The Arts Are Good For…

Last week, I attended events in Frankfort Kentucky for Arts Day 2010.  Even though the day turned out to bitterly cold, windy and snow- and ice-packed, a couple hundred of us die-hards showed to support the arts in education and in the daily lives of all Kentuckians. 

I served on a volunteer committee to help plan the day’s events. I put together the following points for a flyer to be distributed at the event and am happy to share in hopes that you will find them helpful in your local context.

The Arts are Good For…


  • Arts-rich schools teach to the whole child, taking in mind differences in learning styles and addressing the cognitive, social, and emotional domains of all learners.
  • Teaches students that there are multiple correct answers to many problems; asks them to apply creative thinking for possibilities to each challenge.
  • Helps students understand themselves as in control of their own learning experiences and outcomes, and able to craft effective solutions as individuals and in groups.
  • Builds a healthy self-esteem and provides them with outlets for creative expression though a learning atmosphere that is supportive and responsive
  • Helps them come to value their school experience; students actually want to come to school.


  • Provides them with valuable “aha” moments. They see their students in a different light, even helping them see exciting new potential in “problem” students based on observed new roles, involvement in learning and doing, and positive interactions with fellow students and teachers.
  • Helps them come to know more about their students’ interests and abilities based on what their students know and can do in creating, performing and responding to the arts.
  • Provides their students with multiple entry points for learning and helps them address content based on prior knowledge, experience and skills.
  • Creates a classroom learning environment that is charged with excitement and energy; challenges their students to learn through creative, real-world applications to problems.
  • New understanding and experiences required through the arts helps teachers see themselves as “learners” along with their students, often bringing a fresh approach to their instructional practice.


  • Helps reduce the achievement gap by reaching and teaching students in new ways, especially students from economically disadvantaged circumstances as well as those who find more language-based instruction difficult.
  • Helps create a teaching and learning culture that is charged with excitement and supportive and responsive to the learning needs of both teachers and students. 
  • Provides a continuous, fresh approach to teaching and learning.  Both faculty and students want to be at school.
  • Helps address the unique social, emotional and cognitive learning needs of problem students, who often thrive in supportive settings where they can address challenging content through creative new approaches.  The arts enable these kids to shine.
  • Provides multiple avenues for engaging the larger community and parents through activities and events that showcase their children and that are aimed at accomplishing larger community and parent engagement goals of the school.

References and Resources

Collaborative for Teaching and Learning, Louisville KY.
Ms. Lauren Stevenson, Arts Education Partnership, Washington DC.
Dr. Kimberly Sheridan, Harvard Project Zero, Cambridge MA. 
Dr. James Catterall, UCLA Graduate School of Education, Los Angeles CA.
Americans for the Arts, New York NY and Washington DC.

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