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PR- 078-08
March 6, 2008


First-Time Report Describes New Supports to Boost Arts Education

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools  Chancellor Joel I. Klein today released the first Annual Arts in Schools Report, which provides the most comprehensive analysis of arts education in New York City public schools ever produced. The new report documents the comeback of arts education since it was nearly eliminated during the 1970s, and identifies areas where schools are excelling, as well as where targeted interventions are needed to improve results. It provides student participation and access to arts programs data during the 2006-07 school year – the year before the ArtsCount initiative began – and will therefore serve as a baseline for measuring performance under ArtsCount, which was announced last summer to enhance and provide greater accountability for arts education. Early indicators suggest that ArtsCount is already yielding results: in 2007-08, schools budgeted to increase arts spending by 3 percent, or $9.5 million, including a 2 percent increase in the number of full-time, certified arts teachers.  The Mayor and Chancellor were joined at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn by Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Theatre Development Fund Executive Director Victoria Bailey, and Principal Jo Ann Chester.

“Arts instruction is essential to a high-quality education,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “As the first Annual Arts in Schools Report clearly shows, we have come a long way from the days when the arts were essentially eliminated from our schools. This resurgence would not have happened without the creativity and commitment of the arts community, but much work remains. The report gives the DOE, parents, and the arts community an essential tool to track our continuing progress.” 

“Many of our schools are providing an outstanding arts education, cultivating students’ creativity and honing their artistic talents, but clearly, many other students are being shortchanged, which is unacceptable,” said Chancellor Klein. “We will use the data in this report to target support to the schools that need it most, and we will enlist the arts community to assist us in ensuring that every student has access to a well-rounded arts education.”

“The schools that best serve their students are the ones that thoughtfully and actively engage with their communities,” said Commissioner Levin. “In New York City, those communities include some 1,400 non-profit cultural organizations poised to extend and enhance the learning that begins in the classroom.”

Baseline data from the first Annual Arts in Schools Report allow the DOE to measure progress and develop targeted strategies to move schools toward the goal of providing high-quality arts education for all students. As announced last summer, principals will now be held accountable for arts education in their progress reports, quality reviews, and annual performance reviews.

Among new strategies announced today that will begin soon:

  • For elementary schools, the DOE will develop curriculum and provide professional development for classroom teachers to integrate all four arts forms—visual arts, music, theater, dance—into their regular instructional programs.

  • At the middle-school level, schools will be offered professional development workshops to help school leaders strategically use their schedule, space, and budget to provide more arts programs. These are the three issues most often cited as creating barriers to arts education programs.

  • At the high school level, the DOE will offer seminars to help more districts and schools establish multi-year arts sequences. In addition, the DOE will be implementing a 12th grade comprehensive exam in all four arts disciplines, which students will take for the first time in the 2008-09 school year.

In addition, the DOE will develop arts curriculum toolkits for all principals and work with School Support Organizations to help their schools deliver an arts curriculum aligned with the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, a set of clear standards for what students should know and be able to do in the four arts forms. And to address shortages in full-time, certified arts teachers, particularly in dance and theater, the DOE will work with education departments at local universities to develop a strong pipeline of future teachers.

Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein also announced that beginning June 2, Bank of America will sponsor a week-long celebration, “P.S. Arts Week”, which will feature student artwork and performances in marquee locations throughout the city, including Carnegie Hall and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.    

“The arts are an essential part of the instructional program at Fort Hamilton High School,” said Principal Jo Ann Chester. “They lead to a more well-rounded individual. The variety of music, visual arts, and drama programs we offer also give students the opportunity to make a connection with something they are passionate about, which helps to keep them focused and motivated.”

“Partnerships with committed teachers and principals are central to the success of TDF's work here at Fort Hamilton and in all of the schools where we work.  Together, we are able to enrich the lives of students while strengthening key skills they will need as they move beyond the doors of their school,” said Victoria Bailey, Executive Director of Theatre Development Fund.  “All of us at TDF would like to thank the Mayor and his team, who are working so effectively on behalf of arts and education.”

The Annual Arts in Schools Report identifies both areas where schools are excelling and areas where the targeted interventions described above are needed. In high schools, nearly half ofstudents (46 percent) are exceeding graduation requirements by earning two or more credits in the arts. In elementary schools, 98 percent of schools are providing arts education to every student each year, with 62 percent providing instruction in two arts forms. However, only 4 percent of  elementary schools are offering all four art forms to every grade annually, as required by the State. At the middle school level, more than 90 percent of schools offer at least one art form and 79 percent offer at least two; but only 29 percent of students received one semester’s instruction in two distinct arts disciplines, as the State requires.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Members of New York City’s cultural community are instrumental in helping schools offer diverse arts programs. For example, when working with cultural partners, 68 percent of elementary schools offer at least three arts disciplines and 38 percent offer all four.

  • Between 2004-05 and 2006-07, the number of arts vendors in partnership with City schools increased by 56 percent.

  • Between 2004-05 and 2006-07, the number of school buildings with arts rooms increased 3 percent, and the total number of arts rooms increased 1 percent. Nearly all, 92 percent, of school buildings have arts rooms.

  • Between 2004-05 and 2006-07, the number of full-time certified arts teachers increased by 9 percent.

The Annual Arts in Schools Report is accessible at Additionally, an individual report has been published for every school and can be found on the ‘Statistics’ page of each school’s website.


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

David Cantor (DOE)   (Department of Education)
(212) 374-5141

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