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Study Suggests that Youth Serving Orgs Can Produce High Quality Arts Learning

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Oct 10, 2017

In 2014, the Wallace Foundation launched the Youth Arts Initiative, a program that supports Boys & Girls Clubs of America that are hoping to develop high-quality, afterschool arts programming. Using the findings of the Something to Say report as a guide for what constitutes “high-quality arts programming,” Wallace supported shifts in arts learning at three Clubs around the country. A just-released report from Wallace finds that these three pilot Clubs indicate that, in many cases, youth serving organizations can support successful arts programming that mirrors the impact of arts-focused organizations.

The achievements of the Clubs include:

  • Ninety-six to 100 percent of participants agreed that the professional teaching artists were very good at the art forms they taught.
  • Ninety-five to 100 percent agreed that the teaching artist expected them to do their best.
  • Eighty-six to 98 percent reported that studios made them excited about the art.
  • Eighty-nine to 97 percent felt safe in class.
  • Every class had held a culminating event, many of them public, by spring 2016.

Of course, the Clubs had to make significant alterations to their staffing, structure, and organizational culture in order to achieve successful arts-focused outcomes. Some of the difficulties included:

  • Teaching artists often lacked experience in youth development and required significant training and support.
  • Dedicated art studios challenged clubs’ usual practice of sharing spaces among several different types of programs.
  • New programs required more attention from club leaders than typical BGCA programs.
  • The infusion of restricted Wallace funds created some tensions between the new, well-funded arts programs and existing programs that operate on shoestring budgets.

You can read the full report here.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.