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Studies on Arts Examine Turnouts, Impact in Schools

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) , November 18, 2005


Separate studies released this week urge arts groups to examine ways to reinforce the importance of arts in schools and to increase attendance at arts events.

"Third Space/When Learning Matters," a study released by the Arts Education Partnership, reinforces the integration of arts studies and practices in curricula. This study focused on how arts-influenced curricula worked in 10 American schools serving mostly students from poor families, including Cleveland's Newton D. Baker School of Arts, a West Side magnet school for kindergarten through fifth grade.

Researchers observed that incorporating arts-based approaches in classroom activities increased self-esteem, self-expression, interest in school and engagement with others and developed critical thinking and problem solving.

The study also found arts created more opportunities for intellectual and emotional exploration, promoted schoolwide communication and collaboration and increased parental involvement and teacher creativity.

Most significant, the study found the changed atmosphere of the schools - from a passive one of conformist, rote learning and testing to one rich in creativity, individual thought, personal development and collaboration - prepared students in a larger way for their roles as adults.

An Urban Institute study, "Motivation Matters," found that arts organizations can best build audiences by persuading visitors to come more often, rather than trying to woo a wider range of one-time or infrequent visitors. People who frequently attend arts events are likelier to become donors.

The study also found that people attend different types of arts events for different reasons. For instance, 68 percent of theatergoers surveyed said they attended plays as a way of socializing. Only 36 percent said they went to the theater to gain knowledge. By contrast, 65 percent of those who went to museums said they did so because they strongly desired to learn something new.

Venue also has an effect: Certain venues, such as clubs, restaurants and coffeehouses, drew far more frequent arts-goers than other settings.

Subjects Covered: education

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