Art for Art’s Sake? The Impact of Arts Education

Release Date: June 30, 2013

This report examines the state of empirical knowledge about the impact of arts education on educational outcomes. Arts education is often said to be a means of developing critical and creative thinking. It has also been argued that arts education enhances performance in nonarts academic subjects such as mathematics, science, reading, and writing, and strengthens students’ academic motivation, self-confidence, and ability to communicate and cooperate effectively. Therefore, arts education appears to have a positive impact on the three subsets that are defined as skills for innovation: subject-based skills, including in nonarts subjects; thinking and creativity skills; and behavioral and social skills.

The kinds of arts education examined include arts classes in school (music, visual arts, theatre, and dance), arts-integrated classes (where the arts are taught as a support for an academic subject), and arts study undertaken outside of school (such as 6 private music lessons and out-of-school classes in theater, visual arts, and dance). The report does not deal with education about the arts or cultural education, which may be included in all kinds of subjects.