Benefits of Arts Education for At-Risk Youth

Apr 23, 2012
New NEA Research Report Shows Potential Benefits of Arts Education for At-Risk Youth

April 23, 2012 - The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a new report on March 30th, 2012, entitled, "The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies."  The Congressional Arts Caucus commends the NEA in their multi-year studies examining the academic and civic behavior outcomes of teenagers and young adults who have engaged deeply with the arts in or out of school.  This report is just the latest installment of NEA’s efforts to conduct and commission research that examines evidence of the value and impact of the arts in other domains of American life, such as education, health and well-being, community liveability, and economic prosperity.  The Congressional Arts Caucus staff and the non-profit arts advocacy organization, the Creative Coalition, are set to discuss the findings of this report at a briefing on April 27th, 2012.

Among the findings, researchers James S. Catterall, University of California Los Angeles, with Susan A. Dumais, Louisiana State University, and Gillian Hampden-Thompson, University of York, U.K. made these key findings (full report here):

Better academic outcomes -- Teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic (SES) status who have a history of in-depth arts involvement ("high arts") show better academic outcomes than low-SES youth with less arts involvement ("low arts"). They earn better grades and have higher rates of college enrollment and attainment.

Higher career goals -- There is a marked difference between the career aspirations of young adults with and without arts backgrounds.

More civically engaged - Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not, with comparatively high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement with local or school politics. In many cases, this difference appears in both low-and high-SES groups.

The NEA has provided grants in every Congressional District to meet it's Congressional mandate to develop and promote a broadly conceived national policy of support for  the arts in the United States, and for institutions which preserve the cultural heritage of the United States.  Since 1965 the NEA has awarded more than 135,000 grants that have been distributed to all states to meet this goal.