Why & How You Should Support Student Art

By Danielle Wirsansky on July 24, 2019

Art is all around us. It is a part of almost every aspect of daily life. Yet it is so often underrated. The emphasis, especially for students, is placed on business and STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The arts are often shunned, given limited or funding or the first item to go on the chopping block at a school that needs to tighten its belt financially.

There is often less funding for students interested in the arts and humanities, fewer scholarships and fewer opportunities. And people (especially parents) often give students that are interested or involved in the arts more of a hassle.

Why are the arts the first thing a school cuts in times of financial need? While school administers realize that the Fine Arts are important in schools, they do not believe they are fundamental to the curriculum. Many educators, parents, and sometimes even students alike have a lack of understanding as to why the arts might be important to a student’s education, or beyond that, their personal development. Another reason that arts programs are often the first to go is simply that their impact is not or cannot be measured by standardized tests.

But the arts are incredibly important, all the way around, for so many different reasons. And student art just might be some of the most important art of all.

Infographic by Danielle Wirsansky

Why Is Student Art Important?

Students, whether they be elementary school children and young adults in college, should always be engaged in art of one kind or another. The arts are so incredibly important for so many reasons, it is hard to narrow them all down. But art can help a student in so many ways.

Economic Impact

First, it must be understood that the arts are important for all people, and not just students. The way it affects us all? Through the economy.

In 2017, Americans for the Arts, a leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America, released a national study that found … that the nation’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity in 2015—$63.8 billion in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $102.5 billion in event-related spending by their audiences. This activity supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in government revenue.”

That is a huge amount of money and economic stimulation!

Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, best explained the incredible results of this survey. “By every measure, the results of Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 prove that the arts are an industry—a generator of government revenue, a cornerstone of tourism, and an employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation. Leaders who care about the community and economic vitality, growing tourism, attracting an innovative workforce and community engagement can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts.”

Almost every aspect of the economy is touched by the arts—it is hard to get away from it! And supporting student art is an incredible way to invest in the arts!

Personal Development

Another reason why the arts are so important, especially to students who are still forming and building the basis of their identity and career, is the personal development that participating in the arts can bring about.

Americans for the Arts did a 2018 study that showed that being involved in the arts can help people to develop a clearer identity and achieve better unity with others in their community. Apparently, 73% of people agreed that the arts help them understand other cultures better while 72% believe the arts unify communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity. The results also showed that the benefits that the arts provide are not limited to the wealthy, educated, or a racial or ethnic group but instead cut across all demographics and help all people.

Other important statistics that this study provided helped cement just how much art can influence personal development. The study showed that 69% of the population believe the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences”, that 73% feel the arts give them “pure pleasure to experience and participate in”, and 81% of participants say the arts are a “positive experience in a troubled world.”

Other interesting aspects of how art helps to create personal development in students specifically is that it can help cultivate creative problem solving skills, boost critical thinking,  and increase engagement (particularly in the classroom). The list goes on and on!

Photo by Daian Gan from Pexels

Developing the Future

More than just personal development, art goes even further—it even helps us to develop the future! How, you might be thinking? Well, the saying goes, children are our future. So if we do not help the personal development of our children and students, are we really making all the effort that we could be in developing the future?

Let’s dive in a little deeper into how student art helps contribute to a developing future.

For one, studies also show that “young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair, or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.”

Other studies showed that students engaged in the arts have experienced a 22.5 %and 12.6% improvement in math and reading proficiency and that schools with a greater art education presence generally exhibited better standardized test scores.

Students engaged in the arts only reap the benefits rather than suffer any repercussions for their involvement. So when we support students involved in art, we are supporting a better future for ourselves and for future generations.

Immeasurable Benefits

The list of how the arts can benefit students could really go on and on and on. The arts have social impact, drive creative industries, spark creativity and innovation, drive tourism and revenue to local businesses, and more. Studies show that “arts engagement increases happiness, confidence, self-esteem and reduces stress and social isolation.”

What have you got to lose by supporting student art?

How Can You Support Student Art?

Now that you understand why supporting the arts, and particularly student art, is so important, the next big question to tackle is how can you support student art?

There are so many ways to do so!

These suggestions are more geared towards how to support collegiate student art, but can definitely be applied to all kinds of student art. Do your best to support all kinds of art at all different levels!

Come To As Many Things As You Can

The absolute best way that you can support student art is to attend as many events as you can. If you are a fellow student, your schedule may be pretty packed. You have classes, a job, homework, and a social life to juggle all at the same time. But whenever you have time to slip into an event and support student art, you should try and do so!

Have a few minutes to kill before class? Thumb through your campus’ most recent edition of the school newspaper or literary magazine (if your school has one). Meeting your friends for lunch? Why not take a gander at a student art gallery or exhibit before your meal (to give you something to talk about while you eat) or after your meal (to give you tie to digest)? Got an evening free? Go see your school’s musical! Looking for good, cheap entertainment? Stop by your school’s open mic night!

There are so many different kinds of art and so many different ways to get involved that you are sure to find an element of it that interests you and would enrich your life after seeing it. You do not have to go to every student art event. In fact, it is impossible. But making a point to see or participate in it when you can is incredibly important and a huge boon to those student artists!

Donate As Little Or As Much As You Can

College students are known for being legendarily broke, aka penniless, without a dime to their name. Many students feel like they cannot support student art because they can barely support themselves. If you have the funds to support your favorite artists by buying their music or to chip in for a cool Kickstarter project, you definitely have the ability to donate to student artists as well.

But it is not about how much you can donate (though of course, a large donation is always greatly appreciated). It is way more about the fact that you actually made any contribution at all.

It can be incredibly heartening for student artists to receive a donation, no matter how small, at one of their events. So you only had a few dollars—who cares? No one knows how to stretch a buck like a college student, and no variety of the college student more than the student artist. So what you might see as a small, insignificant contribution could actually be the difference between whether a student artist can continue sharing their work—or not. And it might make the difference for an artist that is discouraged and unsure if they should continue on if you do.

Do Not Be Afraid To See Something Weird Or Experimental

Another great way to see student art is to not just see what might be considered “mainstream” student art, like the school musical or chorus recital. Those are, of course, very important to and this is not meant to knock those artistic events and endeavors. But often the student art that needs the most love is that which is more experimental (or what others might perceive as more weird).

Like this article mentioned before, children are the future. So students experimenting with new forms and outlets for their art are also the face and future of that art. That is not to say that you should attend or support student art that you do not like or that makes you feel uncomfortable. But it always a good thing to occasionally venture out of your comfort zone. And what might seem weird or out of the box at the outset might end up being something really cool in the future, and you might have been one of the few people to see it!

Remember, Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton, originally developed his first major musical, In the Heights, in college—it was seen by alumni of his university who had good connections and they helped it make its way onto Broadway!

You never know what you might stumble across or what your attendance might mean.

Give Affirmation  

Affirmation is a very important part of an artist’s life. It can be hard for an artist, especially a student artist who is struggling to get their foot in the door, that their art is worth it, that their time has been well spent, and what they have created has value. Many can see it for themselves but trying to find your voice can be an isolating experience.

Your attendance is often enough to give an artist the affirmation they are looking for. By giving an artist your time and attention, two both very precious commodities, you are giving their work validation.

However, you can even go a step further and vocalize that affirmation. Saw a friend perform in an improv show? That is so great that you attended. Did you wait till the show ended and tell them in person how great they did or how well done the show was? Did you have to leave early, but send your friend a message telling them what an awesome job they did? Did you write on the facebook event’s page how much you enjoyed it or share a status about it as you were leaving? There are so many little things you can do to vocalize your support and truly affirm your support of student art.


By now, you should have a better understanding of the significance the arts can have for students and some guidelines on how to better support student artists. Now that you know and are armed with this knowledge, get out there and support that art!

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