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Arts Education in Schools and Museums: What's Out There?

Two arts education reports released last week highlight the variability in how schools and informal-learning environments address the arts across the country. 

South Arts, a nonprofit arts organization that works with nine Southern states, surveyed 4,400 K-12 principals about the status of arts education in their schools.

The study found that, as in the rest of the nation, schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee were more likely to offer music classes (80 percent) and visual art classes (71 percent) than theater (22 percent) and dance (14 percent). Students in the South, overall, have less access to visual art and music than students nationally, the report states.

About half of schools offer arts field trips, and a quarter have after-school arts programs. Just 5 percent of schools surveyed "offer no arts education whatsoever," according to the report. 

The study breaks down the findings by state and by elementary, middle, and high school. 

southarts report 5.2014 chart.JPGIt also includes case studies of exemplary dance, visual art, drama, and music programs in schools. Among other patterns, the study found that high-quality programs "not only provide knowledge and skill in the arts, but also expose students to the practice and working world of professionals who use those skills outside the school."

The Association of Art Museum Directors published an arts education report last week as well—although it featured case studies only. The membership group provides summaries of 100 forward-thinking programs based in art museums.

The programs run the gamut—from art-discussion dinner parties for teens to spoken-word classes to crowd-sourced photography exhibits. The report is worth a gander if you're interested in what museums can and do offer young artists (though keep in mind that all the programs that submitted entries were included).

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