Arts education declining, especially for minority youth

A recent National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Survey of Public Participation in the Arts data reveals that 3 out of 4 Americans participate in the arts. This participation includes a full spectrum of artistic genres and participation via electronic media and personal arts creation. The good news is that US adults are participating in the arts in more ways than ever before; the bad news is that we are depriving children of the art education needed to maintain this.

According to the report, arts education is the leading factor in arts participation. No surprise there.

“Childhood arts education has a potentially stronger effect on arts attendance than age, race, or socioeconomic status. Long-term declines in childhood arts education have serious implications for the future of arts participation in America.

  • In addition to reporting higher arts-attendance rates, those who receive arts education as a child are more likely to create or perform art, engage with the arts via media, and take art classes as an adult.
  • In 1982, nearly two-thirds of 18-year-olds reported taking art classes in their childhood. By 2008, that share had dropped below one-half (2.6 million), a decline of 23 percent.
  • Declines in childhood arts education from 1982 to 2008 are much higher among African American and Hispanic children than among white children. In that timeframe, there was a 49 percent drop for African Americans, and a 40 percent drop for Hispanic children, compared with a statistically insignificant decline for white children.”

We are not serving these children – or this country – well.