Drawing Lessons from the Studio to School Initiative

Moving Forward

As the Studio to School Initiative unfolded, we evolved together as a learning community, sharing challenges and successes, and applying what we learned to improve programs and better serve students.

At OCF, we focused on building trust and relationships with project teams, thinking critically about the space and support the projects needed to grow and learn, and adjusting some initial expectations. In this way, we learned a lot about what was possible in arts education and about many of the underlying issues that prevent arts education from thriving across Oregon.

Creating a mural at Sunset School family night in Coos Bay (Coos Art Museum).

Our key realizations

We recognize that the kind of support provided by Studio to School—both in its learning community and in its longer-term funding—is rare. As Studio to School came to a close, we reflected on how it brought lasting change to some schools, organizations and communities, and how fragile the progress made was in others. Regardless of where projects stood at the end of the Initiative, the lessons we learned along the way apply to ongoing and future arts education efforts.

Incredible, multifaceted, revolutionary arts education is happening in communities across Oregon, driven by visionary champions.
The Studio to School principles can help share and scale what we learned through the Initiative.
The length and approach of the Initiative promoted evolution, risk-taking and responsiveness.
We struggled to center equity in the learning community and across projects because we did not have a clear goal specific to equity.
Some aspects of the Initiative design and learning community ran counter to our intention to advance equity.
Despite a lack of shared understanding or prioritization of equity, individual projects supported and expanded equitable access to arts education.
Oregon has a long way to go to make arts education more equitable.
Local sustainability may be an unrealistic expectation.
Change takes time and ongoing dedication.

After-school guitar instruction at La Pine Middle School (Sunriver Music Festival).

Applying what we’ve learned

What we have learned together is already shaping our work as well as that of the arts organizations and schools involved in Studio to School, as we all strive to improve the equity, quality and sustainability of arts education in Oregon.

Here’s what we’ve been up to since Studio to School ended in fall 2019.

Nurturing a broader network of arts education champions.
The Improving Arts Education Initiative (2019-2021)
Trusting communities and supporting local efforts.
Working to center students.
Continually building our understanding of arts education needs and opportunities.
Shifting to a focus on systems change.

How can you move arts education in Oregon forward?

Everyone has a role to play when it comes to strengthening arts education in our state. For arts education to thrive, it needs support from families, students, teachers, school administrators, community organizations, artists and leaders at all levels and in all types of communities.


Public officials, funders, education leaders, arts leaders & students can:

Center students, particularly students of color, students from low-income families, and students from under-resourced rural communities.
Learn more about the benefits of arts education, and become a vocal champion.
Advocate for arts education as vital to a well-rounded education.
Develop a shared, ambitious, strengths-based vision for arts education in Oregon.
Advance other educational and workforce priorities with and through the arts.
Promote arts education as a critical element to sustaining and growing a healthy, robust and diverse arts economy.
Encourage statewide leadership, data collection and information-sharing about arts education.
Support shared learning and professional development for arts educators.
Secure stable and adequate funding for arts education.

Specific Recommendations

For public officials
For funders
For local and regional school leaders
For community-based arts organizations and teaching artists
For students and their families