Skip to content

DOE Boosts Arts Education, with the Help of NYC Nonprofits

New York City Public Schools are making huge strides in prioritizing arts education.

The Schools Chancellor, David C. Banks, released a report on May 23, 2023 on arts in schools for the 2021-22 school year, emphasizing the importance of the arts for young people. Arts education has been proven to improve student performance in all subjects, develop important social and emotional skills, and create a sense of community both inside and outside of school.

Banks believes that the arts are an essential part of a well-rounded education. He wants to bring the power and inspiration of the arts to all students in New York City because it is known as a cultural hub of the world.

The Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, Laurie Cumbo, also supports the increased focus on arts education. She believes that the arts bring joy, help students think creatively, and allow them to discover and tap into their talents. Studies have shown that arts education is especially beneficial for students in underserved communities. It helps them communicate better, deal with difficult experiences, and succeed in school at higher rates. Cumbo is excited to see many cultural organizations partnering with schools to provide arts programs. She believes that young people in a cultural city like New York deserve access to this amazing resource.

Paul Thompson, the Executive Director of the NYC Public School Arts Office, agrees that the arts have a powerful impact on students' lives. “The arts have the immense power to save lives, and it’s vital our young people have access to the nourishment and enrichment expressing one's voice can provide. I’m proud to work hand in hand with Chancellor Banks and our partners across the city to amplify arts education for our students, creating outlets for expression and pathways to careers and lives filled with passion and purpose,” said Thompson in the DOE's official statement on the release of the study.

According to the report, there has been an increase in arts classes across all grade levels, bringing them back to pre-pandemic levels. Almost all schools surveyed provided at least one type of art class during the 2021-22 school year. Additionally, many schools worked with cultural arts organizations to enhance their programs. More than 400 organizations partnered with New York City Public Schools to provide crucial access to arts education and experiences.

The NYC Public School Arts Office also plans to launch a new initiative called the Arts Hub in the fall of 2023, where students, artists, and educators can collaborate, create, and learn together. The Arts Hub will aim to bring in world-class artists and cultural partners from across the city to inspire and support students in their artistic journeys.

In a statement to New York 1, Banks said, “Over years the arts have always been the first thing that, when tough budget times happen...we cut the arts, as though it’s somehow just an added thing and if you can have it, that’s fine, but if you can’t afford to have it, it’s always the first thing to go. But we’re going to make sure that’s not the case."