Can This Organization Revitalize Arts Education in America?

We can all agree on the basics surrounding arts education. It can transform young lives, provide kids with the analytical and critical-thinking skills to thrive in adulthood, and stir the imagination. But as schools continue to scale back arts funding across the country, we're beginning to think that logic is a bit myopic. Perhaps we should be framing the benefits of arts education on a far wider scale.

We're beginning to see more and more research pointing to the fact that arts education can transform societies as a whole. Arts education increases employment rates by raising high school graduation rates. And students who have had arts education are more likely to hold onto jobs once they get them.

But it isn't a problem to come up with powerful data speaking to the importance of arts education. Rather, much like varying political factions need to unite behind a larger lobbying entity, proponents of arts education need speak with one voice to support their overarching goal, which is restoring and expanding arts education funding across the country.

Enter Young Audiences Arts for Learning, the New York City-based proponent of arts education. The organization operates like a think tank, broadening the canvas surrounding arts education to ask deeper and more impactful questions like:

  • Can we raise awareness of the importance of the arts to identify potential funders, board members, and cheerleaders?
  • How can a sustained partnership bring lasting change to a disadvantaged urban school?
  • How can schools make a systematic cultural shift to value and create arts integration experiences to promote learning?

It puts those words into action, spreading its tentacles across the country to translate theory into practice. For example, the affiliate Arts for Learning Connecticut has developed a new program called Arts Partners Schools Initiative, which aims to partner with schools in Connecticut to provide professional development for their teachers.

Then there's the Emerging Artist’s Creativity Hub, a program sponsored by Young Audiences New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, established with the goal of helping young people acquire knowledge, understanding, and skills in the arts.

Donors are responding in kind. The billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller gave the organization $250,000 last year and it's easy to see why. Young Audiences Arts for Learning realizes that supporting arts education means more than just asking for more money for arts education. It means driving profound paradigm shifts in how we view, value, and promote arts education, along with discovering innovative ways to effectively teach the arts.