Arts education seen boosting audiences

Policymakers looking to build up the nonprofit arts sector should focus on promoting arts education, a new study says.

“For decades, public funding of the arts has focused on building supply and expanding access to the arts, but it has neglected the cultivation of audiences capable of appreciating the arts,” says Laura Zakaras, report co-author and arts researcher at RAND, the nonprofit research organization that conducted the study for the Wallace Foundation.

Visual arts, opera, jazz and theater have seen a decline in audiences, especially among people 30 and younger.

State, local and district school systems are not setting aside adequate time and resources for arts education, and No Child Left Behind has made the situation worse, the study says.

State arts agencies have devoted less than 10 percent of grants to initiatives promoting arts education.

Children who have not had long-term exposure to art are less likely to be able to create art, understand the historical and cultural relevance of art and draw meaning from works of art, says the study, titled “Cultivating Demand for the Arts: Arts Learning, Arts Engagement, and State Arts Policy.”

The Wallace Foundation is an independent foundation dedicated to sharing effective ideas and practices for improving student achievement and opportunities.

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