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Under Governor Huckabee's leadership, Arkansas policymakers, as well as private organizations, have implemented a number of programs to provide students with access to quality instruction in and through the arts.


2001 H.B. 1883 requires every public elementary school in the state to provide at least 40 minutes of instruction in music or visual art every week by June 2002, with every student in grades 1-6 allowed to participate in this instruction.

Every class in every school is allocated a minimum of $100 to obtain needed supplies and equipment for music and art classes. By June 1, 2005, students in grades 1-6 must participate in this instruction, which must be provided by a teacher certified to teach art or music. 2005 H.B. 1034 adds that by the 2005-2006 school year, this requirement increases to at least 40 minutes of art and 40 minutes of music instruction every week. Very few other states require music or art instruction at the elementary level.

2001 H.B. 1883 also created The Future Art and Music Teachers Pilot Program, which gives students in grades 11 and 12 in at least six schools in the state an opportunity to offer music and visual art instruction to K-6 students. This is perhaps the only state program of its kind in the U.S.

2003 S.B. 912 established the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts (ASMSA) as an expansion of the existing "Arkansas School for Mathematics and Sciences" in Hot Springs, Arkansas. ASMSA is a residential school for students in grades 11 and 12 who are gifted in the fine and performing arts, math or science. Its mission is not only to educate these students, but also to develop curricula and materials to improve instruction in these areas for all Arkansas students. Arkansas thus joins a handful of states across the country that have established a year-round, rigorous program for students gifted in the arts.

1999 H.C.R. 1013 requests the state house and senate interim committees to oversee a study of the effects of teaching arts and music in Arkansas public elementary schools.


Arkansas A+ Schools Network is a statewide, comprehensive school reform that views the arts as fundamental to the way teachers teach and the way students learn. Housed at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, the Network currently serves 10 schools across the state and is growing rapidly.

Through the A+ Network, schools are reorganized and revitalized in virtually every aspect of their operations; from curriculum and instruction to professional development for teachers, parental and community involvement, school and classroom management and assessment. A+ schools combine interdisciplinary teaching with daily arts instruction, affording students the opportunity to learn in all the ways they are able.

Participating schools receive support services and guidance through the A+ office and receive professional training via residential summer institutes and conferences, regional information meetings, retreats and on-site professional development. Schools are encouraged to work with local artists, arts organizations and state agencies to expand student access to and engagement in the arts. In addition, A+ Faculty and consultants are available to help classroom teachers to integrate arts-based teaching strategies in their daily practice.

The A+ Schools model was developed in North Carolina through the Kenan Institute for the Arts, and was adopted by Arkansas in 2002. The Arkansas A+ Schools Network is governed by an Advisory Council whose members represent arts organizations, schools and institutions of higher learning throughout the state.

For more information about the Arkansas A+ Schools Network, please contact Marie Parker, director, at 479.575.5404 or visit us online at

Since 1989, ArtsSmart, the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council, Inc. (TRAHC) has been providing ArtsSmart, a comprehensive arts education program that assists classroom teachers in effectively integrating the arts into their curriculum. ArtsSmart includes bringing professional artists into the classroom, as well as a summer Teacher Institute and skill-development workshops for teachers during the academic year. The program serves 30 schools in seven districts in the Texarkana region straddling the Texas and Arkansas borders. In October 2003, TRAHC received a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the aMax Project, in which the council will develop, document, evaluate and disseminate ArtsSmart as a national model in preparing teachers to use the arts to meet curricular objectives. In addition, TRAHC sponsors three Arts-Intensive Model (AIM) campuses, two of which are in Arkansas. One of the three participating schools credits the tremendous five-year gains in its state writing score -- from 36 to 93 -- to participation in the program. TRAHC also provides students with access to arts performances, serving almost 20,000 students in the 2003-04 school year with 12 performances and teacher curriculum from the Kennedy Center, Arkansas Reperatory Company, Dallas Children's Theatre and more. TRAHC additionally hosts an annual student juried art show, community performances and the Jump, Jive and JamFest. Through community presentations, tours of AIM schools and the Annual Best Practices Forum: Achieving Educational Excellence through the Arts, the council has reached hundreds of community members. TRAHC provides the only arts services to some of the geographically isolated schools in the council's 100-mile service region.

Governor's Award for Musical Excellence is presented by the governor's office every spring to high school seniors across the state who have been identified by their school's music instructors (band, choir and orchestra) for their commitment to excellence in music. Each high school's music department may nominate one student who excels in 15 skills and dispositions grouped under five categories: (1) musicianship (exceptional technical skill as well as musicality); (2) teamwork (i.e., places group goals and recognition above personal goals); (3) dedication (including being self-motivated, with strong practice habits); (4) character (i.e., treats faculty members with respect and fellow students with dignity); and (5) attitude (i.e., willingness to go "the extra mile"). In spring 2005, 100 awards will be presented. Each winning student is recognized at his/her local high school's awards assembly and receives a certificate signed by the governor, as well as a medallion with a neck ribbon that can be worn at the student's graduation ceremony. Governor Huckabee personally awards a number of the medallions at awards assemblies across the state. For more information, please contact John Caldwell at 501.682.1150 or

Play It Again, Arkansas is an initiative conceived by Governor Huckabee after observing a parallel program in Memphis, Tennessee. This program offers Arkansans the opportunity to donate used instruments to schools statewide for needy students' use. The Web site likewise allows music directors and parents to post requests for specific instruments needed. Interested parties may also opt to make a financial contribution to the cause. Governor Huckabee's weekly column of April 24, 1998 and pages 30-31 of the report For the Record: The Huckabee Administration 1996-2002 are devoted to the program.

stART smART Program was developed by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. It is currently located in just three cities in the United States, including West Memphis, Arkansas. It helps children ages 3-5 develop early literacy by connecting dance movements to literature. The program likewise aims to develop an online community to provide professional development in literacy and the performing arts for early childhood instructors.


Arkansas Arts Council supports numerous arts programs across the state by providing grants under three broad areas of activity. The artists-in-communities residency program sustains artist residencies to teach K-12 students outside of school settings, including community/neighborhood centers, low-income housing projects, juvenile facilities and more. The arts curriculum project grants are used to provide technical assistance and professional development for providers of both K-12 student and adult programs, while the artist residency and mini-residency programs for organizations and schools bring artists to school sites and nonprofit organizations. In addition to assisting local programs, the arts council aids the arts in education statewide by providing professional development through an artists/teachers retreat.

Also, the Arkansas Arts Council annually presents the Governor’s Arts Awards in the categories of Arts Community Development, Arts in Education, Corporate Sponsorship of the Arts, Individual Artist, Individual Patron and Lifetime Achievement.

Southwest Arkansas Arts Council (SWAAC) is headquartered in Governor Huckabee's hometown of Hope, Arkansas, and serves four communities in the area with a total population of 24,968. The families in this very rural region are largely middle to low income; 27% of adults in the area cannot read, while 29.3% of the area's children live below the federal poverty level. Despite these apparent obstacles, the arts are flourishing, thanks to programs funded by matching grants from the Arkansas Arts Council; local schools, which contribute funds to both the Arts in Education (AIE) program and the Artist in Communities (AIC) program; the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, which underwrites the summer art program; and local fundraising events. SWAAC offers during-school (AIE), after-school (AIC) and summer-school programs to area children from K-12, and after-school programs primarily for those in grades 5-12. Students attest their lives have been changed for the better through activities as diverse as African drum ballet, Native American sand painting and yarn painting; quiltmaking; potterymaking; student-written and -performed theater productions; and stenciling, stamping and bookmaking. In fact, a local judge at times sends children to participate in SWAAC programs as an alternative to probation or serving time in a juvenile detention center. One high school boy court-ordered into the theater program commented: "It's a good thing I didn't get probation because I would've missed all this." For further information on SWAAC, please contact Repha Buckman, SWAAC executive director, at or 870.777.8200 for further information. See photos of SWAAC.

Walton Arts Center is Arkansas' largest and busiest center for the performing arts and entertainment. From attending live performances and art exhibitions, to hands-on art making, patrons – both teaching artists and learners young and old – are offered a range of activities for learning and growing through the arts. Its Education and Outreach Program supports the community of Northwest Arkansas by providing a variety of experiences and resources to engage people in the arts. Professional development opportunities help teachers to invigorate their classrooms with arts-based learning activities, matinee performances excite young people with the magic of live theater, and classes in the visual and performing arts offer students of all ages a chance to explore their own creativity. A hallmark of the center’s teacher education program is the annual Arts With Education (AWE) Institute.Throughout this intensive, week-long summer program, teachers engage in hands-on, interactive workshops and sessions on teaching the basic curriculum with new and innovative techniques. Guest instructors from around the country inspire teachers and prepare them to make their classroom learning environment more effective. At the core of Walton Arts Center’s education program is the Nadine Baum Studios, which opened in 1999. The Studios offer group instruction to adults and young people in visual, dance and dramatic arts through weekly classes, workshops, master classes, spring break and summer camps, and during intersessions for year-round schools. The Studio programs provide hands-on studio experiences that stimulate multiple intelligences and critical-thinking skills through the support and stewardship of improvisation, problem solving and resourcefulness. For more information on Walton Arts Center’s arts in education programs, visit

Wolftrap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts offers children ages 3-5, their teachers and their families arts in education programs in music, movement and drama. The institute has regional programs in 15 areas nationwide, including a Delta program headquartered at the Crittenden Arts Council in Arkansas.