The Value of an Arts Education

A young boy learns which buttons to push on a switchboard

By: Angelica DiIorio

You often hear outcry to protect arts education in schools. It seems funding for art programming is always the first to go in budget cuts. Across the United States, millions of students have limited access to an arts education. This issue disproportionally affects students of color in major urban communities at public and charter schools. Here in Colorado, elementary and middle schools do not even have an arts education requirement until high school.

For World Art Day this month, we are taking a little time to show our support for arts education and highlight the programs we have for life-long learners. According to the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, “This World Art Day is a timely reminder that art can unite and connect us even in the most difficult of circumstances. Indeed, the power of art to bring people together, to inspire, heal and share, has become increasingly clear during recent conflicts and crises, including COVID-19.”

Learn about Opera Colorado’s education programs>>


Two people in all black outfits play the violin
Colorado Youth Sympthony Orchestras play at Family Day
Source: Opera Colorado/Jamie Kraus

The first celebration of World Art Day was April 15, 2012. The General Assembly of the International Association of Art chose this date in honor of Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday. This day highlights art in all its forms— fine arts, musical arts, performing arts, and so on. Over the years, more research has gone into finding out the value of an arts education.

Some key findings show that students with an arts education demonstrate more creativity and empathy than those without. Likewise, the arts help increase focus and self-confidence, eventually leading to higher test scores and lower dropout rates. Americans for the Arts reports, “Students who take four years of arts and music classes score an average of over 150 points higher on the SAT than students who take only one-half year or less.” Multiple professionals enumerated more benefits of arts education in interviews with USNews: stress reduction, development of socio-emotional and interpersonal skills, and bolstered academic achievement.

We see the impact of the arts every time we interact with patrons like you!


A girl with makeup for a fake black eye looks in the mirror
Student shown makeup for a ‘black eye’ at our Backstage Workshops
Source: Opera Colorado/Jamie Kraus

Anyone who has ever been in front of a room of students understands how jarring twenty-plus disinterested stares can be. We had none of that at our Backstage Workshops this spring. Students were highly engaged in all the activities. They learned about everything from the backstage ropes that pull items on set, to the life of an opera singer. A favorite station during the workshop was wigs and makeup where I have never seen a group of people more excited to get a “black eye!” Students leave the Ellie learning about the teamwork involved in creating a production and new ways of appreciating how their skills and interests can be applied.

Learn more about all the education programs have to offer>>


Two girls hold up brown papers with drawings
Two kids show their pirate maps from our 2023 Family Day Photo: Opera Colorado/Jamie Kraus

Our Family Day event, where we opened the opera house us to families for a free performance by our Artists in Residence, returned this year for the first time since 2020. Kids got a chance to create their own pirate map before seeing our touring production of The Pirates of Penzance. It was amazing how many different maps came out of the same pieces of paper and market sets, from intricate maps worthy of fantasy writers to pirate ships in space! Kids’ creativity got to thrive before they even enjoyed a performance. Then, once on stage, families came together to share a moment of beautiful music and silly stories of bumbling pirates that they will never forget.


A young boy and a woman sitting on the flood share a hug
Hugs for the Artists in Residence after their performance
Source: Opera Colorado/Jamie Kraus

Are you convinced yet that the arts are valuable? The smiling faces of our students and families seem to show that there is something special about sharing all artforms with your loved ones.

You can even bring an arts education to your own home with our wonderful Guidebooks which include information about each production and lessons aligned to Colorado Academic Standards.

Explore our Guidebooks>>

We hope you enjoy the arts near you this World Art Day with your favorite song or  a live show. You can even treat yourself with tickets to Puccini’s fantastical masterpiece, Turandot>>

How are you celebrating the arts in your life? Let us know in the comments below.

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