Across the nation there are thousands of individuals running for public office – from the state legislator to the President of the United States.  As summer gears up and you prepare for picnics, community parties, and neighborhood gatherings, now is a great time to be an arts education advocate and to ask your local candidates what their position is on the provision of arts education for all students.

It is imperative that candidates hear about the importance of arts in our schools from a wide range of people: parents, business leaders, educators, students, community members, (including those without children in the schools). Start your conversation by saying who you are, and give a clear, concise reason for why you care.  If you are part of a larger group, mention your group and the number of members in the candidate’s area.

Use our talking points to launch your conversation:

I’m [your name], and I’m a [your role] at [name of school/organization you represent].  I’m hoping to ask you a few questions regarding arts education…

  • Arts education is not an optional enrichment activity.  It is a core subject and part of a complete education as defined by the Basic Education Act.  Despite this, ¾ of elementary students receive only two hours of arts instruction each week^.  What is your reaction to this void in basic education for the majority of elementary students in our state?

  • Data from two separate studies** reveals that students who come from low socio-economic backgrounds are the least likely to receive high quality arts instruction, yet they are the population with the most to gain from an arts-inclusive education.  What are your plans to address this vast equity gap?

  • With creativity being named the most important leadership skill by CEOs* across the world, how do you plan to actually provide the arts as part of a basic and complete education for every student in Washington state?

  • As a leader in our community, you understand the importance of preparing our future leaders with the tools, knowledge, and creative thinking skills necessary to navigate and lead our ever-changing, ever-advancing world.  Tomorrow’s leaders are today’s students, and we must provide them with a complete education – one that includes the arts. How will you work towards this goal once in office?

I’d be happy to send you more information on the importance of arts education, and to introduce you to the work of ArtsEd Washington, an organization that can be a resource for you as a leader for arts education.  May I follow up with you on this topic in an email?

And there you have it!  A specific and quick conversation with your local candidates can be very insightful for you as a voter, informative for the candidate, and valuable for both of you.

We encourage you to share this advocacy opportunity far and wide with your community, and hope it inspires you to get out there this summer and articulate your expectations for the arts to those who hope to lead our communities for the next four years.

Questions?  Contact us at

^Arts Education Research Initiative: K-12 Arts Education: Every Student, Every School, Every Year, 2009.  Washington State Arts Commission.
*IBM 2010 Global CEO Study: Creativity Selected as Most Crucial Factor for Future Success, 2010.  IBM.
**NEA Research Report: The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth, 2012.  National Endowment for the Arts.
**US Department of Education: Arts Education in Public Elementary & Secondary Schools, 2012.  US Department of Education.