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TeachArtsOhio teaching artist Candace Mazur Darman and students from Indianola Informal School during the Fancy Dress exhibition at Whetstone Library

National Arts in Education Month Is Here!

March is one of my favorite months of the year—it’s National Arts in Education Month—or, as we call it more colloquially, Arts in the Schools Month! Join the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) and Ohio Department of Education in celebrating the arts in schools all month long.

We know that a quality education that includes the arts provides skills and knowledge that every student needs to be successful in and out of school. Ohio’s arts education data tells a story of success for Ohio’s children. We have nearly 3,400 schools in Ohio with enrollment of about 1.7 million students. Only 44,027 of our schoolchildren are not enrolled in any arts courses. Our success rate is pretty good—unless your child is one of the 44,027. [1]

The Ohio Arts Education Data Dashboard enables parents, educators, school administrators, and policymakers to see what arts education is being offered in the schools and districts in Ohio. The dashboard also gives educators the ability to track trends.

To this end, the Ohio Arts Council, in partnership with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education and Ohio Department of Education, have produced the Ohio Arts Education Data Dashboard. Our data is strong, our stories are compelling, and our children are the reason for this important work that allows us to advocate for strong arts education programs in dance, drama/theatre, music, visual art, and media arts across the state. I encourage you to check out the Ohio Arts Education Data Dashboard—you can see statewide, district, and school-level data. (For a brief primer on how to navigate the dashboard, watch this short video tutorial)

Arts education is critical and fundamental to achieving the OAC’s mission. It has been—and remains—a historic priority of the agency with dedicated grant programs and funding. Simply put, the arts strengthen education and are an essential curriculum component. The arts prepare students to succeed in an economy driven by innovation and creativity. Ongoing research confirms a positive relationship between arts education and improved academics—from better math and reading skills, to higher standardized test scores and graduation rates. An education that includes the arts helps to train our workforce and produce creative, critical thinkers and problem-solvers whose skills are attractive to employers across industries.


Garfield Elementary School students worked with professional teaching artists during a residency focusing on mosaics and recycled art. The residency was supported by a TeachArtsOhio grant. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Dipman.In FY 2019, OAC staff estimates arts education grant spending was $3.16 million, as calculated via final reports from grantees. This investment translated into a total of more than 6.4 million in-person arts experiences for children and youth, again, as measured via self-reported data from grantees in FY 2019.


Through strategic grantmaking efforts in 2019, the OAC supported the professional development efforts of a variety of statewide arts education organizations in order to ensure the sustainability of these crucial service providers. The OAC has supported additional educational service providers at the local level through grantmaking efforts covering a diverse array of demographic constituencies. For example, in 2019, the OAC worked with several Educational Service Centers to offer unique and engaging arts-focused professional development opportunities for their member school districts and their educators, thereby allowing their students to garner more enriching classroom experiences in and through the arts.


We project all OAC grants impacting arts education will total $3.68 million in each year of the FY 2020-21 biennium, which represents 23 percent of the agency’s grantmaking budget, or $7.36 million on a biennial basis. This is an increase over the previous biennium and can be primarily attributed to the popularity, demand, growth, and success of the agency’s recently restructured teaching artist residency program, TeachArtsOhio. Similarly, we estimate that OAC grants will support roughly 13 million in-person arts experiences for children and youth in the current biennium.


As part of a TeachArtsOhio teaching artist residency, Midview High School students worked with Cleveland songwriter Brent Kirby to produce Living in the Moment, a CD featuring six songs written entirely by the students. Photo courtesy of Justin CaithamlNew in 2019 was the creation and dissemination of the Ohio Teaching Artist Roster, an online resource that comprises Ohio artists who have demonstrated artistic excellence; the ability to integrate academic content; effective classroom management and student engagement; and strong communication with education, arts, and cultural partners. The roster is designed for use by the public, particularly educators, to assist in identifying teaching artists who can lead high-quality, arts-integrated creative opportunities that are aligned with academic content standards. Teaching artists on this roster have been vetted by an application and observation process and participate in ongoing professional development to provide the highest-quality arts education experiences and grow their teaching artist knowledge and skills. The Ohio Teaching Artist Roster is a partnership effort together with four other Ohio arts education organizations (the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, OhioDance, and Art Possible Ohio).


The Ohio Arts Council also provides opportunities to showcase student artwork. Similar to the Congressional Art Competition at the federal level, the
Ohio House of Representatives Student Art Exhibition features exemplary visual art created by high school students from each of the 99 House districts. The yearlong exhibition recognizes the talent, creativity, and innovative visions of students who receive high-quality arts instruction as a part of their academic experience. Artwork is displayed in the underground hallway that connects the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts to the Statehouse Parking Garage and, ultimately, the Ohio Statehouse. The exhibition is presented by the OAC in conjunction with the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Art Education Association, with additional support from the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.


Student photographers from Project Snapshot and the Envision Project attend the opening reception of the  2019 Ohio Civil Rights Commission Youth Art Exhibition in Columbus. Photo by Katie MonahanThe Ohio Civil Rights Youth Art Exhibition is a partnership between the OAC and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC). The yearlong exhibition features the photography of young Ohioans who participate in the Cleveland Print Room’s Project Snapshot and Manifest Drawing Center’s Envision Project, based in Cincinnati. OCRC displays the students’ artwork at its headquarters in the Rhodes State Office Tower in Columbus.


The OAC is proud of its long, rich history in supporting arts education; its successes in 2019; and its work going forward in the FY 2020-21 biennium. Celebrate with me the arts education opportunities available in our state and help me thank Governor DeWine and the Ohio Legislature for recognizing the importance of the arts and arts education for all Ohioans through public funding through your Ohio Arts Council!


Happy Arts in Our Schools Month! Look for us to highlight arts education throughout the month of March through social media, the crowning of a new Poetry Out Loud state champion, and the work of our partners in arts education.


Until next time,

Donna S. Collins signature

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director

Featured image: TeachArtsOhio teaching artist Candace Mazur Darman and students from Indianola Informal School during the Fancy Dress exhibition at Whetstone Library. Photo by Donna S. Collins.

[1] Ohio Arts Education Data Project, 2018 school data



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