No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was originally designed to benefit at-risk students while including the arts as core academic subjects. Instead, NCLB has put pressure on schools to increase instructional time for tested subjects (math, reading) while decreasing time for other core subjects, such as the arts. Researchers note that this has led to a nationwide "narrowing of the curriculum” (Nat. Ed. Assoc., 2004; von Zastrow & Janc, 2004; King & Zucker, 2005). This impacts schools differently in their capacity to provide high quality arts learning experiences. While some schools continue to integrate the arts, others, facing ongoing budget constraints and hard choices, may limit the role of the arts in learning.

The impact of arts education to improve academic and social outcomes for at-risk students is well documented in Third Space: When Learning Matters (2005, L. Stevenson & R. Deasy) and also in Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development (2002, R. Deasy, Editor). Both contend that, unfortunately, it is the very students who have the most to gain from arts-rich learning who are less likely to experience and benefit from learning through the arts.

Arts in Schools Objectives and Goals:

  • To directly address the learning needs (academic and social outcomes) of at-risk students.
  • To demonstrate the relevance and power of the performing arts to address contemporary issues, and to bring new issues to light, using rich themes of cultural diversity, bullying prevention, tolerance and social learning.
  • To engage teachers, parents and professionals in development, dialogue about critical issues and explore practical classroom applications to meet growing needs in the community.
  • To capitalize on the strengths of education partners by developing activities that promote long-term impact and long-term partnership relationships.

This program aims to reach students/teachers at all grade levels, from pre-K through 12th grade, and all subject areas. It is designed to meet the improvement goals of the school and the community involved. The Lied and its partners extend learning beyond "performance," into a meaningful and transformational experience for all students and teachers involved.

Arts in Schools programs facilitate activities that promote arts learning in schools. The Lied’s Arts in School activities include:

  • Professional development for Pre-K-12 teachers and teaching artists (TAs)
  • Local and nationally-known TAs to demonstrate arts in the classroom or provide extended classroom residencies
  • Projects that link students/teachers to Lied Center performances
  • Teacher guides for student matinees
  • Other Lied performances relating to school improvement goals and Nebraska Education Standards

Arts in School programs include:

  • Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program
  • Nebraska Rural Arts Education Initiative
  • Lied/Lincoln Partnership for Arts Education
  • Teacher Workshops
  • Immersion Projects
  • Sarah’s Kids
  • Student Matinees
  • Curriculum/Performance Guides

For more information about Arts in School programs contact Nancy Engen-Wedin, by phone 402.472.4707, or email,