The arts teach, heal, and bring hope to individuals and communities in need.
Quality arts education has the power to engage students of all backgrounds and learning abilities. Research indicates that students involved in the arts are more attentive in the classroom, while increased arts programming has been linked to boosts in standardized test scores. Moreover, the arts teach students how to approach complex problems with creativity and innovation, encourage young people to develop confidence and emotional maturity, and provide youth with an essential form of expression. As the study “Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning” concludes, “engagement in the arts – whether the visual arts, dance, music, theatre, or other disciplines – nurtures the development of cognitive, social, and personal competencies.”
Need more convincing? See what the numbers have to say:
- 9th-grade students in the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE) program, which integrates arts education with more traditional academic studies, were reading one full grade level ahead of their peers who were not involved in the program.
- 41.5% of 10th graders with arts involvement scored in the top two quartiles on standardized tests, compared to only 24.9% of their peers who were not involved in the arts.
- 79.2% of 8th graders involved in the arts reported earning mostly As and Bs compared to 64.2% of students with no artistic involvement.
The arts don’t just uplift and inspire: they heal. Studies show that listening to music, watching a performance, or participating in an arts project helps reduce pain and soothe anxiety. Research also demonstrates that arts programming helps those with long-term illnesses feel more control over their future and their pain. Arts programming has even been proven to slow memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients and help those with dementia or Alzheimer’s to connect with their past and with their loved ones.
A study from the National Endowment for the Arts confirmed that “seniors who participate in weekly arts programs reported better health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication usage than those who don’t.” Hospitals across the nation also report that art therapy visits raise the quality of life for patients, their caregivers, and their families.
The arts have the unique power to transcend the barriers that so often prevent us from connecting with one another. Song, dance, art, and theatre function as common languages, creating a positive focal point in the community that encourages neighbors and strangers alike to come together around shared experiences.
At the same time, the arts provide a means of expression for the shared struggles of a community, offering a constructive way to address social injustice and other issues. Studies indicate that community arts foster a local culture of tolerance, cohesiveness, and free expression.
Moreover, there is growing recognition of the untapped potential for artists to contribute to city and planning in a way that that foregrounds the needs of the community. This “creative placemaking” harnesses the creative energy of the community to address common needs and improve infrastructure to encourage both utility and unity.
The cycle of creating, sharing, and experiencing art is one that renews itself. So creating opportunities for all communities to access the arts is truly a worthwhile investment.
Sing for Hope’s model encourages this cycle at every level. Our programs seek to level the playing field for arts training, empower artists to use their talents to benefit others, and bring quality arts programming to those who need it most.
In New York City, there is more need than ever for Sing for Hope’s arts outreach.
In April 2014, a city “State of the Arts” report found that a full 28 percent of city schools lack a full-time certified arts teacher, with 20 percent employing no arts teacher whatsoever – that’s one out of five middle and high schools in this cultural capital. Moreover, lack of arts instruction disproportionately impacts low-income neighborhoods: over 42 percent of these under-resourced schools are concentrated in the South Bronx and central Brooklyn.
The need for more arts programming is equally great in the city’s healthcare facilities. Sing for Hope understands art’s healing power, and our volunteer artists fill a crucial void in healthcare settings. In the words of Dean for Medical Education at Mount Sinai Medical School Dr. David Muller, “It’s more than just the arts. It’s compassion and humanity, because it’s people who perform, not a television or an iPod or a radio, but an actual human being whose mere presence proves to our patients that they still matter, they are more than their diagnoses, they are still human beings surrounded by a world of culture and art and beauty.”