Art Education Facts

Compiling the

More and more, we at Americans for the Arts are talking about the transformative power of the arts, echoing the work that has happened at a local level in the arts across America for the past several decades. However, as I move more and more into the education space, I hear a call for the hard facts amongst the heart-warming stories. Education decision makers want to see results, they want to see change, and they want to draw a correlation between the two.

As a professional arts education advocate, I can keep up with most of these requests, but recently I found myself at a bit of a cross roads. I was in Los Angeles, speaking with a self-described ‘music education evangelist, ’ who was telling me all about some research that had been conducted on the impact of arts education on the cognitive functions of the brain. Arts Education, he said, could work to close the opportunity gap faster than other – more conventional – tactics.

I was blown away.

I basically know nothing about cognition or brain development (beyond 10th grade biology), so I instantly wanted to know more. In January, at the annual Winter Council Meeting of the Arts Education Advisory Council, I was affirmed in my curiosity when one of the ‘trending topics’ which the council identified was the growing pile of research on the topic of arts education and cognitive development.

One item which came up in discussion was the infographic published last year by the University of Florida, which demonstrated STEM vs. STEAM in the brain. I have a great amount of respect for this infographic, because it distils down a complex topic backed up by robust research into an easy-to-understand image for advocates, educators, or decision makers to use in their own specific ways.

I often converse with artists, educators, and education decision makers as advocates for arts education. We often discuss how to best make the case for arts education in any given community. To this, my standard response is, “Craft an effective personal advocacy campaign by combining robust data with a compelling story.” (Learn more by reading this e-book series!)

We have so much diverse data about the benefits of arts education (more in Facts & Figures. If you are thinking about the civic benefits of arts education, we have it. If you want to inform a decision maker about the academic benefits of arts education, we have it. What about the effects of arts education on school culture? Yup, got that, too.

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