With school districts across the nation failing to include arts instruction as part of their curricula, many cultural and arts organizations have decided to step in to fill this gap by providing arts education programs for nearby schools.
These amazing organizations have taken action to ensure that our children have at least some exposure to the arts. However, could these activities actually be detrimental to the long-term sustainability of in-school arts programs?
For instance, the prestige of a regional organization might lull a principal or school board into thinking that a part-time program is sufficient and they no longer need to hire a full-time arts instructor.
While organizations may be aiming to enrich a student’s education, are they also helping schools justify their choice to eradicate arts instruction?
What is an arts organization to do? What role should they have in arts education? They wield enormous power, which if used correctly can be very effective in supporting a child’s artistic education. But how should they go about catalyzing arts education reform?
Should they limit their enrichment services to schools that already have an arts program in place? If they do this, then how could they justify leaving some children without any arts instruction at all? Should they spend time lobbying school leaders to hire arts teachers? Moreover, should we expect them to get involved in this battle at all?
Arts organizations are undoubtedly invested in the issue of arts education, but what responsibility do they truly have in helping to make arts instruction sustainable for our nation’s schools?