Many executives believe that arts education and engagement throughout life significantly improve workforce skills and have contributed to their own career success. Our research -- the first that specifically studied the role of arts engagement on workforce skills -- shows that executives believe there is a strong connection between one's arts education and his or her potential for professional success. Therefore, to deprive students access to arts-related skills may also deprive them of workforce skills. When access to arts education is not available to all students, this skills gap becomes an opportunity gap as well.
However, even some who attribute their success to their arts experiences do not immediately grasp the overall significance of this connection. This perception gap helps to explain why educating through the arts is often considered optional and is often the first form of education that is cut when budget and policy pressures arise. If this connection continues to go unrecognized, the schools and organizations responsible for providing arts education will not receive the attention and support necessary to sustain their services. These findings call for action to provide equal access and opportunity to the arts for all students to prepare them to succeed in the workforce.