NAC Helps Keep Art in Education

The future is looking bright for arts education in Nebraska. On July 16, the US Senate voted to approve the Every Child Achieves Act, a legislative bill that has educators optimistic that strides are being taken to ensure arts education for all. In addition, Nebraska adopted Statewide Fine Arts Standards in 2014, providing K-12 educators and students with clear benchmarks for learning in dance, media arts, music, theatre and visual arts.

The Nebraska Arts Council has also played a part in the advancement of arts education in Nebraska. From July 2014 to June 2015 alone, the NAC awarded nearly 175 arts education grants, bringing artists to students and students to the arts.

“The arts are essential to imagination, creativity and innovation, and quality arts education helps to lay the foundation for these important skills,” said Anne Alston, arts education manager at the Nebraska Arts Council. “The NAC is pleased to offer an array of grants and opportunities that promote lifelong learning in the arts for Nebraskans. This includes grants to support visiting artists in schools or non-profits, field trips to arts venues, and many other kinds of educational arts activities for all age groups. Our staff welcomes your inquiries about these programs.”

Nebraska Arts Council education grants and programs include:

Artists in Schools/Communities Sponsor Grants
The Nebraska Arts Council maintains a list of 90 teaching artists who are available for educational residencies with schools and communities. Schools that apply for and receive these grants are given funds to hire one of these artists for at least 20 hours of arts instruction. During residencies, artists share their expertise and work with teachers or staff to help students achieve educational goals in the arts and other academic disciplines. Requests up to $2,500 have a floating deadline, and applicants with larger requests may apply at the October 1 or March 1 deadline.

Arts Learning Project Grants
In the spring of 2015, the NAC awarded more than $52,000 to support school and community programs with a strong educational emphasis. Projects vary widely, and range from theatre enrichment programs in schools to dance education programs designed for adults with disabilities. Grant requests can be from $2,000 to $15,000 in matching funds. Annual grant deadlines for this category are October 1 or March 1.

School Bus for the Arts Grants
Because Nebraska is a vastly rural state, the Nebraska Arts Council offers School Bus for the Arts Grants. These grants cover field trip transportation and admission fees for K-12 students to attend professional arts events and cultural exhibits, experiences that many Nebraska students don’t have due to school budget restraints and geographic location. These grants have a floating deadline.

Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry education program and recitation competition for high school students. It meets many Nebraska state standards in English Language Arts and Theatre, and all Nebraska high schools are invited to participate. Best of all, the program is available to schools entirely free of charge.

For more information on NAC arts education programs and grants, contact Anne Alston at 402-595-2122 or