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Art to Heart

Why Are the Arts Important?

From the academic benefits of early exposure to the arts to the importance of visual art, dance, drama, and music in human history and culture, there are many reasons to make sure young children have opportunities to experience the arts. Here are a few ideas from educators, researchers, and parents seen in Art to Heart.

"I believe that the arts are the basis for a lot of future learning for children-it's a firm foundation. Everything we want children to do can be found in the four art forms."

Miriam Flaherty, senior director of education, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

"Education is lighting a fire, not filling a bucket-and the arts light the fire. They light the fire of enthusiasm, of involvement, of engagement. They engage the child on every level-sensory, verbal, cognitive. It's all happening right before your eyes when they're engaged in a performing arts activity."

Valerie Bayne Carroll, master teaching artist, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

"It really is a fundamental part of our existence, and we don't realize how much else radiates from it. Anybody I had that was taking an instrument, I could see that their attention span was better, their comprehension was better, they were better critical thinkers."

Keith Cook, ArtsReach violin instructor, Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts

"If you cut kids away from the arts, you're really giving them a half-brained education. You're not developing all of their potentials. You're also not giving them access to the greatest things human beings have done. The things societies are remembered for are the works of the Shakespeares, the Beethovens, the Leonardos, Virginia Woolf, Martha Graham, Ray Charles ..."

Howard Gardner, Hobbs professor of cognition and education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"The arts reflect society-our triumphs and struggles-and they teach us about who went before us and who we are today."

Miriam Flaherty, senior director of education, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

"Kids need the art experience because what separates us from any other animal is our desire to create, and it is uniquely human."

Cyndi Young, art teacher and parent, Louisville

"I believe that for young children, the arts are [an] essential ingredient. Young children learn holistically, so we need to have the arts included in every day of a young child's life."

Rebecca Isbell, director, East Tennessee State University Center of Excellence in Early Childhood

"Music helps students academically. It helps with math, it helps with reading; they can excel further when they've had that music background. So much of this is important to our culture-knowing about the composers and where the piano came from, just being music and art literate."

Kara Westerfield, music teacher, Utica Elementary School, Daviess County, KY

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