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In community settings throughout the United States, people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities participate in professionally led arts education programs that develop aesthetic knowledge and skills, foster personal development, and enhance quality of life. These programs do produce many successful artists. But their true aim is to awaken a spirit of creativity in everyone, whatever their level of ability or artistic potential.
Today, more than 7,000 nonprofit arts organizations and government agencies invite open access to classes, lessons, and workshops in dance, literary arts, media arts, music, theater, visual arts, and other disciplines. Many also provide learning and development through the arts with a focus on positive aging, youth development, community building, and other areas. In partnerships with organizations such as public schools, senior centers, and public agencies, they ensure the broadest possible access to arts education.
Research shows that high-quality instruction in the arts has many benefits for individuals and communities. When these programs are sustained and respond to community needs, they encourage cognitive development, increase creativity, improve self-esteem, and promote better health. Community arts education programs also build social capital, foster democratic decision making, advance economic growth, and generate a sense of shared culture and community belonging. They can add to or enrich K-12 education and serve as catalyst, convener, and conduit for innovative and collaborative community-wide and cross-sector alliances. When well coordinated, these alliances can leverage vital resources for arts education, create networks of support, and ensure that the arts learning needs and interests of all Americans--including young children, older adults, ESL students, learning-disabled students, and many others--are adequately addressed.
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This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education. www.nationalguild.org
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