Open Forum

A new national campaign on behalf of theatre and other arts education

By James Palmarini posted 01-15-2021 10:24



It has been a year like no other in education. As a theatre educator, like all other teachers, the pandemic demanded that you pivot your instruction and do your best to ensure meaningful learning outcomes for your students -- whether in a virtual, hybrid, or altered classroom environment where safety was the highest priority. Performance opportunities for students, so fundamental to the art, needed to be reimagined online and you and many of your fellow theatre teachers did that, creating innovative theatrical stories that engaged both the students and their home-bound audiences. Thank you for that — you are heroes!

The challenges ahead

Now, as the 2020-21 school year moves toward an end, we must prepare to meet challenges that lie ahead for 2021-22 if arts education is to remain central to every student’s well-rounded education. School districts will be facing budget shortfalls due to state and local deficits caused by the pandemic recession. These cutbacks -- along with the costs associated with the continued need for Personal Protective Equipment in performing arts classrooms, a focus on remedial curriculum, and scheduling modifications to address learning loss -- will likely impact student access to theatre and other arts education.  

Funding for arts education must be maintained to support the well-being of all students and their school communities. 

A campaign on behalf of arts education in our schools

Inspired by the “Arts Education is Essential,” statement released last April, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) has launched Arts ARE Education (ARE), a new national campaign advocating for funding, maintaining, and growing PreK-12 arts education programs in the 2021-22 school year and beyond. 

To activate the campaign, we are reaching out to encourage arts teachers such as yourself and school boards to indicate support for arts education in their districts through three documents:

  • The Arts ARE Education Resolution, which asks school boards to resolve that the district will continue to fund and provide appropriate resources in support of arts education programs in a manner proportionate to all other subjects that are part of a well-rounded education, as defined by federal law.
  • The Arts ARE Education Pledge that the campaign asks you, as an in-the-trenches arts educator, to sign demonstrating your own commitment to the district’s arts education programs.
  • The Dear Legislator Letter in which we are asking you reach out directly to your state representatives, asking them to fully fund public education for the next school year and to urge the schools in their district to support funding for arts education programs.

Why do this now?

The school budget process has likely already begun in your district or will soon. Preliminary budget are often ready for public review and comment in February and final presentation and approval occurring in March. We need school districts to pass the Arts ARE Education Resolution now, resolving that they will maintain arts education funding and programming in the 2021-22 school year.

What can I do?

Visit the Arts ARE Education website to explore and find out how you can use the downloadable tools and resources available to support your grassroots advocacy on behalf of theatre and other arts education. And coming up in March:  As part of the ARE campaign’s Arts Education Capitol Hill Month, EdTA will sponsor a series of training webinars to help theatre advocates prepare for virtual meetings with their Congressional legislators during Theatre Education Capitol Hill Week March 22-26. More details to come about how you can get involved.  

Thank you for your service as an educator and supporter of the Arts Are Education campaign. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me at, or