Top Ten Challenges to Providing More Arts Education

Posted by Deb Vaughn, Apr 13, 2016 0 comments

Photo Credit: Ballet Folklorico Ritmo AlegreIn mid-2015, the Oregon Community Foundation and the Oregon Arts Commission conducted a survey Oregon to gather information about what kind of arts education was provided by non-profit organizations during the 2014-15 school year. 152 organizations voluntarily responded, and while this self-selected sample may not reflect the work of all nonprofits providing arts education, it does offer interesting insight into the landscape in our state.

Most importantly, the Oregon Arts Education Snapshot confirmed that nonprofit organizations play a robust role in offering arts education opportunities for students. A few other learnings:

  • Organizations with budgets under $50,000 tend to spend a larger portion of their budgets on arts education programming, while organizations with budgets over $2 million tend to spend a smaller portion.
  • Most organizations are providing several arts education opportunities with limited budgets and staff capacity (supplementing staff with volunteers and contractors.)
  • Over half are providing out-of-school time and/or summer instruction, and nearly as many are delivering community performances. Less than 20% are providing training for teachers and/or school administrators.
  • Among survey respondents, music is the most commonly offered discipline for arts education programs. (This correlates to data collected in 2014 that organizations with music as their primary discipline represent nearly half of arts organizations in the state.)

The survey also asked respondents, “What are the greatest challenges to offering more arts education as part of your programming?” Respondents rank-ordered a list of 10 possible challenges and offered additional barriers and comments.

  1. Lack of Funding: “. . .it was very difficult not to know whether or not we would be funded for the following year.”
  2. Other Curriculum Priorities: “Many think arts education is worthy, but just not AS worthy as the academic curriculum.”
  3. Lack of Space and/or Time
  4. Scheduling Difficulties: “[Classroom] time frames are so fragmented it can be challenging to provide a schedule.”
  5. Difficulty Communicating with Schools
  6. Lack of Qualified Arts Educators
  7. Lack of Transportation: “Kids with working parents can’t get to after-school programs. Our community has only marginal public transportation.”
  8. Lack of Qualified Staff: Nearly 63% of responding organizations have less than two FTE staff devoted to arts education.
  9. Lack of Family Engagement
  10. Lack of Enough Volunteers: 91% of responding organizations engage volunteers to help deliver programs.

Photo Credit: Sparkplug DanceWhich of these findings resonates with your work? What kind of data collection have you done related to arts education provided by community-based organizations? How might you respond to and use the information gathered in this survey?

(Many thanks to the team at the Oregon Community Foundation for their leadership on this research project.)

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