Out-of-school-time arts programs in historically marginalized communities have much to teach policymakers, funders, and arts program leaders—as well as educators at large. Furthermore, the researchers of a paper in Arts Education Policy Review argue that the arts, and OST arts in particular, can help us reimagine ways to design learning environments that work for everyone, including our most vulnerable youth.

Researchers Erica Halverson, Kailea Saplan, Caitlin Martin and their team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison interviewed a number of OST arts program leaders and participants to ask them what they think works best in arts education.*

Four main categories of policy recommendations emerged out of this work:

  1. Focus on youth and community assets
  2. Expand beyond a program-centric model of funding and design
  3. Support creative professionals
  4. Rethink the design and implementation of assessment systems

Both the brief and the full paper break down the categories for four specific audiences: arts education leaders, funders, policymakers, and researchers. The findings could also have implications for others who work with young people and who are looking to expand educational equity by adapting some of the focused, caring, asset-based approaches of OST arts programs.

*The team interviewed 28 arts organization leaders; 17 educators/teaching artists; 8 researchers; 9 funders and policymakers; and 10 youth artists. Organization leaders and teaching artists were from OST arts programs in nonprofit and community arts organizations; museums; school-based programs with informal educators; government agencies; and philanthropic organizations. ​