As the Executive Director of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit, I know first-hand the incredible benefits that the arts play in education. In celebration of National Arts in Education Week, I’d like to share with you some of the benefits of art education that you might not be aware of.

Students who are involved in the arts are:

·         4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair – which is why we believe that STEM should always be STEAM

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·         3 times more likely to win an award for attendance – art programs make kids want to go to school and participate

·         4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement – arts participation leads to improvements in brain function.

These benefits increase significantly for low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts. Compared to their peers without arts experience they:

·         Are more than twice as likely as their peers to graduate college.

·         Perform better on standardized achievement tests

·         Have higher test scores in science and writing.

The Art Center provides arts enrichment for underserved children and youth throughout Union County and our region. For example, each school year we bring more than 400 8th grade students from throughout the Elizabeth District to the Art Center for a guided tour followed by a hands-on art project. Half of these students report that the visit was their FIRST visit to an art museum.

The benefits of art education go well beyond school years. Today’s business leaders are emphasizing the need for creative thinking among their employees. In fact, 72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they look for when hiring new employees. A study from Michigan State University found that adults who were involved in arts as children are more likely to become an inventor or generate a patent.

Please join us in celebrating National Arts in Education Week.

Melanie Cohn
Executive Director
Visual Arts Center of New Jersey