arts education

Federal Funding for Arts Education

Background on Arts Education Advocacy

Assistance for Arts Education

The Assistance for Arts Education (AAE) program at the U.S. Department of Education is authorized under Title IV of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It continues the programs previously authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education act as the “Arts in Education” program:

  • Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination
  • Professional Development for Arts Educators
  • National Grant Competition

The Department’s arts education programs have received consistent, annual, bipartisan support from Congress. In FY 2016, Congress approved  $27 million for the Arts in Education program, a $2 million increase, making possible a new round of competitive grants.

The program is still funded at $27 million under the FY17 Continuing Resolution currently in place. PAA is asking Congress for $30 million for the Assistance for Arts Education programs in FY18.

See the Arts Education Issue Brief for more details.

Every Student Succeeds Act 

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became law in December 2015, re-writing the federal education law known as “No Child Left Behind (NCLB).” ESSA aims to provide all elementary and secondary students with fair and equal opportunities to achieve a high quality education, and the law includes several provisions ensuring the opportunity for students to access arts education. The U.S. Department of Education and state departments of education are currently producing new federal regulations and state accountability plans to implement ESSA. Education leaders in Congress have pledged to provide oversight as each state sets new directions with expanded responsibilities.

A major change in the law is that while NCLB listed the “arts” as a “core academic subject,” ESSA instead lists the “arts” and “music”–alongside reading, math, and a host of other subjects–in the federal definition of a “well-rounded education.”

See the ESSA Issue Brief for more details.

What's at Stake

While the Performing Arts Alliance keeps you up-to-date on federal advocacy opportunities, remember that your advocacy at the state and local levels will make the critical difference in increasing support for arts education in your community. The most important education policy decisions are made at the local level, in your community, by your state legislators and school boards.

The best advocate for arts education is you: the artist, the staff member, the audience.  Use our Action Alert to send a message to your federal lawmakers in support of federal policies that will provide a complete arts education for every child, in every school.

Back to top

What We're Asking For Right Now

We urge Congress to:

  • Appropriate $30 million for the Assistance for Arts Education (AAE) programs in the FY 2018 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill.
  • Fully fund and implement the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants under Title IV, Part A of ESSA.
  • Strengthen equitable access to arts learning through the following actions:
    • Make explicit the opportunity for the arts to help achieve Title I objectives
    • Thoroughly implement the professional development opportunities for arts educators and school leaders in Title II of ESSA
    • Thoroughly implement the expanded STEM program eligibility for the arts in Title IV, Part A of ESSA
    • Fully fund the 21st Century Community Learning Centers
Back to top

Recent Activity

Senate HELP Committee to Consider New ESEA Draft

This is an important week for arts education in the Senate! The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee is considering a draft bill (the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015) and amendments to update the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), our nation’s education law. The arts community wants the arts to be ensured a place in every child’s education in the new ESEA.

Arts education is at stake in this draft bill: it does not include funding for the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education, nor does it include funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program which funds afterschool and summertime learning programs which include the arts. Fortunately, it does retain the definition of core academic subjects including the arts! This is a win: this designation makes arts education programs eligible for federal funding such as Title I. 

If your senator serves on the HELP committee, he or she needs to hear from you this week.

Chairman Alexander’s ESEA Reauthorization Discussion Draft

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) new chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released this month a discussion draft entitled “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015” regarding the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The No Child Left Behind Act is the current authorization of this law.

The public can comment on Sen. Alexander’s discussion draft. Comments can be submitted The submission deadline is Monday, February 2. 

DoE Awards $13.4 Million in Arts Education Grants

The U.S. Department of Education announced this month this year’s recipients of grants through its Arts in Education (AIE) program. The program awards grants in two areas: Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination and Professional Development for Arts Educators.  This cycle awarded $13.4 million to 34 school districts and non-profit education organizations nationwide. See the list of grantees and their awards here on the DoE’s website. 

Back to top


Looking for older information on this issue? Please visit the Archive