On May 2, 2018, we sent out invitations to a group of carefully selected schools and organizations, inviting them to apply for our first Mission-Focused Grant opportunity. The mission-focus for this grant is the performing arts.
Despite a consistent and growing mountain of evidence about the benefits of arts education, school systems continue to cut arts budgets. In an effort to improve scores on traditional standardized tests, scarce funding is predominantly put into the academic areas that will be measured. Test results are then used by many to judge the “success” of the school. Yet there is so much more to education.
Fortunately, there is plenty of longitudinal research to demonstrate the many benefits of a more well-rounded approach to education that includes a robust arts program. Here is just a sample of some of that research:
In a study conducted at Columbia University, research evidenced that subjects such as mathematics, science, and language require complex cognitive and creative capacities “typical of arts learning” (Burton, Horowitz, & Abeles, 1999). Concepts learned in art and music are helpful in other academic subjects.
In 2002, the National Governors Association issued a report showing that children who study the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, three times more likely to win an award for school attendance, and four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair.
In a report titled Preparing Students for the Next America, dated April 2013 from the Arts Education Partnership, it was found that:
- Students receiving an arts-rich education perform better on assessments of creativity than do students receiving little or no arts education.
- Students who study the arts score higher than their peers on tests measuring the ability to analyze information and solve complex problems and are more likely to approach problems with patience and persistence.
- An arts-rich education builds collaboration and communication skills.
- Experience in the arts develops leadership skills, including decision-making, strategy-building, planning, and reflection.
A book by Daniel Pink entitled A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the World is helpful in understanding why arts education is important for the workforce. The description of the book on Amazon is:
“The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic ‘right-brain’ thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t.”
It’s an interesting book. Pink talks about the importance of creativity and design and offers many stories and examples. He quotes Chris Bangle, the well-known Chief of Design at BMW at that time, saying “we don’t make cars, we make moving works of art that express the driver’s love of quality.” This takes more than just engineering skills.
The arts are also big business. Nationally, 673,656 businesses are involved in the creation or distribution of the arts, and they employ 3.48 million people (Americans for the Arts, The Creative Industries of the United States, 2017). This represents 4.01 percent of all U.S. businesses and 2.04 percent of all U.S. employees.
So when people ask us, “why the arts?” our answer is, “why not?” It just makes sense.
We’re excited to receive the grant applications for this first Mission-Focused Grant opportunity with a focus on the performing arts. We’ll announce the winning grantees in early September.