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Increasing Access to Arts Education in Rural Areas

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Apr 20, 2017

A new working paper from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and authors Lisa Donovan and Maren Brown, examines how collective impact strategies could be employed to improve access to arts education in rural areas. The paper, entitled Leveraging Change: Increasing Access to Arts Education in Rural Areas, brings together research findings from a literature review, interviews, and data gathered at a pilot convening in western Massachusetts, all of which was funded by a 2015 NEA collective impact grant.

The paper focuses on the possibilities of increasing arts access in rural communities given the significant impediments. Some of the challenges identified include:

  • lack of economic opportunity
  • geographic distance
  • recruitment and retention of teachers and administrators
  • lack of funding for arts education
  • policies that do not support the arts
  • limited collection and analysis of data
  • lack of representation on creative economy initiatives


Given these barriers, the authors find that building strong, cross-sector networks will be vital for improving access to arts education. “We need to…really think about where our outcomes start to coincide with the outcomes that other [sectors] are working for in their own ways,” said Carlyn Burns, former director of Berkshire Children and Families.

Importantly, the report highlights rural networks that already exist which could be leveraged or replicated in order to support the arts.

You can read the full report here.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education. www.nationalguild.org