Does Performing Arts Education Really Matter?

The short answer to the question “Does performing arts education really matter?” is a resounding “Yes.”

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We wouldn’t be saying anything new by stating that there are strong, distinct correlations between an education in the creative arts and students’ ability to succeed in school, life and (eventually) the workforce. There has been an increasing amount of proof that this correlation exists, and yet we are still witnessing cuts and the ultimate downsizing and deterioration of arts programs in school across the North American continent.

A recent Harris Poll of 2,286 adults surveyed online between May 14 and 19, 2014 revealed that an increasing number of Americans believe that music education prepares people for their future careers. Here are just a few of the statistics that this poll revealed:

  • 71% of Americans think that learnings and habits from music education equip people to be better team players in their careers
  • 67% of Americans agree that learnings and habits from music education provide you with a disciplined approach to solving problems
  • 66% of Americans believe that learnings and habits from music education prepare someone to manage the tasks of their job more successfully

An older Harris Poll conducted in May 2005 (commissioned by Americans for the Arts) revealed American’s beliefs about arts education on a much broader spectrum:

  • 93% of Americans believe that the arts are essential to a complete education
  • 79% of Americans feel that arts should be a priority in education reform
  • 79% of Americans consider issues facing arts education to be significant enough to merit their personally taking action

So, what exactly are the benefits of an education in the arts?

Let’s break it down into a few different categories.

Academic Success:

  • Arts education (especially drama) boosts literacy and English Language Arts skills.
  • Arts education (especially music) advances math achievement by helping to facilitate a mastery of estimation skills and computation.
  • Arts education helps to develop vital skills such as comparing, hypothesizing, critiquing and exploring multiple viewpoints, all of which are used in critical thinking processes.
CC Image by Lauren Manning
CC Image by Lauren Manning

Personal Success:

  • Arts education helps students to develop and refine their abilities for perseverance. Students involved in an arts program are more likely to turn barriers into opportunities, sustain attention for extended periods of time, and overcome difficulties while completing complex tasks.
  • Arts education also helps students to prepare for an increasingly diverse world through the fostering of pro-social behaviors and increasing social tolerance.
CC Image by Hugo Chisholm
CC Image by Hugo Chisholm

Workplace Success:

  • Those with an education in the arts are more likely to approach problems with patience and persistence.
  • An education in the arts also encourages people to learn to clearly articulate their intentions, receive and offer constructive criticism, develop active listening skills, and work as a team to achieve common goals.
  • Through arts education people are more likely to develop a strong sense of identity, as well as a confidence in their ability to affect the world around them.

“Perhaps now more than ever – as the country becomes increasingly diverse, the world more interconnected, and the workplace more oriented around technology and creativity – arts education is key to such a system and to ensuring students’ success in school, work, and life.” – Arts Education Partnership

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We couldn’t agree more.

For more information on the benefits of arts education, please refer to Arts Education Partnership’s ‘Preparing Students for the Next America’, American Alliance for Theatre & Education’s ‘The Effects of Theatre Education’ and Arts Education in Maryland School Alliance’s ‘Making the Connection Between Arts Education and Current Research.’



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