This summary of two Wallace-commissioned studies, both conducted by the RAND Corporation, examines efforts to rebuild arts learning for children in urban areas. According to Cultivating Demand for the Arts: Arts Learning, Arts Engagement and State Arts Policy, individuals who experience and learn about the arts at a young age are likelier to reap the benefits of the arts over their lifetimes. Unfortunately, as arts learning opportunities have dwindled over the last 30 years, both in school and outside, so has demand for the arts. Increasing the quality of and access to arts learning opportunities, then, is proposed as a vital element in lifting long-term arts demand.

Revitalizing Arts Education Through Community-Wide Coordination explores new approaches to arts education involving the formation of networks across schools, arts organizations, community-based organiza¬tions, government agencies and funders. The report describes six cities or metro areas where such coordination is taking hold: Alameda County, Calif. (which includes Oakland and Berkeley); Boston; Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles County; and New York City. Features of the coordinated approaches typically include a set of shared goals and clear outcomes, a feasible plan based on data and progress benchmarks, and clear, consistent communication to sustain public support. While such efforts are vulnerable to policy and political changes, the report finds that many of the sites studied “appear to be making head¬way” in reversing the long-standing erosion of arts education.

 Points of Interest

  • A 2008 survey found that, since the 2001-02 school year, 16 percent of a representative sample of 349 districts nationwide cut the average amount of time elementary students spend per week on art and music by 35 percent—from 154 minutes to 100.
    2008 study: 16% of 349 school districts cut weekly time elem students spend on #art and/or #music 35% over 7 years.
  • “Unless the young develop an interest in the arts and learn to respond to the ‘language’ of different artistic disciplines, they are not likely to become members of the adult arts audience,” says a RAND Corporation report.
    Want adults who love the #arts? Get them hooked on #arts and #music when they’re children. #education
  • Improving access to and quality of arts learning first requires conducting audits of what exists by school, neighborhood or region and then making equitable access to arts learning a priority to help counteract the emphasis on tests scores.
    1st step in ramping up #arts #education: find out what’s already happening in #schools, neighborhoods, regions.