Arts Education at Risk in RI

Shana Cinquemani
Department Head, Graduate Program Director, Assistant Professor, TLAD

Dear RISD community,

I know we are all busy, so I will try to keep this request as short as possible, but I (and the arts in Rhode Island) need your help.

Right now, it is required that high school students in RI demonstrate “proficiency” in the arts, and the arts are considered a core requirement for graduation. However, the Education Commissioner (Angélica Infante-Green) is proposing a change to the requirements for high school graduation which puts the arts in a precarious position—meaning that proficiency would no longer be required, the arts would not be a core subject area, and students could possibly graduate from high school with no arts experience at all. The proposal has the potential to impact fine arts at the high school level around the state, as well as high school art educators. Arts educators around the state are doing everything they can to oppose this change and secure the requirement of the arts in the high school curriculum.

While it might not affect us at RISD in a direct way right now, I encourage you all to think broadly. If the arts are cut from high schools in the state what will this mean for us in terms of recruiting students from Rhode Island to RISD? What will it mean for our TLAD MAT program (if the arts are not required art teachers will be cut)? What will it mean for Project Open Door and the teen art program at the RISD Museum? How will it affect the arts community in Rhode Island? And how will it affect the young people in our state as a whole?

Please work with the RI Art Education Association and arts educators from around the state to oppose this change! We only have a short window to publicly comment and have our voices heard. Here's how you can help:

Send an email to to oppose this change and demand the reinstatement of the arts as a core content area.

Attend a public comment hearing to oppose the change and demand the retention of the arts as a core content area. A link to dates/times/locations (now through May 3) can be found at the RI Department of Education site. You can read the advocacy statement aloud.

Sign this petition created by the RI Music Education Association.

Share this information widely and help us recruit support from around the state!

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. And thank you all for your support and advocacy for the arts in Rhode Island's public schools.

Shana Cinquemani, PhD is an educator and researcher interested in theories of early childhood art education, connections between art and play, curriculum inquiry and theory, ethical research practices with children, and relationships between children and adults in the art classroom space.