This past Tuesday, People for Education released a report showing that equitable access to arts programs and resources is an ongoing challenge in Ontario. The report noted that school budgets for the arts range from less than $500 to $100,000 and students in small and rural schools, in schools with higher levels of poverty, and in schools with lower levels of parental education, are less likely to have access to learning opportunities in the arts. Some key findings from the report:
- the size of a school’s budget significantly impacts access to resources and learning opportunities in the arts
- there is a clear link between the amount schools fundraise and the size of their arts budgets
- in in 2018% only 46% of schools report having a music teacher, up from 41% last year but down from 58% of schools 20 years ago
- elementary schools with high parental education are twice as likely to have a specialist music teacher than schools with low parental education
- rural schools are less likely to have specialist drama, visual arts and music teachers
- only 43% of grade 3 and 39% of grade 6 students participate in art, music or drama activities outside of the school day
Given the widely recognized importance of arts education in supporting student engagement, creativity and social development, with the latter two qualities included in the Ministry of Education’s 21st Century Competencies, it is crucial that we begin to address these systemic inequities in the education system.
I have seen some interesting examples of equitable access to arts education being addressed through systems change initiatives in Houston through the Arts Access Initiative and in Chicago through the Ingenuity initiative.. Have you seen this type of inequity being addressed successfully elsewhere?