Arts benefit public housing, study says

The availability of arts programs in public housing developments has made participants feel safer, more creative and proud of their accomplishments, but sustaining the programs is a challenge, a new report says.

The Creative Communities Initiative Summary Report provides an analysis of a three-year, $4.65 million partnership between the National Endowment of the Arts, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.

The effort provided arts education for more than 7,000 children and youth in public housing across the U.S. for an initial three-year period.

Virtually all participants reported they felt safe and accepted in their arts classes, the report says, and nine in 10 expressed interest in learning more about the arts.

More than three quarters of the children say they feel better able to express themselves artistically after participating.

While many sites reported behavioral problems among students, art teachers reported that more than seven in 10 children showed proper respect most of the time.

Sustainability of the programs beyond the three-year effort was a challenge, however, with one in three sites failing to create strategies to continue.

Ultimately, only one in four partnerships continued beyond the initial three years, the study says.

To aid in creating sustainable partnerships, the report recommends ensuring ongoing communication between partners; conducting program evaluations; providing support for the effort publicly; taking the time to get to know the communities being served; and understanding partners’ rules and regulations.

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