Arts Education: Motivations, Benefits and Realities of Educational Programs from the Perspective of Professional Arts Organizations


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Virginia Tech


In 1880, the 46th US Congress requested the first federal study of the state of arts education. A two-volume report, of almost 2,000 pages, was written by Issac Edwards Clarke and submitted in 1885. Titled Art and Industry: Education in the Industrial and Fine Arts in the United States, it stated, "The wide spread interest and activity [of the arts] gives promise of an important development in the art productions of the United States."

Now, over a century later, the expansion of arts continues. A most recent development is the growth of arts education programs within professional producing/presenting organizations.

The purpose of this study is to understand the motivations, benefits and realities of educational programs from the perspective of a professional producing/presenting arts organization. More specifically, what has enticed these organizations to create and sustain educational programs? Are these programs viewed as an extension of outreach, or as a program to serve their mission, or for reasons unstated?

Research was collected in Charlotte, NC, a community with diverse arts organizations, many of whom support educational programs. The school district also has a strong arts education programming. Nine arts organizations and three supporting organizations were selected for direct interviews. Each interview was conducted in the same manner, based on five questions.

This research reveals that arts organizations are proactive and have created valuable educational experiences for their community, but many organizations are doing a disservice to their core beliefs by not defining the value the educational program provides for the organization.



partnerships, schools, non-profit