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Education Discovery Project

Classroom time devoted to the arts in public schools has been slipping for more than three decades due to tighter budgets, demands placed on K–12 curricula by rigorous state mandates, and an all-too-common sentiment that the arts are nice but not essential. These cuts continue as mounting empirical evidence demonstrates the importance of arts education and the valuable role it serves.

The Education Discovery Project represents a first step toward addressing the gaps in the educational experiences of our region’s schoolchildren. In an effort to best understand the needs in our schools, a research team of sociologists from the University at Buffalo, in collaboration with the staff of the AK Innovation Lab, conducted an in-depth survey of elementary and secondary school visual art teachers and school administrators in the eight counties of Western New York.

Teacher helping young students make collages in a classroom
Teacher helping high school students make prints in a classroom

The primary goal of the teacher study was to capture the current state of visual arts education from the perspective of those most directly engaged in it on a daily basis. The feedback we received offers a revealing picture of how our art teachers, and, by extension, our children, experience arts education in the classroom: the resources they rely on; the challenges they face; and their vision of what arts education is, and, most importantly, could be, in Western New York.

The findings in this report are merely the beginning of our efforts. Armed with this data, the Albright-Knox’s Innovation Lab and Education Department will strive to leverage the museum’s existing programs and resources, as well as tailor new offerings to help meet the needs of the region’s art teachers and students to ensure that quality arts education is available to all.

Initiative Sponsors

The AK Innovation Lab was founded with leadership support from The John R. Oishei Foundation, The Seymour H. Knox Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. 

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