ARTSY: "Arts-Focused Field Trips May Boost Standardized Test Scores"

More research and more evidence with the same findings. The arts are essential. It is not that art itself is the critical product. It is the preservation of creativity, problem-solving, and thinking outside of the box that are key soft skills needed for future leaders. Read the article below by Eli Hill at Artsy Magazine.


Arts-Focused Field Trips May Boost Standardized Test Scores, New Research Finds

By Eli Hill  |   Mar 18, 2018 8:00 am

Most people would probably say enjoying a colorful Matisse painting at a museum is the polar opposite of filling in test bubbles using a grey 2H pencil. But new research backed by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA suggests that frequent art-related field trips by students may actually be a catalyst for significantly higher standardized test scores in both English and math. The surprising connection runs counter to previous studies, which found engaging with the arts had little to no impact on academic performance in other subjects. The recent research, directed by University of Arkansas professor Jay P. Greene, followed two groups of randomly selected 4th and 5th graders. Students in the first group took three field trips to the Woodruff Art Center in Atlanta, while those in the other group only attended one.

Greene’s research team then compared students’ standardized test scores from before the trips with those taken afterwards, and found unexpected improvement. The class that attended three art-related field trips had scores that rose more than anticipated (12.4 percent increase of a standard deviation, Greene said) on their combined English Language Arts (ELA) and math tests. The bump that followed the field trips was equal to about 87 additional days of classroom learning. But Greene cautions against drawing a straightforward connection between museum visits and standardized test scores.

“It’s implausible to me that students would learn that much math and reading content in two extra visits to a museum,” Greene said. “My best guess is that it’s affecting motivation, not affecting content knowledge.” In other words, student test scores were likely bolstered by an increase in a general academic engagement that came from attending museums, not by what they learned at the museum.

The students who went on additional trips were also more responsive to a questionnaire administered by the researchers that focused on topics such as “social perspective taking” and “art consumption.” The survey included questions like “How often do you try to understand the point of view of other people?” and “If your friends or family wanted to go to an art museum, how interested would you be in going?” After the field trips, Greene noticed more engagement in student responses, and his previous research shows that attending even a single field trip can boost the quality of a student’s survey answer.

“School isn’t just about information provision, it’s also about motivation to acquire information,” said Greene. So, while students may not be learning long division at an art museum, these trips are affecting their social skills, critical thinking abilities, and motivation to acquire knowledge in school.

Though Greene’s research into this subject is still in its early stages, his findings have surprised and excited other researchers in the field, including Lois Hetland, a professor of art education at MassArt. In 2000, Hetland and Boston College professor Ellen Winner performed a systematic literature review focused on whether arts-related learning translated into knowledge in other disciplines. Ultimately, they found it did not, with studying the arts having a slim or nonexistent impact on a student’s success in other academic fields, and vice-versa. So learning math won’t propel students to success in English, and studying English won’t impact their art education.

But, despite these results, Hetland has remained an advocate for integrating the arts into basic education. She questions why the arts are only considered valuable if they’re increasing test scores in other subjects.

“I really hope that the field can begin to look at the arts for what the arts are in themselves,” Hetland said. “The way we make meaning through the arts is a wonderful way of knowing that it’s just as important as science, history, and literature. It’s not more important, it’s as important.”

Just a few skills fostered by the arts are the abilities to observe closely, approach concepts playfully, accept error, sustain our attention, work through blocks, see from multiple perspectives, and actualize our ideas, Hetland said.

“Thinking with complex ideas in nuanced ways and understanding that there are more kinds of answers than right or wrong––that there are layered ambiguities in meaning. Artwork does that,” she noted.

Greene’s research is part of a broader NEA initiative aimed at collecting data to show how the arts impact health, creativity, and business. The agency also just released data showing that the arts and cultural sector contributed over $763.6 billion to the American economy in 2015. Still, the NEA is once again facing funding cuts under the Trump administration’s proposed budget. Along with the economic data, Greene’s early results bolster arts advocates arguing for the powerful impact culture has on students and society at large.

Currently, Greene is continuing his research and has introduced a second wave of participants from four of the original schools, as well as from six new schools. These students will attend the same 3:1 ratio of art-related field trips as the previous group. In addition, Greene’s team plans to followup with those students from the earlier group to monitor the long-term effects art-related field trips might have. Whether or not their scores will continue to improve with more field trips remains to be seen, but there is good reason to believe that these students will continue to welcome their time at an art museum outside the classroom.

“Arts-focused field trips make school suck a little bit less,” as Greene puts it.


NEA: "The Arts Contribute More Than $760 Billion to the U.S. Economy"

As an arts entrepreneur, I am a strong advocate and enabler of future "artpreneurs." Because I believe and I witness how it not only invigorates the spirit and vibrancy of communities, it also empowers individuals and stimulates the economy. On March 6, 208 the National Endowment for the Arts released this article with key findings.


The Arts Contribute More Than $760 Billion to the U.S. Economy

New Findings Released on Economic Impact of Arts

Washington, DC—New data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) offers an insightful picture of the impact the arts have on the nation’s economy. The arts contribute $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy, more than agriculture, transportation, or warehousing.  The arts employ 4.9 million workers across the country with earnings of more than $370 billion. Furthermore, the arts exported $20 billion more than imported, providing a positive trade balance.

Produced by the BEA and NEA, the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACSPA) tracks the annual economic impact of arts and cultural production from 35 industries, both commercial and nonprofit. The ACPSA reports on economic measures—value-added to gross domestic product (GDP) as well as employment and compensation. For the first time, the report also includes the arts impact on state economies as contributions to gross state product (GSP). The numbers in this report are from 2015, the most recent reporting year. 

“The robust data present in the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account show through hard evidence how and where arts and culture contribute value to the economies of communities throughout the nation,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The data confirm that the arts play a meaningful role in our daily lives, including through the jobs we have, the products we purchase, and the experiences we share.”



• For all national findings, see this arts data profile.

  • The arts contributed $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015, 4.2 percent of GDP and counted 4.9 million workers, who earned $372 billion in total compensation.

• The arts added four times more to the U.S. economy than the agricultural sector and $200 billion more than transportation or warehousing.

• The arts saw a $20 billion trade surplus, leading with movies and TV programs and jewelry.

• The arts trended positively between 2012 and 2015 with an average growth rate of 2.6 percent, slightly higher than 2.4 percent for the nation’s overall economy. Between 2014 and 2015, the growth rate was 4.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.

By Industry

• Among the fastest-growing industries within the ACPSA are web streaming and web publishing, performing arts presenting, design, and architectural services.

• Tax-exempt performing arts organizations (those producing art and those presenting the art of others) contributed $9 billion to the U.S. economy and employed 90,000 workers, who earned $5.6 billion in total compensation.

• Consumers spent $31.6 billion on admissions to performing arts events, $1 billion more than projected. 

• The value added by performing arts presenting (tax-exempt and for-profit) rose by 9.5 percent during the recent three-year period.

By State

The value-added to a state’s economy defined as contributions to the GSP is noted for individual ACPSA industries and the states in which that industry ranked above the national average. For example, as a percentage of GSP, Montana leads the country in musical instrument manufacturing, Nevada is at the top for performing arts companies, and Louisiana follows only California and New York as the premiere state for movie production. For all state findings, see this arts data profile. Other leading states are:

• Graphic design in Illinois contributed $589.5 million to GSP, 69 percent above the national rate.

• Architectural services in Massachusetts added $804.6 million, 73 percent greater than the national rate.

• Industrial design in Michigan added $429 million, 9 times the national rate.

• Jewelry manufacturing in Rhode Island contributed $224 million, 33 times the national rate.

• Art‐related printing in Wisconsin contributed $530.9 million to the state’s economy, four times greater than the national rate.

In a research brief looking at rural states, North Carolina and Tennessee had the largest rural arts economies with value-added from rural areas in both states totaling more than $13 billion. 

In a research brief about the fastest-growing arts economies, Washington State and Utah topped the list with average annual growth rates over five percent between 2012 and 2015. 

More state examples are on the State Highlights Fact Sheet.


ARTS MARKET REPORT: Digital Sales Drive Fine Art Digits

February 16, 2017  |  Aidah Fontenot

Historically, the upper class established “legitimacy” within the arts. The proper way to showcase fine art was in isolation, within a formal setting, and before limited audiences. In order to preserve this elitist ideal, they market would sustain outside of the popular economic marketplace and focus on the aesthetic desires of wealthy sponsors. The same is still mostly true for today’s fine arts market, which remains confined and controlled by a small percentage of the upper class.

Glenn O’Brien is an arts journalist, former member of Andy Warhol’s Factory, and panelist on the Vice News report Why Artists Don’t Make Money. O’Brien describes the arts market as an unregulated and inscrutable industry controlled by auction houses and independent financiers in which multi-million dollar deals are based on the value of art, a market which is only determined by taste. O'Brien further argues that art has become the most decadent form of conspicuous consumption in which objects have become “Veblen” goods that operate within a closed market, and in the reverse of supply and demand.

Award-winning artist Ryder Ripps argues that the music industry needs to evolve and realize that it is “selling something that is ephemeral and metaphysical. The thing they are selling is the experience of listening to music. It doesn't matter what medium it's on. The medium in which people can access it the easiest is the most relevant."

While the traditional arts market is incredibly difficult to break into, the introduction of digital sales has broadened the visual arts market similarly to digital music, allowing visual art to become part of popular culture, as a commoditized product that is broadly accessible. According to the The European Fine Art Foundation 2016 Global Art Market Report, online art sales increased by 39% since 2014 and now represent 7% of global art sales. New collectors and art buyers are entering the market through a less intimidating method, and are accessing their experience much faster.

The marketplace shows that people love the immediate gratification of digital download, however this is fueled by love of the ritualistic, and elite experience that owning art provides. According to the Deloitte/ArtTactic Art & Finance Report, 77% of art collectors and 69% of art professionals believe that the online art auction market will become one of the winning business models. This means that as arts managers must stay abreast of what happens in the economic marketplace, and how culture changes from generation to generation. This also means there is a growing demand for professionals within arts marketing and digital sales.

The emergence of online art sales open a doorway that did not exist before, and can alleviate much of the financial struggles of living as an artist.  Anyone can sell artwork online, so artists need to focus on marketing, and think about the psychology of why people are buying. But, does this mean that the arts market of the future will become muddled down and used as a source of income for any person without particular artistic merit? For the sake of the contemporary and future arts movements, I hope that online platforms can utilize some sort of selection process. But then, we would fall back into the same system of a few tastemakers, who determine what is "good" art and control the market.

EXHIBITION REVIEW: Mind the Hand, Curators Spotlight at Arlington Arts Center

In the words of author John Dewey, art is an experience. In order to fully appreciate and absorb an exhibition, it is important to value the complete journey. One does not magically appear - poof! - standing in front of an artwork. The series of experiences - the initial intrigue through marketing, the venue, the environment - lead up to the moment you view the art, and influences your perspective and takeaway experience. Exhibitions that lend themselves to repeat visits, recognize this fluidity and writer who explore them take this into consideration.

The Curators Spotlight features separate, themed exhibits compiled by four curators. The focus on curation above the artist is an unusual concept that is initially interested. From the exhibit catalog, I see that exhibit themes are not based on aesthetics, rather, it is completely conceptual and vague, there is little indication of what to expect visually. I am immediately given the impression that the artwork there is meant to tell a story, and provide the viewer with a window into the process of the artist. It is intriguing. This review focuses on one of the exhibits part of the Curators Spotlight, entitled Mind the Hand, curated by Betsy Johnson. 

The Arlington Arts Center is a multi-use functional space in which artists both work and exhibit. In most institutions, work spaces are hidden behind discreet doors, maintaining a polished facade. The AAC seems to embrace the intersection between the process and the resulting work as part of the experience. 

The building enlarge is quant and charming and does not feel historical like a museum, commoditized like a gallery, nor grungy like an art studio. A stone building, with white walls and grey wood panel floors, the space is bright, but not the sharp, modern brightness popular in contemporary galleries. There was no stateliness, nor feeling of formality, as commonly felt in a gallery.

Mind the Hand feels like walking into a scene already in motion, where the pieces live, and I was entering their world. All the artworks in this exhibit seem to be quietly alive and imperfect, I felt I had walked into a scene in motion. The very definition of installation art is that it is created within the space in which it is exhibited. It is attached to the physical space, the walls, the floors, and the space becomes the canvas. In this room, Johnson created a scene that felt one with the gallery space, it does feel contrived, and it does not even feel curated. It feels organic, and fluid, in which the individual artworks speak to each other. 

The theme of Mind the Hand is a completely conceptual in which the artists intentionally dove into labor-intensive practice in response to fast-paced life. The wall text notes that while the artists were “varied in materials, processes, and end results, they are unified in their belief in the transformative power of making…” I feel that the artists took this concept one step further and were unified even in their use of materials. 

The room is lightly divided into two spaces by a partial wall. The hum and beat of “new age” sounding music in deep and melodic tones is apparent in the room. It is coming from a large multimedia installation on the opposite wall and sets the mood for the experience.

Two thirds of the right side of the room is bright and covered with windows, which draws you in the direction of an installation of a dozen thin circles suspended from the ceiling, just below eye level, so they appear to float in the center of the room. Each circle is translucent beige, about the size of a dinner plate, with textured stripes. They remind me of dreamcatchers, or the tightly drawn tops of tribal drums, as they gently sway, twirl and dance upon the air circulating in the room. This dance is intentional. The physical suspension, and translucency would mean that, depending upon the daylight and motion in the room, the work would yield a different visual experience. 

Behind the floating circles, is a complex beehive made of clear tape in the window. In one corner is a fabric rectangle the size of telephone booth, and in the other a puddle of fabric, slightly pulled up towards the ceiling and weighted with a metal water bucket. Both are of shimmery, heavy black fabric resembling vinyl. If there was more depth to the “labor-intensive” practice, it was not apparent in these two pieces. They felt a little expected in a contemporary art installation, but did visually anchor the corners of the room.

Adjacent to the circles is a wall installation of silk cocoons attached to the wall as dots in the pattern of the fibonacci sequence spiral. The careful attention this piece must have taken to compose is apparent. Along the same wall, but on the other side of the room, another particular piece that stands out in which hundreds of rustic, shimmering cicada wings were carefully pinned to an approximate four foot square wall space, save a three foot circular opening. This piece caught my attention initially because it it utilizes the basic element of design in shape, a circle within a square is immediately focusing to the viewer, it says “look right here!,” as by visual association with a target, street sign, check box, etc. But take a closer look and you begin to appreciate and experience the process the artist spent in the space, pinning each wing. 

Each piece in Mind the Hand deserves thoughtful examination. First appreciate the aesthetic value, and with more time the intentioned theme of labor and craft associated with teach work is impressive. The detailed pieces in this collection changed my perspective about installation art, and how is planned ahead. This collection feels like the pieces were inspired by the space itself, and even by each other.