Preserving The Arts In Education

As a result of the struggling global economy, budgets are being tightened across the country from businesses and households to state, city and county governments.

In many of our nations public schools, trimming the budget means cutting arts education. In many cases classes in the arts, whether these be music, visual arts, drama or painting, have been relegated to extracurricular status, especially in rural areas where the arts are all too often viewed as frivolous or irrelevant. Additional fees are required for participation in the arts making it less accessible to lower income children who need ways to communicate feelings, explore new ideas, and be inspired by the arts.

It is vital for your success and survival as a singer, musician, or singer-songwriter to do what you can to see that the arts thrive in your schools. Education represents a vital circle of connection for your community by keeping doors of communication open and encouraging creative self-expression. The arts can serve to uplift and build bridges of understanding within a community.

Study For Arts Integration

In many of our nation’s schools there is a movement to make arts education part of the core curriculum. In a 2005 study a national poll was developed in consultation with Douglas Gould & Company and conducted by opinion research firm Belden, Russonello & Stewart. The survey sampled 1068 Americans, age 18 and over, including an over-sample of 152 parents of children K-12.

The study concluded that support for arts integration in schools increases with more information about how it art functions. At the end of the survey, there was an increase of 12 percentage points among those who believe arts integration is an extremely high or high priority. Increased support for integrating arts education in schools from the beginning of the survey to the end of the survey was noted to be even higher among African-Americans (+24 percent) and Hispanics (+17 percent) that participated in the study.

41 percent of those surveyed said that arts integration is valuable because it educates the
whole child. On a scale of one to 10, arts and music as a high priority for public schools curriculum rated a seven through 10 by 60 percent of those surveyed. Arts and music is given a higher priority in public schools than standardized tests (56 percent), athletics (52 percent) and foreign languages (48 percent).

Impact of the Arts On Society

Think about the times that you may have learn songs about a culture or event related to history. It provided a connection to a time and place and a people. It may have stirred your imagination or piqued your curiosity to learn more about that time and its people.

One of the richest periods of success for our nation’s entertainment industry was the Great Depression. It’s the time when motion pictures began to come into their own as a viable force for entertainment but also for bringing people together, to lift up their spirits, help them forget their struggles, to pull together and move forward.

The arts are a viable force in creativity, ingenuity, inspiration, consolation, and connection. The arts can be used to encourage reading and language skills – think of reading and learning lyrics, for example. It can be used to engage math skills – music has mathematical patterns at its core in rhythms, measures, and relationships between notes and chords. Music can help to reinforce social skills through its use of harmonies, sharing of ideas and mixing of cultures. The arts provide freedom of expression and offers a social forum through arts appreciation, galleries, theatres, parties, and community events.

What You Can Do

Contact your local schools, board of education, and other community resources for ways in which you can bring your gifts as a singer, actor, singer-songwriter, or musician to the classroom. Look for ways to get young children engaged in the arts and take what transpires on the road in your community to places such as retirement homes, hospitals, community centers – any place you can think of where music and other arts can be shared to uplift, encourage, engage, and connect.

Your community is the closest circle of connection you have for building your career and setting in motion the positive impact you will have on the world as an artist. Visit www.keepartsinschools.org for more information on the impact that the arts has on education and what you can do to keep the arts alive in our schools.