It’s thumbs up from our Facebook and Twitter followers for student art, which we have been previewing before the opening of our exhibition for next month’s International Society for Education through Art (InSEA) conference in Melbourne. We thank students and teachers for their work.
We are also gratified by the strong response we have received on social media. As I wrote in December, not long after we launched our Facebook page, social media works because it creates connections to bring people together. The ‘likes’, comments and shares show that our followers love the regular #ArtworkWednesday feature.
In 2010, Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in the United States, said new ‘technology is often seen as a cheaper, easier, virtual version of something real’. However, he said, it had not led to the death of the art form, but instead contributed to its spread and helped create new audiences.
About two years later the Australia Council updated its social media policy, recognising the importance of social media in supporting and promoting the arts.
Art has value in of itself, but there are good reasons to support arts in education. Research in Australia and overseas shows that it can enhance skills to support learning outcomes in all curriculum areas and help develop self-expression and team building.
University of Sydney researchers who studied 643 primary and secondary students from 15 schools over two years found compelling evidence that the arts should be central to schooling and not left on the fringes.
Participation in arts and music programs has been shown to improve literacy, positive school engagement and the social and emotional wellbeing of students, with school absenteeism dropping by up to 65 per cent.
An Australia Council report provides other practical reasons for supporting arts in education. Australia fosters innovation and creativity, which industry needs to remain viable, providing sustainable careers for artists. Official figures indicate that the arts sector’s annual contribution to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product exceeds that of the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries.
Creating Connections, the exhibition for the InSEA conference, is open to the public at Shell House, 1 Spring Street Melbourne during business hours, Monday to Friday, from 3 July to18 July. At the same location you can see our regular annual schools’ art exhibition from 29 July to August 29.