← View All Articles

Arts-rich S.C. schools score above national mean in hope, engagement

Gallup research in 2018 shows arts’ impact on key indicators

This morning at the South Carolina Arts Advocacy Day breakfast, S.C. Arts Commission Education Director Ashley Brown released exciting new findings from a 2018 study that found high levels of engagement and hope in arts-rich South Carolina schools. The S.C. Arts Commission (SCAC) and Palmetto State Arts Education (PSAE) partnered with internationally recognized analytics firm Gallup to participate in the annual Gallup Student Poll. It measures student engagement, hope, entrepreneurial aspirations, and career and financial literacy and, in the past 10 years, surveyed more than 6 million students. According to Gallup data from 2016, engaged and hopeful students are more than twice as likely to report they get excellent grades and are twice less likely to report they missed a lot of school than their actively disengaged peers. In each of the four indicators on the poll, the students in South Carolina’s arts-rich schools outperformed the national mean. The research also showed a direct correlation between a school’s length of time as a arts-rich and an increase in student engagement and hope. And most importantly, students surveyed in arts-rich schools with free/reduced lunch program participation of 75% or greater scored higher than the state and national mean. Brown said schools are considered arts-rich when they are “committed to the arts at the cellular level.” She said both Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project and Distinguished Arts Program (DAP) sites are required to have an arts strategic plan and, in both, the arts “are simply part of the fabric of the school.” SCAC and PSAE conducted the Gallup Student poll in arts-rich schools throughout South Carolina at a mixture of ABC Project and DAP sites. “This is the first time in its history the Gallup student poll has been used to look specifically at arts-rich environments, and it is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the connection between the arts and engagement,” Brown said.
The items on the Gallup Student Poll where students from S.C. arts-rich schools scored the highest above the national mean are:
  • The adults at my school care about me
  • I have at least one teacher who makes me feel excited about the future
  • I have a great future ahead of me
  • I know I will find a good job in the future
  • I will invent something that changes the world
  • I plan to start my own business
The arts are integral to a well-rounded education that allows students to achieve the knowledge, skills, and life and career characteristics outlined in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. From creativity to problem solving, perseverance to critical thinking, learning in and through the arts is proven to equip students with the skills necessary to be engaged citizens. ABC Project and SC Arts Alliance submitted amendments and adjustments to H.3759, proposed by House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) and currently working its way through the S.C. House committee on education and public works, to ensure the arts are embraced and advanced to help every student achieve the standards set in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.
The findings from the Gallup Student Poll reinforce what those in the arts already know: From creativity to problem solving, critical thinking to perseverance, learning in and through the arts supports students as engaged and hopeful citizens of the world. This information will inform requests for additional funding in the arts, arts advocacy, and the role of the arts in education reform. This PDF of the findings from the Gallup Student Poll can be shared with community and education leaders, legislators, and educators. To learn more about this important research, visit https://www.palmettoartsed.org/gallup.html.

Grant Writing: Tips from a Pro

Arts Education Director Ashley Kerns Brown, a board member for Palmetto State Arts Education, blogged for them about the grant writing process. Can you relate to any of this? I was in graduate school when I wrote my first “big grant” and was so confident I decided to share it with an advisor about 24 hours before it was due. You know, to get a little pat on the back before submitting. So imagine my shock when she called and asked, “Have you submitted this to the University’s Department of Sponsored Research?” Cue record scratch. No. No I had not submitted it to the Department of Sponsored Research. I had no idea what the Department of Sponsored Research was or how it was about to make the next 24 hours one of the biggest learning experiences of my life. What I soon discovered was that our University’s internal process involved approval by the Department Chair (who was out of town) and the Dean (who was out on medical leave), more paperwork than the actual grant itself (including a waiver for biomedical test subjects), and an average processing time of 2-3 weeks. The University recommended submitting grants to the Department of Sponsored Research a full month before it was due, and I had 24 hours. Over those 24 hours I made a lot of people angry, broke a lot of trust, and learned a lot of lessons. Now that I am on the other end of grant making I try to share those and other lessons with teachers and arts organizations. I get how frustrating, confusing, and overwhelming grant writing can be and understand the urge to give up. But I also understand that grants can mean a child experiences the magic of theatre for the first time. They can mean an art teacher acquires the supplies to teach print making to a future designer. Grants can help narrow gaps, improve equity, and be the reason a child holds an instrument in their hands and thinks “I can do this.” Click here to read the full post by Ashley!

S.C. Arts Commission welcomes Ashley Kerns Brown as arts education director

AshleyKernsBrown800Ashley Kerns Brown has joined the staff of the South Carolina Arts Commission as arts education program director. “Ashley joins us at a pivotal time for our future work in arts education and education reform in general," said Ken May, S.C. Arts Commission executive director. “We are focused on responding to the findings of our 2014 Arts Education Task Force, which recommended new approaches to provide high quality arts education to students in high poverty areas. The House Education Task Force is focused on responding to the Abbeville school equity lawsuit and built into its recommendation a piece that relates to arts education. We have been involved in those discussions and anticipate having a role in carrying out any resulting legislation.” Brown will manage arts education programming, working closely with the Arts In Basic Curriculum (ABC) partnership, the approved artist roster, and arts education grant programs. She will develop new initiatives and build upon existing programs and partnerships that help provide a quality arts education to all children in South Carolina. A native of Greenville, S.C., Brown previously served as the education and engagement manager for Opening Nights Performing Arts at Florida State University. An accomplished teacher, she spent three years at Stone Academy of Communication Arts in Greenville, S.C., and nearly a decade at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte in Charlotte N.C. She has worked throughout the Southeast with several companies, including Off Tryon Theatre Company, S.C. Children’s Theatre, and Brevard Music Center. She received her BA in Theatre from Winthrop University and her MFA in Theatre Management from Florida State University. "I am overjoyed to return to my home state of South Carolina and am honored to join the passionate and dedicated team at the South Carolina Arts Commission,” said Brown. I look forward to working with communities, schools, civic organizations, and businesses to provide opportunities for our students to learn from and through the arts as they develop into world- class citizens.” For more information about the Arts Commission’s programs and services, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or call (803) 734-8696.