WARREN, N.J. – March is widely known at “Arts in the Schools Month,” an annual celebration originally proclaimed by the U.S. Department of Education that showcases the accomplishments of students in dance, music, theatre and the visual arts nationwide.
All across New Jersey, schools will host their spring musicals, State and county Youth Art Month exhibitions will display exceptional student work, spring instrumental and vocal concerts are being held and dance recitals will be performed.
For New Jersey schools, there is much to celebrate this year. According to the latest findings by Arts ED NJ, more than one million students engage in the arts in New Jersey schools each year, with arts participation rising from 66 percent of all students in 2006 to 80 percent in 2017—an all-time high.
Moreover, 53 percent of high school students are now participating in the arts—up from 47 percent just four years ago.
Perhaps most encouraging are findings contained in the census report, ARTS ED NOW: Every Child, Every School released by Arts Ed NJ last September as part of the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project. The report revealed that 99 percent of New Jersey schools representing 99.4 percent of students provided arts education during the 2015/2016 school year.
“New Jersey continues to build its well-earned reputation as a national leader in arts education, hitting records for participation in all disciplines, including dance, music, theatre and visual art,” said Robert Morrison, co-director of Arts Ed NJ. “New Jersey is now reaching the point of ‘universal access’ to arts education, largely a result of our state’s thought leaders—school administrators, school board members and teachers—working in unison to ensure that we provide both the inspiration and infrastructure to achieve participation by all students.”
Morrison cautions that more work needs to be done, noting that there are still more than 80,000 elementary and middle school students who should be participating in the arts (based on state policies) that are not, as well as another 40,000 or so high school students who could also be participating that are not.
Moreover, when it comes to per-pupil arts spending and student/arts teacher ratios, the census revealed that both measures are more favorable in schools serving more affluent populations – something not found a decade ago.
Still, Morrison remains optimistic, buoyed by a Rutgers Eagleton Statewide Public Opinion Survey this past September that found that nine in 10 New Jersey residents say that receiving an education in the arts – which includes lessons in dance, music, theatre, visual arts, media arts, and other forms of creativity – is “very” or “somewhat” important in the classroom (90 percent), through before or after school programs (93 percent), and through cultural organizations in their community (89 percent).
“This is an equity issue of great importance, centered on the significant documented benefits provided through active participation in arts education,” said Morrison. “It’s important to note that arts education is for everyone, and while most student will go on to jobs outside of the arts they benefit greatly from the skills, knowledge and discipline they gain by being engaged in the arts. By working to engage all students with high-quality arts education across the state, we are giving our students more opportunities to use their voice of creativity and providing them skills that will help them be successful beyond high school.”
For more information on the state of Arts Education in New Jersey, please visit http://artsednj.org/2017-arts-education-census/
Individual school information may be found at https://artsednow.org/
Information about the 2017 Rutgers-Eagleton Public Opinion Survey on arts education may be downloaded at http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu/rutgers-eagleton-arts-education-nj-sept2017/
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About Arts Ed NJ
Arts Ed NJ is the unified voice for arts education in New Jersey. Formerly the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, Arts Ed NJ was founded in 2007 by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, New Jersey Department of Education and Music for All Foundation with additional support from the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation. The mission of Arts Ed NJ is to provide a unified voice for a diverse group of constituents who agree on the educational benefits and impact of the arts, specifically the contribution they make to student achievement and a civilized, sustainable society. Additional information is available at www.artsednj.org.
The New Jersey Arts Education Census Project is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey
State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the
Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Quadrant Research.
About Arts Ed Now
Arts Ed Now is a statewide campaign to increase active participation in arts education in all schools in New Jersey. Studies show that students who participate in arts education do better in school and in life. Unfortunately, not all NJ students have the access or information to increase their participation in arts education. The Arts Ed Now campaign identifies ways to increase participation in arts education and garner public support to put a spotlight on the issue - and is designed to be customized at a local grassroots level for more impact. The “Campaign Central” website https://artsednow.org features stories, tools and ways for citizens to become better ambassadors - together. This project is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Geraldine R Dodge Foundation, Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov