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Atlanta Public Schools and The Woodruff Arts Center

Monday, January 23, 2017 

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and The Woodruff Arts Center Team Up To Study The Effect of the Arts On Students’ Health, Social and Emotional Well-Being


National Endowment for the Arts, Zeist Foundation Provide Support For Groundbreaking Study
Atlanta, January 23, 2017 – Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and the Woodruff Arts Center are working together on a new study to determine the impact of the arts on students’ health and social and emotional well-being.


A team of researchers from the University of Arkansas, led by Professor Jay P. Greene, is conducting the study, with financial support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Atlanta-based Zeist Foundation. The NEA and the University of Arkansas announced details of the study last month.

News Release


“We have made social and emotional learning an important part of the educational experience we offer our students,” said Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. “We believe this study will provide us with tremendous learning about the benefits of what we’re doing and how we can make it even more impactful in the future.”


The study with APS schools involves all fourth and fifth grade students in the Therrell High School cluster. Half of the 700 students from these grades will experience each of the Woodruff Arts Center’s art forms over the course of a school year — an Alliance Theatre performance, an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra concert and an exhibition tour and workshop at the High Museum of Art. The other half of the students will experience only one of the three art forms. Teachers in the impacted classes also receive specific training as part of the study.


Surveys will be administered to students to collect information on a variety of social cognition outcomes, including perspective, tolerance and interest in arts activities. “The support for this study from the National Endowment for the Arts is tremendous validation for the concept and the impact the arts can have on students,” said Chris Moses, the Dan Reardon Director of Education and Associate Artistic Director for the Alliance Theatre. “We’re testing whether multiple artistic experiences can have an impact on students’ lives and essentially develop more empathetic people. The findings from the study will provide important learning for both educators and the entire arts community across the country.”


Mr. Moses, along with Virginia Shearer, the Eleanor McDonald Storza Director of Education for the High Museum of Art and Holly Hudak, Senior Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, are working with APS and the University of Arkansas research team in conducting the study.


The grant from the NEA to the University of Arkansas team was one of only four grants awarded out of 44 applications from universities nationwide. In 2013, the same University of Arkansas team researched and published results of a nationally recognized study on the impact of the arts on students attending Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark. The current study with APS and the Woodruff Arts Center broadens the research to include other art forms.

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