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A Giant in Arts Education Research Passes

Posted on: Aug 30, 2017

Blog by Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Executive Director of Americans for the Arts Action Fund

With the recent passing of U.C.L.A. Research Professor Dr. James Catterall on August 23, 2017, I am reminded of the enormous impact that he’s had on increasing arts education school budgets and policies across every state and city in the country with his longitudinal research on creativity and arts education on children conducted at U.C.L.A.  On the federal level, I can also tell you firsthand as a lobbyist of 25 years that I have delivered Dr. Catterall’s research results to every Member of Congress to make the case for additional arts education resources both in schools through the U.S. Department of Education and in nonprofit arts organizations through the National Endowment for the Arts.  He was the author of Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art: The Effects of Education in the Visual and Performing Arts on the Achievements and Values of Young Adults. His research at U.C.L.A.’s Centers for Research on Creativity, was able to persuasively associate a link between a robust arts education’s impact on the academic success of low-income, disadvantaged students and yet these very students had the least access to arts programs in schools.  It ultimately led then-U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2012, to state in a speech: “And unfortunately, the arts opportunity gap is widest for children in high-poverty schools. This is absolutely an equity issue and a civil rights issue.”