Why is arts learning so unique in its impact?

Nurturing creativity through arts education develops skills and attributes that cannot be replicated through other experiences. Children who are sequentially educated in the arts have a better chance of becoming innovative, critical thinkers who are comfortable adapting from mistakes.

A standard, Pre-K-12 curriculum that includes arts education fosters well-rounded graduates who enter college and the workforce with creative skills and a competitive edge.

Arts learning is essential to student success.

What the research tells us….

In the Conference Board report, Ready to Innovate (2008), when asked to name the educational experiences that are indicators of creativity, school superintendents ranked arts study as the highest indicator of creativity. But there has been a gap between understanding this need for creative learning and putting it into meaningful practice.

This year, IBM commissioned a Global CEO Study in which they interviewed over 1500 CEOs, from large and small companies in 60 countries, representing 33 different industries.  They asked these CEOs what is the most important leadership competency needed to manage in an increasingly complex world.  The top answer, by far:  CREATIVITY.

The arts don’t own creativity, but they support and nurture it in unique and important ways.  By including the arts, schools can ensure that students get a balanced and well-rounded education that addresses their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth.

For more than a decade, credible research has been available that demonstrates consistently better outcomes for students highly involved in the arts: better grades, less likelihood of dropping out, and more positive attitudes about school. The studies also show that the benefits of high levels of arts participation makes the greatest difference for economically disadvantaged students.

As a matter of social justice, we need to make sure that this benefit is provided to all students, not just those who can afford it. Together, our efforts will ensure that all students receive the benefits of arts learning: learning that is rigorous, relevant and relationship-based.

We recommend Critical Evidence as a must-read summary of the top research.

Read more on our Research page.

This was posted in the category Q&A's.
  • It’s a win for every student and every school!

    State Board of Education Approves Increased Arts Requirements for High School Graduation The Board’s decision helped culminate a week-long national celebration of the arts, as schools, students, and communities [...]

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  • Check out Art Lessons in the Classroom

    ArtsEd Washington developed Art Lessons in the Classroom to provide visual art curriculum for elementary schools that is aligned with Washington state standards.This comprehensive and sequential visual arts curriculum provides an excellent foundation in visual arts concepts.

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  • Closing the Gap:

    The Vital Connection Between Equitable Arts Provision & Student Success

    A peer forum for principals, assistant principals, and district administrators/elected leaders

    Presented by

    ArtsEd Washington (Principals Arts Leadership Program) &

    the Association of Washington School Principals

    Date: Tuesday, April 21     Time: 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm

    Location: Cornish Playhouse (Seattle Center) | 201 Mercer Street | Seattle, WA 98109

    Contact: Laurie Utterback | (206) 441-4501


    Principals and educational leaders won’t want to miss this compelling opportunity in two back-to-back events to explore an engaging (and effective) path to student and school success through the arts. (Continuing Education Clock Hours available for both events.)

    In the context of an increasingly complex K-12 landscape, where new testing and assessment models mean high demands and high stakes for educators, it can be tempting to push the arts to the sidelines. And yet, the arts–which are a core subject and part of the state definition of basic education–are a powerful tool to help both your students and your school achieve success.

    The arts teach students vital 21st-century skills such as: how to think critically and solve problems; how to observe and synthesize different pieces of information, ideas, and abstract concepts; and how to apply them in new, real-world ways. And effective arts integration can deepen students’ learning and understanding of concepts across every other academic subject as well. As our state adopts new learning standards and the new Smarter Balanced assessments, there has been a shift to a greater emphasis on this kind of deeper learning and understanding. Indeed, the arts can be one of your most valuable tools in meeting many of the goals you have for your students and school, including student engagement and increased attendance.

    Join us for a dynamic exploration of how closing the opportunity gap can help close the achievement gap. This event is a “leadership only” pre-workshop to the evening public lecture, CounterpARTS in Education: The Andrea Allen Memorial Lecture Series featuring Dr. Linda Nathan.


    During the afternoon workshop, participants will:

    • Develop a deeper understanding of how inequities in provision of arts learning correlate to a growing achievement gap.
    • Explore the Creative Advantage, a unique model to reinvest in student success through the arts, with Seattle Public Schools’ Carri Campbell and Gail Selhorst.
    • Discover real-world examples of effective arts integration to teach cross-curricular concepts in two workshops: a theatre and language arts lesson from Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE, and a visual art lesson aligned with Common Core math standards, led by art educator Carl Clausen.
    • Walk away with concrete ideas about how to close the achievement gap by closing the provision gap, and ready-to-use ideas to bring engaging, arts-integrated learning experiences into the classroom.


    Enjoy dinner on your own at one of the area’s many delicious restaurants or at the Seattle Center’s Armory. Then join us for ArtsEd Washington’s annual CounterpARTS in Education event featuring a premier thought leader in educational reform with over 3 decades of experience leading urban, bilingual schools to success through the arts.

    Why Arts?
    Confronting Issues of Race, Access, and Equity


    Dr. Linda Nathan

    Dr. Nathan will then join a panel with local Washington educators Gil Mendoza, Deputy Superintendent, OSPI, and Keisha Scarlett, Principals Leadership Coach and Former PAL Principal, Seattle Public Schools

    7:30 PM | Seattle Repertory Theatre (Seattle Center)

    Read more about CounterpARTS in Education and Dr. Linda Nathan here.

    Continuing Education Clock Hours available when you register for both the Principals Forum and CounterpARTS. Standard registration for the Principals Forum includes discounted admission to CounterpARTS in Education evening lecture.

    Standard Registration: $70 for afternoon workshop and evening lecture

    Afternoon Workshop Only (no lecture admission): $60

    Discounts available for principals and staff of ArtsEd Washington Member Schools, subject to verification. Please email programs@artsedwashington.org to verify pricing and eligibility. Both the afternoon and the evening events take place on the Seattle Center campus with abundant parking and dining options available.


    Learn More →