Creative Arts Heal & Transform Lives


girlsdrawing The arts serve as a powerful way for kids who have suffered the trauma of abuse, neglect, homelessness and other challenges to express their innermost feelings. They learn to channel their emotions and begin the healing process.

The first federal study of research data on the effectiveness of arts education in over a decade, “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future through Creative Schools” (May 2011) found that when students participate in the arts they are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, have higher GPA/SAT scores, and demonstrate a 56 percent improvement in spatial-temporal IQ scores. They show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12, are more engaged and cooperative with teachers and peers, and are more self-confident and better able to express their ideas. These benefits are particularly pronounced in high-poverty, low-performing schools, and work in tandem with other pedagogical approaches.

Another study “The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth” completed in March 2012 by the NEA reports that (1) Socially and economically disadvantaged children and teenagers who have high levels of arts engagement or arts learning show more positive outcomes in a variety of areas than their low-arts-engaged peers, (2) At-risk teenagers or young adults with a history of intensive arts experiences show achievement levels closer to, and in some cases exceeding, the levels shown by the general population studied, (3) Most of the positive relationships between arts involvement and academic outcomes apply only to at-risk populations (low-SES). But positive relationships between arts and civic engagement are noted in high-SES groups as well.

According to a study conducted by the British Columbia School of Art Therapy, the arts are crucial to the healing of abused children.

  • Creative art expression enhances self-esteem through mastery over media.
  • Art allows a child the distance needed to build trust with an adult.
  • Art heals through the child’s increased ability to control self and media.
  • Art provides a safe outlet for expression of regressive impulses, anger, and other difficult feelings.
  • The art process promotes insight and reduces defensiveness.

Some children have no language to describe their thoughts and feelings; visual expression, music, dance and other creative outlets offer a greater range of effective vocabulary than is possible through verbalization.

There has been extensive scientific research done that shows how art heals, and also how it deeply impacts our economy. We recommend that you visit these websites for additional information:

The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences

Learning Arts and the Brain

Report on the Creative Economy in the Los Angeles Regions