Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Celebrating all of the arts in our public schools

March is “Arts In Our Schools” month. In our public schools, the arts includes music, dance, theatre arts, visual arts, and more.

A lot is going on in North Carolina and nationally to celebrate, and there are a lot of ways for you to get involved and participate, including a video challenge!

Bur first, we want to highlight three things for you.

The NC Arts Education Leadership Coalition (AELC), a statewide coalition of professional arts organizations addressing the needs of K-12 arts education in North Carolina, has an amazing data dashboard on arts and education for all of the public schools across the state.

EdNC would love to hear from arts educators across North Carolina about the great things you and your students are doing in your classrooms and schools. Use #NCAiOSM to share your favorite examples of student work, and tag us @EducationNC. We will be sending out EdNC tumblers to our 10 favorite posts.

Most importantly, your voice matters when it comes to arts and education.

This month, the N.C. Department of Instruction’s arts education team is accepting comments — from educators, administrators, parents, students, institutions of higher education, business/industry representatives, national organizations, and other education agencies — on draft 2 of the revised academic standards for arts education through March 31. Please take the survey.

While “Arts In Our Schools” month raises awareness about the importance of arts and education in our public schools, student access to well-resourced opportunities is important each and every day.

Student art at Old Fort Elementary in McDowell County Schools. Mebane Rash/EducationNC

State leaders support the arts in our schools

Gov. Roy Cooper issued this proclamation:

Superintendent Catherine Truitt said, “the arts, and particularly music, continue to hold a special place in my heart,” sharing that she attended a performing arts high school and studied classical piano for more than 16 years and that her father continues to serve as a middle school band director — at age 77.

DPI’s spotlight on arts education and other resources

DPI will spotlight students and arts education throughout March. A livestream of the following performances will be available on DPI’s YouTube channel.

Courtesy of DPI

Check out DPI’s arts education website, Comprehensive Arts Education Guide, and NC Arts Education newsletter, which is available for public sign up.

Courtesy of DPI

To support arts education, arts exposure, and arts integration, DPI works with the NC Symphony, NC Art Museum, NC Arts Council, A+ Schools of North Carolina, and NC Arts Education Leadership Coalition (AELC).

How national organizations are celebrating

It’s an important month for advocates who care about arts and education. These are the national organizations highlighted in the governor’s proclamation.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) is celebrating the 39th annual Music In Our Schools Month®.

The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) is celebrating Theatre in Our Schools month. There is more information on resources these organizations provide for advocates and how to get involved below.

The National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) is celebrating Dance In Our Schools month. Here is the NDEO website, and you can follow NDEO on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, now X.

The Council for Art Education is celebrating Youth Art Month. Here is the CFAE website, and you can follow CFAE on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, now X. The N.C. Art Educator Association promotes and improves “the quality of visual arts education in the state of North Carolina,” focused on leadership, service, and advocacy.

Ongoing national initiatives to know about

The national “Arts Are Education” initiative supports arts education for all students.

The National Art Education Association has a five-year grant to create nationwide virtual Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) with educators in visual arts, music, theater, dance, and media arts called Connected Arts Networks (CAN). Zoom in to see the schools in North Carolina participating in CAN in this map:

And the Arts Education Partnership is a national network of more than 200 organizations dedicated to advancing arts education. Here is the AEP website, and you can follow AEP on Facebook and Twitter, now X. AEP offers a 50-state scan of arts and education policies.

Pamlico County High School. Mebane Rash/EducationNC

How you can get involved in arts and education

The North Carolina Arts Council

The N.C. Arts Council leads and invests in innovations in arts education, including A+ Schools; Poetry Out Loud; TAPS, a hands-on afterschool program; and artist residency grants.

The council curates this comprehensive list of arts education resources in North Carolina and nationally.

A+ Schools

“Established in North Carolina in 1995, A+ Schools is a signature program of the North Carolina Arts Council. A+ is the longest-running, arts-based whole-school reform model in the nation,” according to the council’s website.

On Dec. 5, 2023, Cooper visited an A+ school, Pinewood Elementary in Mount Holly in the Gaston County Schools.

“There is no doubt that fine arts makes a difference in the lives of students,” said Principal Kimberly Reece. “How much our students have progressed over the past few years is proof that integrating the arts across the curriculum has a direct influence on student achievement.”

Want to see where the A+ schools in North Carolina are located?

Courtesy of N.C. Arts Council

For more information, check out this directory of 66 A+ art schools.

National Association for Music Education (NAfME)

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) “is a collaborative community that supports music educators and advocates for equitable access to music education,” according to the website.

Here are all of NAfME’s resources for Music In Our Schools Month®, including lesson plans. The theme this year is “I see me. I see music education.”

Courtesy of NAfME

NAfME invites you to share your music story. Why is music education important to you? How has music impacted your life? How do you see yourself as a musician?

On March 11, 2024, NCfME is holding “Harmony on Capitol Hill: Celebrating 39 Years of Music In Our Schools Month.®

Follow NCfME on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, now X, and use the #MIOSM #MusicIsMe.

NC Music Educators Association (NCMEA), the NC affiliate, “has been the voice of music education in North Carolina since 1970.” Check out their video challenge!

Have you seen those videos on IG or Tiktok that say “I’m a ……so of course I…..?” Well, we challenge you to make one! You can share it on social media, and hashtag #MIOSM2024 and tag @ncmea. Props if you create a video that says “It’s Music In Our Schools Month, so of course I’m…….!

NCMEA spotlights teachers, and publishes the North Carolina Music Educator Journal.

Courtesy of NCMEA

Follow NCMEA on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, now X.

Educational Theatre Association (EdTA)

“The Educational Theatre Association is an international nonprofit that serves as the professional association for theatre educators,” according to the website.

#TheatreInOurSchools (TIOS) is a joint venture between the EdTA and the American Alliance for Theatre & Education.

TIOS resources include a guide to “raise public awareness of the powerful impact theatre education has on students and to draw attention to the need for quality theatre education programs for all students.”

Other TIOS resources include 31 facts about theatre education for each day of March; campaign graphics, including logos, ads, and posters; media outreach, including letters to the editor and press releases; and an amazing learning center with resources for teachers.

Courtesy of EdTA

Nominations for annual awards for notable accomplishments in theatre education are due April 1.

Follow EdTA on Instagram and Facebook.

North Carolina Thespians is the NC chapter, and you can follow them on Instagram and Facebook. Check out this list of life skills gained from theatre:

Courtesy of Theatre In Our Schools and NC Thespians.

The NC Theatre Arts Educators is also affiliated with EdTA and since 1997 has sought “to advance the quality and scope of theatre education in North Carolina schools through professional development, collaboration, and empowerment of Theatre Arts Educators.”

North Carolina Theatre Conference

The NC Theatre Conference (NCTC) is “North Carolina’s statewide service, leadership, and advocacy organization for theatre.” Here are the K-12 schools that are members:

Courtesy of NCTC

NC Shape

NC Shape is a nonprofit that includes dance educators.

Leadership matters: Thank you to our arts educators

Arts North Carolina, North Carolina’s statewide advocacy organization for all of the arts including in schools, reminds advocates: “Principals have the most direct control over Arts Education at each school. Schedule a meeting with your principal.”

Find out what your school’s assets and barriers are for implementing effective arts education, they suggest, and work with your principal to address the challenges and create opportunities for more students. From principals to Congress, Arts North Carolina provides an interesting analysis of who does what when it comes to arts and education policy.

DPI’s post encourages, “Take time this month to thank arts educators for their dedication and commitment to inspiring and encouraging young artists to grow and thrive.”

Please email me if there are other arts and education resources we should know about at mrash at

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.