Arts4All Blog

The Importance of Art in Education

Posted July 24th, 2017  |  By A4A.admin

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According to a recent study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, California is falling behind the rest of the country in arts education standards. While California used to lead the nation in arts education, our numbers have dropped since the 1970s due to budget cuts and changing school priorities. This year’s study found that only a third of eighth graders in the Western U.S. took an art class last year and only 17% played in the school band, while in the Northeast, 70% of eighth graders were enrolled in music or art.

In addition to developing creativity and self-expression, the arts can help students progress in other academic subjects, build tolerance, and keep kids academically engaged! Here are a few reasons why the arts are crucial to a well-rounded education.

The arts help build literacy and critical thinking skills. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum conducted a study on their program that sends artists into local schools. Students who took part in the program did better than students who didn’t in six categories! By learning to describe art, speculate the meaning behind it, and read about the artists and styles, students improve their literacy and critical thinking skills.

Across art forms, exposure to the arts helps promote social and emotional learning. Whether visual arts, music, dance, or theatre, students who take an arts class show a motivation to grow their artistic skills and to learn and grow more generally in school. And, when students experience art from an early age, they show a significant increase in their empathy and tolerance for others. Source: William Penn Foundation Study


The arts help keep high-performing students engaged as they age. Students who score high in socioemotional development benefit from the arts as they get older. Studies have found that high-performing students who participate in the arts stay engaged in school as they age! However, students with the same high scores who did not benefit from an arts program lost motivation and engagement.

So, what can we do to bridge the gap? Many California schools work with nonprofits like CSMA to get arts in the classroom, while others focus on fundraising to support their arts budgets. The best thing you can do to advocate for the arts in your community is learn more about California’s arts landscape through the California Arts Council, research your local schools’ arts programs, contact your local representatives to let them know you care, and share your knowledge with others in the community!

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