Bringing Education to After-School Programs - Summer 1999

A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

The Arts and After-School Programs

Background. Research shows that the arts help children build both basic and advanced thinking skills, and instruct children in diverse modes of thinking and learning. The knowledge and skills that students develop in learning to respond to, perform and create works of arts constitute a fundamental form of literacy students must have if they are to communicate successfully and function in todays new media and information society.

A quality arts education can help students develop the four C's:

Because an arts education develops a diverse range of cognitive abilities, it helps teachers promote achievement across disciplines, as well as in an arts discipline, fostering the development of spatial, mathematical, logical and physical abilities.

How to integrate the arts into after-school programs. The goal of many communities is to have every student have the opportunity to learn about art, music, and drama in the elementary, middle, and high school years, which is very much in line with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program?s goals of providing a variety of academic and enrichment activities to students and parents in the communities which they serve. Examples of how your Center can help include:

The arts education community has several existing community partnerships that successfully blend the community resources of local museums, theaters, symphonies, dance troupes and arts programs with before- and after-school programming. Some examples of successful community partnerships include: The Atlanta Historical Centers partnership with the Boys and Girls Club in Atlanta, Georgia; the Flint Cultural Center, comprising eight cultural organizations including a museum and concert hall, and its partnerships with the Flint, Michigan community; and the Please Touch Me Museum, the only museum designed for children ages one to seven, and its partnerships with more than 20 community organizations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



As you think about organizing and implementing your after-school program with an emphasis in the arts, some materials available on the U.S. Department of Education?s website at or the Arts Education Partnership website at can be useful to you, including:

  • Good Schools Require the Arts. To request a copy of the publication, call the Arts Education Partnership at (202) 326-8693, fax to (202) 408-8076 or email
  • Young Children and the Arts: Making Creative Connections. To request a copy of the publication, call the Arts Education Partnership at (202) 326-8693, fax to (202) 408-8076 or email
  • Coming Up Taller: Arts and Humanities Programs for Children and Youth At Risk. To request a copy of the publication, call the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities at (202) 682-5409 or fax to (202) 682-5668.


U.S. Department of Education and National Endowment for the Arts initiatives. The arts education community has many opportunities to support the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative and other after-school opportunities by creating a cultural-community-school" partnerships to improve the quality of learning in the arts and provide students with the skills they will need to succeed in the 21st century. Some of the ways that members of the arts community can use federal resources to develop partnerships between schools and community arts partners are listed below:

The enactment of the bipartisan Goals 2000: Educate America Act of 1994 recognized the arts as a core area of study in which American children are expected to achieve competency. In response to this challenge, The Arts Education Partnership, a coalition of education, arts, business and funding organizations, is committed to improving the quality of American schools by promoting the arts as a way to help all students achieve high levels of academic, personal and career success.

The U.S. Department of Education's recent national teleconference, Arts Literacy for a Changing America," underscored the importance of arts education for the future of our children. The teleconference also focused on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report released by the National Center for Education Statistics that found that most American children infrequently or never receive serious instruction or performance opportunities in music, the arts, dance or theater. For more information or to order a copy of the video, visit

The Arts Education Partnership, formed in 1995 through a cooperative agreement between the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and the Council of Chief State School Officers, helps states and local school districts integrate the arts into their educational improvement plans and initiatives, such as after-school programming. More than 140 national organizations have joined the Arts Education Partnership to affirm the arts as fundamental to quality education, and to help identify ways that the arts can become a central component of state and local education reform. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers and other after-school programs that focus on the arts represent a fertile education reform area for members of the arts community.

The "Coming Up Taller" awards program, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, recently recognized some of the outstanding after-school, weekend, and summer programs for children from at-risk communities. Background information on the recipients of this award, as well as nomination criteria, is available by visiting

Contact and Other Sources of Information:

For more information, contact

Andy Finch, Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs

Phone: (202) 401-3292


Fax: 202/205-9133

Contact and Other Sources of Information

For more information, contact:

Judith Weitz, President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, (202) 682-5409.
Richard Deasey, Goals 2000 Arts Education Partnership, (202) 326-8683


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Last Updated -- November 2, 1999, (pjk)