The Benefits Of Arts Education

The Benefits Of Arts Education13


Zenith Community Arts Foundation (ZCAF)

Harnessing the Transformative Power of Art to Benefit the Greater Washington DC Community Since 2000


Benefits Of Arts EducationDid you know that Zenith Gallery founder Margery Goldberg also founded a nonprofit? Founded in 2000, Zenith Community Arts Foundation (ZCAF) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, committed to arts advocacy, arts education, and public art, as well as using art and creativity to enrich the Greater Washington DC/ Baltimore/ Virginia region, with an emphasis on our local community.  Based in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of Ward 4, ZCAF achieves our goals by fostering alliances between area artists, businesses, other non-profits, & government agencies.  ZCAF’s current focus is on developing an arts education program for area teenagers. This program has been dubbed “Hands’ on Workshops” or HOW.


ZCAF’s Hands’ On Workshops (HOW) Mission Statement is:


Benefits Of Arts EducationIn a world inundated with a bewildering array of messages and meanings, an arts education also helps young people explore, understand, accept, and use ambiguity and subjectivity. In art as in life, there is often no clear or “right” answer to questions that are nonetheless worth pursuing (“Should the trees in this painting be a little darker shade of green?”). Such nuanced thinking is in high demand on the job site, and employers value an employee who is capable of understanding ‘why’ beyond simply, robotically following instructions and completing tasks mindlessly. Such workers are valued for their ability to communicate, to learn, and to problem-solve.


At the same time, the arts bring excitement and exhilaration to the learning process. Study and competence reinforce each other; students become increasingly interested in learning, add new dimensions to what they already know, and enhance their expectations for learning even more. The joy of learning becomes real, tangible, powerful. Students who enjoy learning will remain in school, continue their educations, and organically apply their love of learning to all facets of their life: personal, social, career, and community interactions.  Arts education facilitates successful hiring; long-term, gainful employment and promotion in one’s career.


Students of the Arts…


understand the human experience, both past, and present, which facilities empathy;


learn respect for others – including adapting to and respecting other ways of thinking and doing;


experience an increased sense of belonging or attachment to a community –


Community-based art programs such as those offered by ZCAF and other non-profits help introduce your child to new people and new experiences. This attachment encourages our youth to engage in social and creative activities while feeling part of a larger community. Through these connections, the student will learn about trust and develop healthy interpersonal skills and friendships.


experience a sense of pride –


When a person puts his heart and soul into an art project—and spends hours working on it, cultivating it, and making it beautiful—he or she will feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when it’s complete.


gain an understanding of the business side of art (sales, marketing, promotions, formal critiques, etc.);


problem-solve, in a creative fashion, often with tight deadlines and/or budgetary restraints;


make decisions in situations where there are no standard answers;


analyze nonverbal communication (such as road signs, maps, and facial gestures);


appreciate the human-made and the natural world, leading to a more holistic, healthier lifestyle;


make informed judgments about cultural products and issues; and


communicate their thoughts and feelings – art making facilitates healthy self-expression.


A tremendous benefit of arts education is giving children a way to express themselves, especially in a classroom setting. When students are working towards a common goal, they appreciate that their “voice” and interests are heard and understood by others. This joint effort creates a sense of secure acceptance that is critical to their self-esteem.


ZCAF’s Hands’ On Workshop (HOW)  – Alignment with National Standards for Visual Arts


Benefits Of Arts EducationZCAF’s Hands’ On Workshop (HOW) Program features an innovative, comprehensive, culturally sensitive curriculum, reviewed and endorsed by Mr. Nathan Diamond, Director of the Arts Curriculum/Office of Teaching and Learning, for District of Columbia Public Schools.


ZCAF’s curriculum has been aligned with the legislation known as The National Standards for Visual Arts Education (below), which Congress adopted in the early 1990s, and updated in the early 2000s. The six “Content Standards” relate to what is being learned. The eleven “Core Standards” relate to the four-part structure of the creative process, as understood by art educators: Creating, Presenting/Producing, Responding, and Connecting. These National Art Education Standards are the recognized benchmarks for arts education for all citizens and are appropriate benchmarks for any arts program, public or private, nationwide.
To learn more about these standards, please visit:



The Six National Content Standards for Visual Arts Education



Content Standard #1: Understand and apply media, techniques, and processes to art making and design


Content Standard # 2: Use and gain knowledge of structures and functions


Content Standard #3: Choose and evaluate a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas


Content Standard #4: Understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

Content Standard #5: Reflect upon & assess the characteristics & merits of their work & work of others


Content Standard #6: Make connections between other academic subjects: Science, Technology,

Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), music, history, social studies, English, etc.)


The Eleven National Core Standards for Visual Arts Education



Creating is defined as Conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work.


Standard #1.   Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.


Standard #2.   Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.


Standard #3.   Refine and complete artistic work.



Presenting and Producing is defined as:

Presenting (applies to the fine arts, architecture, and design fields) – Interpreting and sharing artistic work.
Producing (applies to media art such as animation, film, TV, & video) – Realizing & presenting artistic ideas & work.


Standard #4.                Analyze, interpret and select artistic work for presentation.


Standard #5. Develop and refine artistic work for presentation.


Standard #6.                Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.



Responding is defined as Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning.


Standard #7.         Perceive and analyze artistic work.


Standard #8.         Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work.


Standard #9.         Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.



Connecting is defined as Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.


Standard #10.                Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.


Standard #11.               Relate art with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding.



Anticipated Outcomes –The Benefits of Arts Education:

Pro-Social Development & Academic Achievement

Benefits Of Arts Education

The purported benefits of arts education have been documented in hundreds of studies. For example, Harvard’s Project Zero recently analyzed 188 reports related just to academic improvement stemming from enrollment in arts education programs.


The measured outcomes generally fall into one of two categories: pro-social development (life skills are also known as ‘soft skills’) and academic achievement.


Some of the indicators of pro-social development include:


Benefits Of Arts Education
  • Better discipline
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Reduced truancy
  • Better relations with adults
  • More hope for the future
  • Increased motivation
  • More positive peer associations
  • Less interest in drugs
  • More resistant to peer pressure
  • Reduced criminal activities


Measures of academic achievement include:


  • Improved math ability
  • Improved reading comprehension
  • Improved language skills
  • Increased interest in social studies
  • Improved spatial-temporal reasoning
  • Higher high school graduation ratesBenefits Of Arts Education


The most complete and well-designed analysis of arts education to date comes from the YouthARTS

Development Project, a collaboration of the U.S. Department of Justice, National Endowment for the

Arts, Americans for the Arts, and local governmental and nonprofit entities in three cities. The study

encompassed arts-based prevention and intervention programs in Atlanta, San Antonio, and

Portland, Oregon that share a common focus on reducing the risk factors for antisocial behavior (e.g.

social alienation, early school failure) and increasing the protective factors that help youths stay out of

trouble (e.g. positive peer associations, communications skills). Ultimately, these outcomes were

expected to result in reduced delinquent and criminal behavior.  The detailed evaluation reports of the

YouthARTS program was published in November 2000 and suggested the programs had a variety of

positive impacts on youth attitudes and behaviors.


In respect to criminal activity, highlights include:


In Portland, only 22 percent of the arts program participants had a new court referral

compared to 47 percent of the comparison youth. The level and type of offense committed during the program period were less severe than prior offenses.


In Atlanta, despite the fact that the arts program participants had, on average, more court

referrals than the other groups at the start of the program (7.1, vs. 6.9 (San Antonio) and 2.2 (Portal) referrals, respectively, they had, on average, fewer court referrals during the program period than the comparison group (1.3 and 2.0 respectively). Moreover, a smaller proportion of the art participants committed new offenses during the program period than the control group (50 percent vs. 78.6 percent).


In San Antonio, where the program focused on pre-adolescents (10 to 12 years of age), only 3.5% of participants committed a delinquent offense in the 22 months following program completion.


Anticipated Outcomes –The Benefits of Arts Education: Careers in the Arts Benefits Of Arts Education


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Graphic Designers earnings average out to just over $42,000 a year (graph 1 – top) based on 2005 statistical analysis (see graphics) of job postings found on three websites which track salaries. This is thousands of dollars per year more than the median salary for all American workers.


According to the BLS, from 2008-2018, the field of graphic design will grow by almost 37,000 jobs (graph 2 – bottom), or 13%, higher by 5% than the overall expected civilian workforce growth of 8.2%. As of 2008, there were about 286,100 working graphic designers, a large majority of which had chosen to further their education through higher education.

Benefits Of Arts EducationIn doing this research, it should be noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) focused on a few areas of expected growth within the field of graphic arts: Internet advertising and marketing, mobile phone and other young electronic media, and Web sites for a growing range of products and services. This will be tempered by the continuing decline of print media like newspapers and magazines.


Benefits Of Arts EducationThis is representative of a broad shift away from traditional pen-and-paper design towards digital design. As such, ZCAF’s lesson plans delve into new media such as animation and digital media design.  Students will get the chance to work with an animator, and discuss new media careers such as Video Game Designer. When ZCAF instructors teach about color, we include a discussion of film and theater light coloration techniques and the way light is ‘mixed’ on computer monitor screens and with computer printers. Information that most teenagers will not get in a traditional high school art classroom, because there simply is not enough time to expose students to some much detail in typical HS art programs.


However, as ZCAF knows, designers will be expected to be comfortable working in a wide range of formats and media, with those workers comfortable in both print and digital graphic design having the best opportunities. Therefore, ZCAF provides our students with a curriculum that focuses on a comprehensive overview of skills and medium. We know that to be competitive, it is imperative that new media and graphic designers also learn how to ‘draw’ using traditional techniques and materials. ZCAF is committed to keeping DC’s young adults in school so that they are eligible to pursue whatever form of higher education or career advancement they find best suits their aptitudes. Our program will help DC area teenagers see school and learning as both enjoyable in its own right, and beneficial in that it offers them skills and information that will help them navigate the world regardless of their future career path – in short, we will show our students the connection between academic skills and ‘soft skills,’ such as punctuality and healthy self-expression, so that they can be better equipped to engage as productive, well-developed, and capable 21st century citizens.


ZCAF’s Hands’ on Workshops will be a Partnership Between…


  • ZCAF Administrators & DCPS School-based Administrators
  • ZCAF’s Artist-Educators and Certified DC Public School Art Teachers
  • ZCAF & DCPS Students, Parents, and Guardians
  • ZCAF & DCPS – Out-of-School-Time Programming
  • ZCAF & DCPS- Arts/Teaching & Learning Office


What will students be learning in ZCAF’s Hands’ On Workshops and how will they learn it?


Benefits Of Arts EducationZCAF’s HOW program is designed to provides area youth ages 13-26 with a fun and supportive atmosphere that reinforces classroom teaching, infusing academic and career-focused information within the context of a project-based arts education program that focuses on the needs of various learning styles – all with the focus on bridging the ‘achievement gap’ inner city young adults confront. At the same time, our program is not just fun and games or ‘babysitting.’ We will be asking a lot of our participants.


HOW students will:


  • Write, proofread, edit, and refine Artist’s Statements;
  • Present their writing & art to the group (public speaking);
  • Receive feedback from peers and provide feedback to peers;
  • Work in a team at times, work independently at other times;
  • Problem-solve and complete tasks within a deadline;
  • Meet specific project guidelines and follow instructions; and
  • Work with finite resources: limited time and specific materials


Benefits Of Arts EducationHOW students will be learning, practicing, and refining the kinds of skills and tasks that most people encounter on the job site. For example, HOW students will collaborate on the design and installation of their own art exhibit. This type of collaboration is translatable to many career-based activities, such as: working as a team in the operating room performing a surgery, performance in a musical ensemble, work in the military, and working in a large retail establishment.


ZCAF’s HOW offers a low staff-to-student ratio of 1 staff for every 10 students. Our Teaching Team will be able to mentor and nurture students, in a relationship not unlike an athletic coach and their team. ZCAF’s Teaching Team will be able to provide one-on-one assistance with college applications, job applications, and the development of student’s art portfolio.Benefits Of Arts Education

If you would like to kindly make a tax-deductible donation, or to volunteer to help ZCAF in providing quality visual arts programming – with an emphasis on life and job skills – for DC Public High School Students, please contact: Ms. Ella Dorsey, Administrative Director or Ms. Margery Goldberg, Executive Director. We can be reached at: [email protected] or by calling: 202-783-8005. ZCAF offices are open Tuesday-Friday, noon-6:00 pm.