New Mexico First Blog

Report released: NM Arts Focus Group Report: Fine Arts Education

New Mexico First is pleased to announce the release of the New Mexico Arts Focus Group Report: Fine Arts Education in Public Middle and High Schools. This report concludes the second of three phases initiated by NM Arts , a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs, to improve and expand arts education for public middle and high school students.

The focus group’s recommendations include:

  • Coordinating and aligning New Mexico’s creative communities and organizations
  • Garnering policymaker support for expanded arts education by demonstrating overall benefits of fine arts to student performance and long-term career success
  • Seeking diverse funding streams, public and private
  • Meaningfully integrating arts education through community partnerships, workforce development, structured counseling in schools and implementation of fine arts standards and graduation requirements

The work of this focus group and the future taskforce is timely. Namely, (1) the federal ESSA law provides funds to support arts programming in public schools, (2) the state has adopted national arts standards to guide New Mexico schools and educators, and (3) economists have challenged business, government and nonprofit sectors to harness the strengths of our state’s unique arts and cultural traditions and realize our creative economy’s economic potential.

There is more to be done to expand arts education for middle and high school students. However, the thoughtful ideas presented in this report will prove guidance for arts education leaders, educators, and policymakers.

In 2017, NM Arts began a three-phase project to improve and expand arts education for public middle and high school students in New Mexico. The initial phase involved New Mexico First disseminating a survey to public middle and high school administrators to ascertain the status of fine arts education in New Mexico. A half-day focus group facilitated by New Mexico First undertook the work of the second phase, in which members worked with other arts in education stakeholders to identify current gaps in arts education in public middle and high schools, identify opportunities for enhancing arts education and provide guidance for a year-long arts in the education implementation task force.

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