Keep New Jersey Artsy!

How many public schools in your area offer classes on all of the following subjects: music, dance, theater and visual art? If you don’t know, you’re probably guessing that few do. Well, if you live in New Jersey, you don’t have to guess. Thanks to the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project, Garden State residents have access to comprehensive data about arts education in every public school.

The Census Project, under the direction of Indianapolis-based Music for All, combined the results from a mandatory statewide survey with economic, demographic, school report card and municipal information to create a thorough analysis of New Jersey schools’ visual and performing arts education. By doing so, the project also developed a set of comparable data and a research model for other states to use when they gather information about arts education.

The census revealed several key findings. More than 75,000 students in the state of New Jersey do not have access to arts education in their schools. And while 94% of the state’s students have access to some arts education, the majority of New Jersey public schools do not offer instruction in all four artistic disciplines (dance, music, visual art and heater) as required. In addition, many New Jersey schools do not rely solely on government funding to support their arts programs. For example, nearly 42% of the total spending on elementary arts education comes from outside sources.

Those involved with the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project hope that their work will inspire public schools throughout the state and country to place more value on complete artistic education. Young painters, dancers, instrumentalists and actors should all have the opportunity to improve their skills at school!

For more information, including a detailed list of project goals and census findings, visit http://www.artsednj.org/.

About the author

Janel Healy

Janel Healy currently works as a professional vocalist for Holland America Line. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2008 with a degree in communication and a minor in American studies. While at USC, she sang alto in her a cappella group, the SoCal VoCals, which won first place in the 2008 International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. She played trumpet and piano in junior high.

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