Wyoming Arts Council

NEA Report: Declines in childhood arts education will have impact on the future of arts participation

The following conclusions were in National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Research Report #52, “Arts Education in America: What the Declines Mean for Arts Participation,” by Nick Rabkin and E.C. Hedberg, NORC at the University of Chicago. For full report, go to http://www.arts.gov/research/2008-SPPA-ArtsLearning.pdf:

Long-term declines in childhood arts education have serious implications for the future of arts participation in America

•  The relationship between arts education and adults’ rates of arts participation has been consistently strong throughout the survey’s history.

•  By 2008, only half of all 18-yearolds (49.5 percent, or 2.6 million) had received any arts education in childhood—a decline of 23 percent since 1982.

•  According to long-term patterns of respondent recall, a “turning point” in national access to arts education likely occurred in the mid-1970s and early 1980s.  It seems reasonable to infer that the national declines in arts education rates, reported from 1982 to 2008, resulted partly from cuts in school based arts instruction.

•  From 1982 to 2008, Hispanics and African Americans accounted for a highly disproportionate share of all adults who reported not having received arts education in childhood.
Here’s an April 9, 2010, quote from Arne Duncan, U.S. Department of Education Secretary:
“In America, we do not reserve arts education for privileged students or the elite. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds, students who are English language learners, and students with disabilities often do not get the enrichment experiences of affluent students anywhere except at school. President Obama recalls that when he was a child ‘you always had an art teacher and a music teacher. Even in the poorest school districts everyone had access to music and other arts.’ Today, sadly, that is no longer the case.”

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