Artistic Literacy
Literacy indicates knowledge and competence in a specific language system or field. It requires a lifelong, intellectual process of gaining understanding. In the arts, literacy is the ability to “read” a work of art and to understand how to find meaning through that work of art. It is also the ability to create a work of art using the symbol system of that art form in order to be understood by others.

Consortium members understand that the aquisition of artistic literacy requires rigor. There are many methods and delivery systems that may work collectively to provide artistic literacy. Ideally, our students would receive a comprehensive arts education in one or more art forms as part of their general K-12 education experience. Realistically, all members must share this responsibility by offering or supporting one or more of the following essential components of arts education:

Interest in the arts is developed through exposure. Exposure is as simple as attending a performance at the symphony or a dance concert at a festival, touring an exhibit at an art museum, or joining the audience at a Shakespearean play. Exposure creates appreciation. Appreciation for the arts is acknowledgement that there is deep meaning to be understood in art. That meaning may be “read” and understood just as any verbal language. Exposure to the arts develops aesthetic appreciation.

Experiencing the arts by practicing and doing allows students to hone artistic skills and to begin to understand the way the arts create meaning beyond words. With rigorous practice, students advance in their ability to produce movements, brush strokes, notes, scripts, media, and literary works in order to “speak the language” of the creative arts.

“Speaking” is important, but speaking without comprehension is not literacy. Developing the skills to employ craft by arranging, sequencing, and developing nuances in order to communicate is required to create expression and understanding. The ability to create a work of art that may be “read” and understood by others is the highest form of artistic literacy.

A comprehensive arts education will include exposure, experience, and the act of creating art, and there is no one right place to begin. Entry points exist in all three. Continuous exposure, experience, and creativity are necessary for a complete education in the arts.