Is Art Bougie?: Accessibility in Arts Education

Bob Ross on TV. Courtesy of Doyle (2017)

Arts education in the United States is in crisis. Given Trump Administration’s budget proposal for 2019 to reduce the funding as a step toward closing the four major cultural agencies, including National Endowment for the Arts, the future for arts education in public schools looks dark.

However, a wealth of evidence supports that drawing has a significant role in young children’s development. Various art forms allow youngsters a space to express ideas they have not yet learned to verbalize and visualize their thoughts. Through arts, young children find intersectionality between them and the world around them, thereby revealing their place in the society. For older children, higher engagement in arts education spills over to more engagement in other activities at school and improved academic performance, as well as a decrease in disciplinary referrals.

Despite the drastic federal budget cut in funding public cultural agencies as well as public schools, growing number of parents are becoming more aware of the importance of providing Arts education to their little ones as small as toddlers. Good news to the growing attention in early art education is the emergence of innovative private arts academy for young children, such as Bubbles Academy and Young Rembrandts. Young Rembrandts gained attention from Korea with its “differentiated arts curriculum,” through which its young artists can gain valuable life skills.

A major drawback to the transition of arts education from the public to private sectors is that the high cost, and exclusiveness, of private arts education reinforces elitism and widens the gap between socioeconomic classes. When the federal government cuts the funding of cultural agencies and schools eliminate arts programs, children from low-income families pay the biggest price in lost motivation, lost opportunity, and lost life skills.  Having an arts curriculum in school is valuable for all students, but it’s especially critical for low-income children whose family can’t afford trips to museums or after-school art classes at a community center. Catteral report found that students at high-income and low-income schools with strong art programs do better than their peers who attend schools without art programs. The benefits are particularly significant for students from low-income backgrounds. Compared to their counterparts at schools without art programs, twice as many attended four-year colleges or universities, and they were less likely to drop out.

The movement to broaden arts education in schools has started. In Chicago, moms are raising voice for a wider accessibility to early childhood arts education. As a response, Whole Child Arts, a non-profit organization modeled after the popular Bubbles Academy, is partnering with community centers and schools to offer arts education to children in underserved neighborhoods for free. And, Chicago public schools have declared the arts a core area of their curriculum and released a 5-year progress report on CPS students’ greater access to high-quality arts education.

Acknowledging the power of arts education is not enough. Non-profit organizations can’t provide arts for all by themselves. Arts programs at public schools continue to live in the shadow of devastating budget cuts and staff layoffs. Will Art continue to be the luxury of the few?



Bubbles Academy. (n.d). Pricing. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

Catterall, J. (2012, March). The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

Doyle, A. (2017, July 10). Why Bob Ross is my life coach. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

Lee, J. (2018, September 12). Young Rembrandts offers differentiated Arts curriculum and strengthened Arts workshops. Retrieved September 16, 2018, from

McGlone, P. (2018, February 12). Trump’s budget eliminates NEA, public TV and other cultural agencies. Again. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

Missouri Alliance for Arts Education. (2010, March 1). Arts Education Makes a Difference in Missouri Schools. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

National Endowment for the Arts. (2015, December). The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of Arts Participation. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

Orlinsky, Lori. (2018, September 11). Chicago mom wants to make early childhood arts education more accessible. Retrieved September 16, 2018, from

Rhein, J. (2017, December 19). Making arts a core component in Chicago schools: A 5-year report card. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

Whole Child Arts. (n.d.). Whole Child Arts. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

Young Rembrandts. (n.d.). Why Young Rembrandts Works. Retrieved September 17, 2018, from

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