, , ,



by Norman Warwick

Arts education is often said to be a means of developing critical and creative thinking. Arts education has also been argued to enhance performance in non-arts academic subjects such as mathematics, science, reading and writing, and to strengthen students’ academic motivation, self-confidence, and ability to communicate and co-operate effectively. Arts education thus seems to have a positive impact on the three subsets of skills that we define as “skills for innovation”: subject-based skills, including in non-arts subjects; skills in thinking and creativity; and behavioural and social skills.

This report examines the state of empirical knowledge about the impact of arts education on these kinds of outcomes. The kinds of arts education examined include arts classes in school (classes in 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 (e.g. private music lessons; out-of-school classes in theatre, 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.

The impact of arts education on other non-arts skills and on innovation in the labour market should not be the primary justification for arts education in today’s curricula. The arts have been in existence since the earliest humans, are parts of all cultures, and are a major domain of human experience, just like science, technology, mathematics, and humanities. The arts are important in their own rights for education. Students who gain mastery in an art form may discover their life’s work or their life’s passion. But for all children, the arts allow a different way of understanding than the sciences. Because they are an arena without right and wrong answers, they free students to explore and experiment. They are also a place to introspect and find personal meaning.

The opening paragraphs above were taken from Art For Arts SakeISBN: 9789264180772,   DOI:10.1787/20769679, Publication: 17/6/2013 as seen at

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

The words mirror my own thoughts and reflect the ethos of Sidetracks & Detours in seeking to implement the arts into all walks of life.

We recognise that we are not the only print or on-line media trying to support the arts through this covid crisis. In fact, we are currently discovering plenty of like-minded organisations with which we share an obvious synergy. One of those is an outlet called JAZZed, which has been free for many years and the on-line magazine will continue to provide such complimentary subscriptions during the pandemic.

However, they seek your consideration in these difficult times to help support their efforts at JAZZed to keep information flowing and to provide you with a continuous stream of current and vital information on the jazz sector when it is most needed.

JAZZed is an exciting publication created for jazz educators which provides practical, hands-on information to help school and independent music educators teach jazz to high-school and college students.

Each issue features an in-depth editorial profile on successful jazz educators and performers to highlight their approach to teaching and playing jazz, including performance methods, improvisation, repertoire, recording techniques, travel and festival opportunities, and so much more! Whether an educator is focused on small ensembles, big bands, soloists, or other groups, they will find a variety of helpful information and ideas in JAZZed.

the magazine is published six times per year and reaches over 13,000 jazz educators across the USA.

They are quietly inviting followers to support those efforts with a small donation which could allow staff the ability to keep providing interesting stories particularly addressing not only those who are seeking some way to make their career in the jazz scene but also for those who have a broader, less specific interest. Donations and contributions would help JAZZed to continue to provide the service for schools, staff and students and their families and co-workers. and co-workers.

With so many infrastructures falling apart or rotting away during this pandemic and with money far too tight to mention you might wonder why support should be directed towards a perceived niche section on the education syllabus.

I am not a politician, nor a policy-maker, and neither an orator nor a writer in any real sense. However, I enjoyed a long career as a peripatetic poet and writer on the books of Artists In Schools, a UK government funded project, that for more than ten years delivered artists into classrooms to give mainstream curricular assistance and to help pupils deal with personal and social issues within the school environment.

Loss of funding rendered it no longer viable and town hall chiefs scrapped the service completely in 2011

The Artist in Schools Service was set up to bring together pupils, artists and teachers to inspire learning. Artists helped schools to deliver the creative curriculum through the development of projects across all suspects.

Artists In Schools also provided after school and summer activities.

Education chiefs said the service had provided a ´very high quality experience of the arts´ for pupils but added it was not a statutory council service and that the financial situation became “challenging” when neighbouring Bury Council withdrew its annual £50,000 contribution.

The council said pressures on school budgets had meant that the number of schools signed up for the ´service level agreement´ had also reduced.

A council report stated that over the previous 12 months funding reserves had been raided to ensure the service broke even as grant funding did not bring in ´significant amounts´.

Bolton Council spokesman said at the time:

´Over the past 10 years The Artists in Schools service has supported schools in delivering their creative curriculum and after school and summer arts activities. Recently funding has declined for this service making it no longer viable and a proposal to remove the service has been put forward for consultation with trades unions, staff and stakeholders. Following consultation, if the agreement is to discontinue the service schools will be able to buy in freelance art services to fit their specific requirements.´

The service was subsequently axed, though I know that people like Rosie Marcus, a tireless worker for Artists In Schools would have advocated strongly for its continuance and would have had facts and figures of empirical evidence of the need for arts to contribute to the overall education curriculum. The local Council sought to gloss over the closure of the organisation by saying that only one post had to be made redundant as artists who worked for the Artists in Schools service did so on a self-employed basis !

The body of visual artists, dancers, drummers, musicians, mime artists, poets and potters, circus workers and ceramicists, working for the organisation were a dedicated and astonishingly skilled and diverse group of people but not once was our opinion sought as to how the situation might been turned around and why it was so necessary why a solution should have been found. A whole generation of students in the North West of England have been deprived of a service that raised self-esteem, bred understanding and tolerance and offered alternative career paths (that are now going to be so vital as the world turns after covid).

It appeared that creativity was not high on the agenda of then education secretary, Michael Gove, (left) and one of my former colleagues at Artists In Schools made several valid points when asked to comment at the time by The Bolton Evening News.

Suzanne Harulow, freelance artist

´If pupils are who are not necessarily great at the 3Rs, but who excel in the arts, are denied this area of the curriculum, it could lead to behaviour problems in school,´ said  Suzanne Harulow, a freelance artist who has ran workshops in school for more than 15 years,

´I am devastated,´ she continued. “I was one of the first artists in the pilot scheme. It has been a brilliant. Art can be used in so many different ways to reach children who don’t like literacy because Arts offer a different way of looking at subjects.´

Like Suzanne, I have seen, and know, and can provide empirical evidence of, how effective and beneficial an arts intervention or inclusion in the school time table can be.

So I was delighted to ´discover´ JAZZed magazine, buying into that ethos, especially as the edition I stumbled upon (having been recommended by feedspot) was lauding the virtues of a new initiative.

Arts in education  in America is still an expanding field of educational research and practice informed by investigations into learning through arts experiences. In this context, the arts can include Performing Arts, Education, (dance, drama, music) literature and poetry, story-telling, visual-arts education in film, craft, design, digital arts media and photography. It is distinguished from art education by being less about teaching art than about how to improve learning through the arts and how to transfer learning in and through the arts to other disciplines. Arts In Education also seeks to discover creative understanding of human behaviour, thinking, potential, and learning especially through the close observation of works of art and various forms of involvement in arts experiences.

Arts ARE Education is a campaign that believes that as repression builds, say under the onslaught from covid,  art comes to be regarded as ‘time off for good behaviour’ or as ‘therapy,’ as the ease and carefreeness of the arts are supposed to bring joy and a sense of calmness. It is used to destroy the monotony of a regular school day, put a dent in the relentlessness of arithmetic and reading. Art should be seen as means of therapy, never something made to cause unrelenting stress and difficulty. If a student becomes less tense and wired up from stress in their learning environments, then they will raise up their grades in other classes, such as maths, English, or science. To give off a relaxed vibe, putting art on the wall tends to provide a calming environment that produces a sense of peace and serenity. Arts-related activities are important for so much more than just keeping your child busy or relaxed. They’ve been proven to boost a child’s self-image. The self-esteem, confidence and pride that comes from art in education is truly incredible and each child should be able to experience that. 

The benefits of arts education programs in schools can also extend beyond therapeutic practices. Involvement in the arts can lead to increased academic performance. For example, students who participate in an arts centred program show increased performance in both verbal and mathematical assessments (Vaughn and Winner, 2000). In places like the United States, arts education is not as valued. However, some national reforms like the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires that arts education, visual and performing, be considered core subjects as they have been proven by many tests to work. Through these requirements schools gain the funds to implement subjects and supplementary items, like books and calculators, students may need to be successful. Schools can also gain funds by participating in national and regional standardized tests, these tests however, only test students on their ability to perform highly in subjects such as math, literacy, and science. Art courses aid student’s ability to perform highly in these subjects as they challenge a student’s brain. it has been found that the effect of learning and listening to classical music on the brain, gives students the ability to learn, and reduce stress,

Art courses within education have importance in not only expanding the mind but keeping kids off the streets and out of the correctional system. Studies show that students participating in art programs are three times more likely to graduate than those who don’t. Art programs give pupils somewhere to express themselves if they don’t have the support to do that at home, it also gets a child to think creatively and inventively, expanding a different of thinking in general. Studnets that have access to art programs or afterschool programs have better grades, it as the arts allowed them to improve their overall skills in school. All of these things are ways that kids keep from getting “bored” in school and getting in with the wrong crowd. Keeping art programs in schools is an important way to keep our children safe and smart

Professor P Vijayakumar, Chairperson, Centre for Social and Organisational Leadership (C SOL) at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, India uses art as a teaching tool extensively in the Organisation Development and Change course for masters students states “Art facilitates reflection. Reflective practice needs to be an integral part of any management education”

The new national campaign, Arts ARE Education, designed to support the on-going value of arts education for PreK-12 students in the post-pandemic era, is rolling out its message and strategies in a virtual town hall on January 19, via Zoom, 2:30 PT and 5:30 ET.

The town hall, the first of five scheduled virtual events on behalf of the campaign, will include presentations by leaders of the National Association for Music Merchants (NAMM) and representatives from the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, the Arts ARE Education sponsoring organization. The event is being presented in coordination with NAMM’s Believe in Music Week, as part of their “Coalition on Coalitions” session. Subsequent campaign meetings will be entitled “Arts ARE Education Tuesday Town Halls” and feature education leaders and decision-makers in dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts in dialogue with administrators, teachers, parents, students, and other school stakeholders on successive Tuesdays, January 26 through March 2.

Arts ARE Education is seeking to mobilize support throughout the country by emphasizing the importance of arts education as a central component to the well-rounded education of all students. Advocates are concerned that budget shortfalls and an emphasis on remedial curriculum addressing learning loss will impact access to arts education, particularly for students deemed at risk. The campaign will urge grassroots advocates to reach out to district school leaders, legislators, and community members to support funding that will maintain and grow music and arts programs in the 2021-22 school year and beyond. In support of its core message, the campaign is asking school boards to pass the Arts ARE Education Resolution and for individuals to sign the Arts ARE Education Pledge. Arts ARE Education was inspired by the Arts Education is Essential document that was issued by NCCAS in April and endorsed by 111 national organizations. The statement articulated how arts experiences support the social and emotional well-being of students and nurtures the creation of a welcoming school environment where all students can express themselves in a safe and positive way.

“The arts will help schools and students rebuild and strengthen the sense of community lost during the pandemic,” said campaign spokesperson James Palmarini. “When we say the arts are education, we mean they are as fundamental to student success as any other subject area — right now maybe more so as students re-enter the in-school environment.”

Kenny Leon at arrivals for American Theatre Wing Annual Gala 2015, The Plaza Hotel, New York, NY September 28, 2015. Photo By: Steven Ferdman/Everett Collection

Addressing the campaign’s call for supporting arts education in schools, award-winning Broadway director Kenny Leon said: ´The arts are life–we all need them, children more than anyone. Every student ought to have the opportunity to act, paint, dance, sing–whatever artistic impulse that helps them discover who they are and who they want to become. I call on our schools to continue to make arts education a central part of their students’ education.”

Jazz of course speaks not only young aspirants in education but also to grown adult, too, and nobody has more eloquently expressed that fact than the late Dr. Martin Luther King when he, somewhat incongruously perhaps, spoke at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1964 in the following terms.

Martin Luther King

´God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music.

Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.

It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.

Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.

And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.

In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.´

And stepping stones towards adulthood are exactly what education is supposed to provide and it is great to hear Arts ARE Education following King´s words with deeds.

Sidetracks % Detours in association with Hot Biscuits
1st Joined Up jazz Festival
Monday 1st March to Friday 12th March

Coming soon in March 2021 a World premier of Joined Up Jazz. A festival to celebrate jazz music and its musicians in joined up words and notes. Sidetracks & Detours blog editor, Norman Warwick, in association with Hot Biscuits jazz broadcasters Gary Heywood Everett and Steve Bewick and What´s On Lanzarote journalist Susana Forden will be presenting a two week festival of writing on jazz. A fresh posting will take place each day of the festival.

Starting Monday 1st – 12th March 2021 we shall be posting to Normans website, https://aata.dev/  articles on the jazz and blues pioneers Bessie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald, modern jazz men John Coltrane and the post-modernist Gill Evans. Features will also include a personal take on the Israeli jazz scene, the rise and influence of swing jazz across Europe and an eclectic journey down the side tracks and detours of jazz. Many of these pieces will carry links to music to inform, amuse and to bop to. All you have to do is journey on down to our festival site at www.aata/dev no tickets required. This is a free festival to brighten up these Covid times. You can also tune in to hear Hot Biscuits on fc-radio-co.uk

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.