Arts education is critical because it allows young people a place to explore who they are and how they connect with others locally and globally.

Whether through theater, visual arts, dance or music, the arts provide students a safe place to express themselves and tell their story. All students need the opportunity to explore who they are and how to relate to others with confidence and compassion.

Through art, students explore the broader world and work with others toward a common goal. In doing so, they learn to collaborate with diverse groups and accept others’ input even if it differs from their own.

As an educator in two public K-6 elementary schools, I’ve learned that when students have the chance to create art that represents their story, they begin to better understand themselves and others. Through art making, students learn to accept criticism and praise. Whether it is through song, a play, painting or dance, when young people work together as artists, they deepen their understanding of themselves and others.

In a world where virtual connectivity is constant, the arts provide all people the opportunity to connect with others in a genuine and creative way.

Cynthia Micken, Salt Lake City