Academic Research

What are the Benefits of the visual arts for children?

Research shows that sustained engagement in the visual arts has significant benefits in academic achievement and socioemotional development, particularly for children who are disadvantaged. 

Here are some key ideas:

Art Fosters Creativity and Critical thinking

Participation in the arts develops creative habits of mind. 

Hetland, Winner, Veenema and Sheridan, Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education, Harvard U P, 2013; Winner and Vincent Pancrin, Art for Art’s Sake? The Impact of Arts Education, OECD, 2013; Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts and the Brain: Findings and Challenges for Educators and Researchers from the 2009 John Hopkins University Summit, Dana Foundation, 2009.      

Art promotes intercultural understanding

UNESCO has highlighted the important role of arts education in promoting intercultural understanding in a rapidly changing world. 

Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Art Education from the Second World Conference on Art Education, UNESCO, 2010) 

Arts education fosters “Imaginative Understanding”, one of the 3 capabilities alongside critical thinking and world citizenship identified by Nussbaum as central to the “cultivation of humanity in today’s interlocking world.” 

Maguire, Cindy. “The Capabilities Approach and Citizenship Education: What the Arts Have to Offer.” Prospero: A Journal of New Thinking in the Philosophy of Education Vol 14, 2008. 

 Art fosters empathy

Neuroscientists link arts engagement and the attention to other perspectives as key to developing the capacity for empathy in the brain. 

Bazalgette, Peter. The Empathy Instinct: How to Create a More Civil Society. John Murray Publishers, 2017; Bazalgette, Arts, Culture and Empathy lecture, January 2017.; James Catteral, “A Neuroscience of Art and Human Empathy”, (draft) 2011. 


Art develops confidence, resilience and feelings of self-worth

· Evidence-based research demonstrates a relationship between the arts, increased self-confidence, self-worth and resilience or grit. Upitis, Rena. Arts Education for the Development of the Whole Child. Kinston: Queens University, 2011; Hetland, Winner, Veenema and Sheridan, Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. Harvard University Press, 2013; Varghese, Sheena. "Guidelines for Teaching Art to Students from Urban High-Poverty Backgrounds." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2015. 


Art increases opportunities and outcomes for at risk youth

· High arts engagement has a strong correlation with improved life outcomes for disadvantaged youth in academic achievement, employment opportunity and civic engagement. The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies, National Endowment for the Arts, 2012.

Art reaches students that are hard to reach

· Arts education reaches students that are hard to reach. Kreger Silverman, Linda. “At-risk Youth and the Creative Process,” Gifted Development Centre.; Fiske Edward B., Ed. Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning, Arts Education Partnership, 1999. 

· The arts are shown to increase academic engagement and achievement for children with learning disabilities and for ELL students. Menzer, Melisa. The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of arts, National Endowment for the Arts, 2015. 

Art improves academic achievement

· Learning through the arts improves academic achievement for all children. Fowler. "Strong Arts Strong schools: The promising potential and short-sighted disregard of the arts in American schooling", Educational Leadership: Strategies for Success 52.3. Oxford University Press, 1996; Upitis, 2002.