by Lisa Cadigan
As we approach the end of another school year, the Adams County Arts Council is excited to launch our fourth annual Arts Benefit Children (ABC) campaign. Be sure to join us for our 50/50 campaign beginning Tuesday, April 25 and continuing through Thursday, April 27 to raise critical funds for summer camp and class scholarships to benefit disadvantaged youth. Every three $50 donations collected during this 50-hour period will send a child to a summer arts camp.
Why is arts education so important?
In February of this year, non-profit organization Americans for the Arts published an informative and motivating Top Ten List of Reasons to Support the Arts (Cohen 2017). The list includes a variety of positive outcomes not limited to benefits to health care, improved academic performance, and a stronger economy.
In previous years, the organization has shared the following findings specifically regarding the arts in education:
- Arts education “makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has been proven to help level the “learning field” across socio-economic boundaries.”
- Arts education strengthens student problem-solving and critical thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
- And arts education can help troubled youth, providing an alternative to destructive behavior and another way for students to approach learning.
Young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full year are:
- 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
- 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
- 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
Young artists, as compared with their peers, are likely to:
- Read for pleasure nearly twice as often
- Perform community service more than four times as often (Hendricks, 2014)
Anecdotally, we all have experiences that verify these claims in our own lives. Why then does it always seem to be such a struggle to keep the arts afloat financially? Lois Hetland, professor and graduate coordinator in the art education department at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and senior research affiliate at Project Zero in the Harvard Graduate School of Education, agrees that while these correlations exist, research is inconclusive as to whether these positive outcomes are based on a direct cause and effect relationship. That said, she also doesn’t think this is where we should be placing our focus: “There are more effective ways to advocate for arts education than to rely on the glacially slow emergence of new research in this area,” she says. It is more effective to advocate for arts education as “arts for our sake,” rather than art for “instrumental purposes” vs. “arts for art’s sake.” In an interview published in Phi Delta Kappan magazine, she reminds us that “…the arts are essential tools for thinking and communicating…The arts have been created and appreciated in every culture dating back to the earliest days of homo sapiens, suggesting they are part of our basic human equipment, allowing us to express things that can’t be expressed otherwise.” As such they are equally important to other disciplines taught in school – not more important, not less important, not solely for the purpose of supporting other areas of academics, but for the purpose of allowing people to “connect the rational with the intuitive, the brain and the body…It allows (people) to express a sense of the whole human being” (Heller, 2017).
This year, the ABC campaign features local educators and administrators and their views on the importance of arts education. As we prepared interviews with these dedicated professionals, the theme of the importance of educating “the whole child” was common.
Please enjoy the next few days of articles, share them with your social networks, and consider broadening the life experience of a young person by donating toward this year’s scholarship fund. It’s as easy as A-B-C:
A. Starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 25, visit https://adamsarts.org/sponsorship and make your donation. Every three $50 donations sends one child to a summer art camp, but every dollar counts and no donation is too small.
B. Share and tweet this information with your friends on all of your social networks. We will be sharing blog posts and stories throughout the event, so there will be many opportunities to help us spread the word and invite your friends to participate.
C. Be sure to watch our progress online! We will update ACAC’s sponsorship page and social media outlets regularly throughout the 50-hour period to let you know how we’re doing. The event begins at 8 AM on April 25, and ends at 10 AM on April 27. Don’t miss out on this amazing and fun opportunity to help a child access the arts.
Cohen, Randy I. “Top Ten Reasons to Support the Arts in 2017.”Blog.americansforthearts.org. Americans for the Arts, 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 21 Apr. 2017. <http://blog.americansforthearts.org/2017/02/14/top-10-reasons-to-support-the-arts-in-2017>.
Heller, Rafael. “On the Goals and Outcomes of Arts Education: An Interview with Lois Hetland.” Phi Beta Kappan 98.7 (2017): 15-20. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.
Hendricks, Karen. “The ABCs of Arts Education.” Blog post. Adamsarts.org. Adams County Arts Council, 14 May 2014. Web. 21 Apr. 2017. <https://adamsarts.org/the-a-b-cs-of-arts-education/>.