Drawing Lessons from the Studio to School Initiative

What We've Learned

Over the five years of the Studio to School Initiative—through the learning community in addition to countless conversations and visits with the project teams—we witnessed incredible change and growth in the people, organizations, schools and communities engaged in these 18 projects.

Each project team had unique intentions, goals and plans. The projects’ focus, scope, scale and reach depended on the interests, needs and strengths of each team, arts organization and school. Each project was also rooted in its place and shaped by the students, artists and teachers who live there.

Visual arts class at Sisters Elementary School.

Shared Lessons

Although the Studio to School projects were diverse and distinct, they had some common values, goals, strengths and challenges. Because these commonalities arose naturally despite project differences, we believe that the lessons learned may be useful to other arts education programs.

Many of these lessons are reflected in the Studio to School principles, a set of guiding statements developed by the learning community that describe what mattered to the success of Studio to School projects and their key ingredients for the pursuit of high-quality, sustainable, equitable arts education.

To learn how these lessons (and others) played out in specific projects, see the Studio to School SPOTLIGHTS.
To find out how you can apply what we’ve learned, see the evaluation recommendations.

Lessons learned

Context matters.
Relationships are central.
Responsive, culturally specific arts opportunities keep programs relevant to students and families.
Linking arts opportunities creates valuable pathways for students.
Making arts opportunities available does not ensure equitable access.
Success takes time and experimentation.
Change is constant for schools and arts organizations.
Endemic poverty can shape school and community priorities.
Arts education can support the priorities of teachers, schools and districts.
School leaders are essential champions for arts education.
Some schools and classroom teachers want to incorporate arts education but face barriers to doing so.
Community pride and celebration build momentum for arts education.