Assets through the Arts

The arts play an important role in learning, child development and the improvement of Alaska’s schools. Arts education and community partnerships have proven to be highly effective tools for building assets in youth, creating positive youth-adult relationships and enriching children’s lives.

The annual Artist Training of Promoters workshop facilitated by AASB staff each spring offered participants the chance to apply for project funding in their home communities. AASB/Alaska ICE provided the arts assets trainings for eight years (2004 – 2012) and made several community youth-adult art projects possible with ICE federal funding.  Community projects for the 2012-13 school year are still underway.

Find out more about the Arts TOPs and community arts projects here.

Another Alaska ICE stipend offering that combines youth-adult collaboration is youth-led service projects. Several projects over the years have used art as the vehicle to enrich and strengthen community ties. Examples can be found here.


A growing body of research is proving what arts advocates have always known: arts education helps children to develop and learn, and to acquire the assets they need to succeed. The arts help children develop vital, higher-level skills that are essential to success in school and the workplace. In addition, an arts education helps students to learn other subjects and the assessment methods used in the arts can better measure achievement in these subjects.

Why the Arts? [a pdf presentation by Lorrie Heagy (Alaska Teacher of the Year for 2011) on the impact the arts have on students – academically, socially, and cognitively.]

To ensure strong, effective and innovative arts education programs across the state, Alaska ICE has collaborated with the Alaska Arts Education Consortium (AAEC) as a member and to share resources and responsibilities for various art institutes and workshops to bring Alaska’s teachers training and support in the arts to help them meet curriculum goals. We continue to seek opportunities to work together in the future to expand our efforts in arts education.

Art Matters in the Bering Strait School District (by Kim Sweeny)
Instruction in and through the arts produces positive academic and social effects. The essential thinking tools of recognizing and developing patterns, creating mental representations, carefully observing the world, and creating symbolic representations are all realized through arts instruction, especially when it is integrated with core curriculum. (Rabkin & Redmond, 2004).


“We need purpose, place and meaning in education in Alaska. Our children and youth need to ‘step out,’ have visions and dreams, do things differently, gain confidence and become risk takers. Students NEED the arts. The arts can change children’s lives.”

– former Alaska Commissioner of Education


Tiles from Dillingham community mural

Alaska ICE has consistently found the arts a highly effective tool for building assets in youth, creating positive youth-adult relationships, engaging students in learning, and strengthening relationships between schools and communities. Alaska ICE sponsors trainings for artists, educators and community members to promote community engagement through the arts, and funds youth-adult projects that build assets and promote community engagement. AASB also partners with the Alaska Arts Education Consortium to promote the integration of the arts into schools and classrooms through professional development for educators.

A clearinghouse of arts education research can be found at artsedsearch.org.  The site organizes the research into a matrix for students and educators, from early childhood through adulthood, and in both in-school and out-of-school settings.

Find more arts research through Glacier Valley’s Art is Elementary website. Glacier Valley is also the home of Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), an El Sistema-inspired music program that offers Juneau’s youth early access to instrumental instruction through school and community partnerships..  Find out more about JAMM here.


Links to Arts Resources:

Resource Guide for Young Artists
ARTSEDGE — the National Arts and Education Network
Keep Arts in Schools
Alaska State Council on the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts
Americans for the Arts
Alaska Arts Education Consortium

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