970’s. This study not only brings to light the participation in educational programming, but the finding indicate that it could have had some impact on the decline in the participation in the arts as a whole.
In recent years, the Wallace Foundation released a number of reports surrounding this topic and has invested millions of dollars nationally in arts and culture education initiatives. Additionally, a number of other national funders such as the Ford and MetLife Foundations have shifted their focus towards greater financial support.
Looking locally, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture released in their 2009 General Operating Support Analysis Report that cultural visits by school children have reached 1,069,965 - an increase of 11% from the year prior. Their report states that participation in educational programming has become more accessible through the supplementation of direct participation costs and the increase of arts education programs.
Each year, Arts Cleveland evaluates the educational outcomes of the Cleveland School of the Arts and compares them against the broader Cleveland school district and the state of Ohio. The 2011 report illustrates that students attending the Cleveland School of the Arts were performing at the highest levels in the areas of 7th and 8th grade math, school attendance and graduation rates. The students also out-paced students in the Ohio public school system in the areas of 8th grade reading proficiency, attendance rates and graduation rates.
From an advocacy front, a number of organizations have taken on the responsibility of raising awareness around this topic. At the state-level, The Ohio Alliance for Arts Education was formed with the goals of improving the arts within the core curriculum, raising student achievement and promoting accessibility to arts-based educational programs. In addition to this Ohio-based resource, Cleveland also established the Cleveland Arts Education Consortium to provide a local network for arts education organizations and Center for Arts-Inspired Learning to connect local artists with area students.
Are you ready to take action? There are a number of ways that you can become involved in supporting arts education. Stay informed through Arts Cleveland’s email newsletter and subscribe to Arts Cleveland’s blog. Be on the lookout for new education initiatives forming within your local school district or within an arts and culture organization and share the message about the value of arts education in the public schools.
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