It Turns Out Art Still Matters for Students, Even Those Seeking a STEM Education

As a gallery owner and a passionate advocate for the arts, I’ve been closely watching the trends in arts education, particularly the disheartening funding cuts in recent decades. Recently, I came across a study by Halverson and Sawyer (2022) that not only highlights the importance of art in education but also gives me hope for a potential reversal in these funding trends, hopefully, for all students.

The Essential Role of Arts in STEM The study by Halverson and Sawyer opens our eyes to the symbiotic relationship between art and science. It demonstrates that when arts are integrated into STEM education, there’s a noticeable enhancement in creative thinking, problem-solving abilities, and student engagement. This research brings hard facts to the table, showing that arts integration isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential for a well-rounded educational experience.

Key Findings from the Research The study presents several compelling findings:

  1. Creativity as a Core Educational Outcome: The arts significantly contribute to developing creative thinking skills, which are now recognized as critical in STEM professions.
  2. Art’s Impact on Innovation in STEM: Students exposed to the arts in their STEM education show a greater propensity for innovation, thinking beyond traditional boundaries to discover new solutions to scientific and technological challenges.
  3. Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills: The research found that arts integration in STEM subjects leads to improved problem-solving skills, as students learn to approach challenges from diverse, creative perspectives.
  4. Increased Engagement and Diversity in Learning Styles: The inclusion of arts in STEM subjects resulted in higher student engagement and catered to a broader range of learning styles, making STEM fields more accessible and appealing to a diverse student population.

The Hope for Future Funding and Support These findings give me hope that we can turn the tide on the funding cuts in arts education. By demonstrating the tangible benefits of the arts in enhancing STEM education, we have a strong case for advocating increased support and resources. It’s clear that to develop the next generation of innovators, thinkers, and problem-solvers, we need to reinvest in arts education.

References Halverson, E., & Sawyer, K. (2022). Learning in and through the arts. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 31(1), 1-13. Explore the full study here.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. Jason,
    I teach art in Mesa Public Schools to 4-6 graders. They crave art more than ever because of all the testing they are constantly doing. Everything you said about gifted & talented education, and STEM classes and the connection to the arts is true. Actually many in MPS now refer to it as STEAM education which includes the art component.

    1. Great article. My sister, an art teacher for 30+ years, advocated for just that – STEAM. She teaches science through art and has received enough recognition to work with NASA and JPL. For myself, an Engineer/Product Designer, problems are solved through sorting through those creative endeavors.

  2. Thank you for this well-researched and timely article. I was a special education teacher and found my artistic background was extremely useful at all levels from JK through high school. I can only believe that art in the curriculum is all the more needed in these stressful times.

  3. One of my 8 grandchildren attends a high school where at least one Art course per year is compulsory.
    This is forward thinking. Appreciate your article. Creativity needs to be unleashed.

  4. I am hearing that whomever decided STEM was important is now looking at revising it to STEAM. The A is for art because it turns out that creativity is extremely important. It sounds like a “duh” moment, but at least its finally being recognized. Lol

  5. Or, add Art, and it will be STEAM! I can’t tell how absolutely disappointed and (actually) angry I have been when most elememtary schools I taught at had NO separate class devoted to art! One year I was hired to teach art for K thru 6th, including Special Ed (my speciality) …only on a Friday. They had NO budget for any supplies, no room that we could meet in, and no budget for me! I was shocked to think that the Administration felt that I had all those supplies and that I would VOLUNTEER every Friday!!! Well, it worked out when I made my own budget and what I wanted per hour. The principal finally agreed and began the long process of requesting all of this for the kids. I rotated about 165 kids, based on grade level, writing and planning a new lesson plan for each grade level, every Friday. The kids and I loved it. At the end of the year the kids begged me to come back but the ADMIN decided they weren’t goung to continue. So disappointing. I saw a definite change in attitude in the kids that year, Some were so shy but opened up, immigrant kids who spoke very little English communicated wonderfully thru their amazing art, and all the parents were amazed in what the kids had created in just 1 hour!
    Why schools don’t offer any art I have NO valid answer from anyone. The teachers alway tried to have the time but really couldn’t fit it in.
    I don’t understand why art in elementaryy school has now become a lost subject. When I grew up, we had a specific art hour within the week. It’s one reason I became an artist and studied Art Education in University! I couldn’t advocate it enough to keep classes going in any district in my area. Not one school board member found it necessary! PE is required but not art. Parents need to speak up and attend all school board meetings in their towns to demand art classes. Just so sad!

  6. People who aren’t scientists or mathematicians (as a scientist I’m not sure about engineers ;-> ) often portray these fields as passionless and non-creative. Nothing can be farther from the truth! There is a high degree of overlap in the mental processes used in art and in science. The big difference is that in science and mathematics there is a way to say you’re correct and what is good science – i’m over simplifying here – whereas in arts the quality is subjective.

  7. As a former public school educator, I have seen local administrators get pretty creative when their funds are directed away from the arts. When I left teaching to paint full time, I found that schools were a significant source for mural work.

    I just painted four large murals this last autumn in a school that was determined to continue exposing their students to the arts and possible careers in art in spite of budget cuts. One of the murals depicts a series of cog wheels, each with iconic images related to a particular field of study. Another is a panoramic solar system. The other two are sports-related. The point is that the school leadership wanted to surround their students with colorful and creative images. I was honored, and felt like I was contributing something important there.

  8. Some people seem to think that art classes are intended to turn children into artists, nope! Art helps children appreciate the world around them, to find creative solutions and become well-rounded adults.

  9. Thanks for bringing this to light Jason. After a 30+ year engineering career, much of that managing other engineers, I can attest to the benefit of contributors that bring creative ideas to difficult technical dilemmas. The arts, of course, are the best way to build that creativity. STEM, for me, was a learned skill. Whereas, artistic expression, is an innate strength that needs nurturing. Having made the hard pivot from full-time engineering manager to full-time artist, I have two salient findings: 1) I’ve come to respect those that chose to put 30 years into developing thier art – the value of that is underrated. 2) The structured mental process I gained from engineering has helped to develop repeatability in my art making process.

  10. All one needs to do is remember Da Vinci. Original STEAM instructor. I am guilty of study of all things on Da Vinci. I was able to see the Mona Lisa “under painting” and Museum display while in Albuquerque years ago. I have seen two other museum exhibits but I can’t put my finger on the where(s). Read the book by Walter Isaacson. Just last August we visited France. I did get to see many of his paintings, Yes the Mona Lisa as well, at the Paris museums. In Amboise, we toured Clos Luce where he spent the final years of his life. Now, I need his younger years – on to Italy I hope. He was amazing, especially if you are a history nut like me.

  11. A printmaker, like a carpenter sees a hammer in everything, sees print as the ancestor of ALL STEM. As a professor, I taught art and technology, I’m designing a solution, Printmaking Schoolbox and PrintPals. See me at and on YouTube. Thank you for passing along the list. With Chat GPT3.5 it can be grown to “101 Reasons for STREAM” to include Reading-and-writing.

  12. I greatly appreciate this current research emphasizing the importance of art in STEM fields. However, I’d like to point out that the importance of the arts in creative problem solving, multiple learning styles, etc. has been researched–literally–for decades. We have more than enough evidence of the importance of art education. The problem is not a lack of data, it is Republicans in Congress who consistently cut arts funding at all levels, including education, every chance they get. They have repeatedly tried to abolish the NEA and NEH. They aren’t interested in education or creativity. That is abundantly clear from their voting records. I recently heard a discussion on NPR’s 1A in which educators were searching for solutions to The crisis in public school attendance post-pandemic. No one mentioned the arts!! I will leave you with this… I was an artist working on a project with middle school students a few years back. One student was helping me wash brushes. I asked her: what subjects do you like in school? She said, “I like math because I am good at it and I like art because it takes my anger away.” Art saves lives.

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