The Arts and Human Development: Framing a National Research Agenda for the Arts, Lifelong Learning and Individual Well-Being

The Arts and Human Development: Framing a National Research Agenda for the Arts, Lifelong Learning and Individual Well-Being

Greater integration of arts education into health and educational programs for children, youth, and older adults is needed to better support healthy cognitive, social, and behavioral development and outcomes across an individual's lifespan, a report from the argues. The report, (38 pages, PDF), highlights findings from studies and evidence-based arts intervention programs presented at at a convening hosted by the NEA and . According to the report's findings, arts education and enrichment benefited preschool-age children, especially those from low-income families and across all racial/ethnic groups, in areas such as language development, spatial cognition, logic and mathematics, and social relations. Among youth and adolescents, arts-engaged low-income students were more likely than their non-arts-engaged peers to attend and do well in college, obtain employment, volunteer in their communities, and vote, while schools that implemented arts integration initiatives saw improvements in academic achievement and reductions in suspension rates and discipline referrals. And older adults participating in a chorale program reported better overall physical health, fewer doctor visits, and less medication use than did the control group, while those in a structured theatrical intervention performed significantly better on immediate word recall, problem-solving, verbal fluency, and delayed recall than those in a singing group and a no-treatment control group. The report's recommendations include establishing a federal inter-agency task force to share research and information about the arts and human development and making sure that arts education is included in national and international conversations focused on the role of policy in human thriving and well-being.

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