The Oregon Arts Commission (OAC) released two publications shedding light on the status of arts education in Oregon.

The first, “Access to Arts Education in Oregon Schools II,” is a research-based report by Sarah K. Collins, a lead researcher at the Educational Policy Improvement Center (EPIC). Using existing school data collected by the Oregon Department of Education, the report provides state aggregate data about in-school access to standalone arts classes.

When data from the 2009-10 school year was compared with the 2010-11 school year, Oregon shows a 1 percent decrease in overall access to arts education through school-based classes. The statistic is the result of 75 schools who did not offer any arts classes in the previous year adding at least one arts class and 82 schools that used to provide arts instruction removing classes so they no longer had any arts coursework. This trend indicates a lack of stability in arts-based programming in schools.

The second publication, “Connections: Arts Learning in Oregon,” is a companion piece to the first, highlighting outstanding programs that contribute to a holistic arts education beyond school-based coursework.

Organizations like Portland Taiko, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Portland Opera take arts learning into schools around the state, adding richness to school-based programs and frequently providing access for students who might not otherwise experience the arts. Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Jackson Elementary School and Wordstock provide support for teachers and parents who want to include more arts instruction in classrooms. And Wallowa Valley Music Association and Oregon Children’s Theatre, located at opposite corners of the state, both provide tools to help students launch successful careers in the arts and beyond.

Both publications are available at

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