Arts Education

An area of focus for the American Academy’s Commission on the Arts

The Commission on the Arts, convened by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, established arts education as a primary area of focus. The artists, scholars, activists, and leaders serving on the Commission shared a conviction that the arts should play a central role in the lives of young people and in communities. The Commission held listening sessions and events, collected data, and developed recommendations to improve access, equity, and visibility for arts education in America.

The Commission on the Arts issued an evidence-based, value-centered report arguing for the necessity of the arts in every student’s education. The report is available online: download a PDF or order a free copy.

The Commission on the Arts drew on the stories of people across America – professional artists and not – whose experiences show ways in which arts education changes lives. These are a few stories; the report offers many more.


“Dance allowed me to develop as a person and as a human being. . . . [Without my dance teacher] I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today, and I think that’s what’s so incredible and important about arts in public schools in particular and dance as an art form in public schools. . . . I am forever grateful for that opportunity.”
—MISTY COPELAND, Principal Ballerina at American Ballet Theatre

“The one thing that kept me in school was that I really loved band. I couldn’t see myself leaving the band behind, and so I stayed in school and even went to college. Not as a music major, but I continued to play in the College Marching and Concert bands. Now I work in Arts Education and hope that the artists we send to perform in schools and teach workshops are finding the students who are bored and dislike school and giving them a reason to stay.”
—DONNAJEAN, Arts Educator, Kendall Park, NJ


“I learned more in theater class than I did in any of my other studies—English, mathematics. . . . My brain grew twelve sizes thanks to theater, and not only that, it built confidence and muscles in my soul. I can clearly chart a path on my life’s journey through the theatrical productions I was a part of and my theater teachers—God bless them all. I’m a firm believer that every school in this country should have a theater arts program. It saved my life, and I love it.”
—JACK BLACK, Actor and Musician

The Commission on the Arts is focused on arts education and support for the arts and artists.