Article Photo


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     Contact: James Weaver

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 28, 2020) — As policymakers plan for schools reopening in the fall, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) joins 52 other organizations in a statement that supports an arts education for all students.

In the statement, “Arts Education Is Essential,” the signing organizations convey that the arts have already played a pivotal and uplifting role during the health crisis, and that arts education can help all students, including those who are in traditionally under-represented groups, as students return to school next year.

“Arts Education Is Essential” speaks to arts education’s role in supporting the social and emotional well-being of students – an area that administrators, educators and parents have highlighted as essential to student safety and success during the pandemic and as students return to school this fall, whether in-person, online or in a blended fashion. Arts education also creates a welcoming school environment and a healthy and inclusive school community, helping students, educators, parents and the community at large build and strengthen their connectedness during this time of social isolation and social distancing.

The statement also reminds the public that arts education is a part of a well-rounded education as defined by the federal education law – the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – and supported in state laws throughout the country. Forty-six states require an arts credit to receive a high school diploma, and 43 states have instructional requirements in the arts in elementary and secondary schools.

“The NFHS, its member state associations and other statewide governing organizations for performing arts believe these programs are as important as the classroom work and are, in essence, the other half of education,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director. “There are more than four million participants in performing arts and other related school activity programs in our nation’s high schools, and it is critical that these programs remain in our schools during these challenging days ahead.”

             Through the work of Dr. James Weaver, NFHS director of performing arts and sports, the NFHS has been on the frontlines to ensure that precautions are in place for students, teachers and administrators in high school performing arts programs when schools open in the fall. Among those efforts are instrument hygiene guidelines ( ) in partnership with the NAMM Foundation and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), explaining how instruments can be safely returned and cleaned for use next school year.

The music and arts education community has been active during this pandemic in providing administrators, educators, and other stakeholders guidance and support, as well as forward-thinking planning for music educators and district arts supervisors to take a lead as school districts make plans for the next school year. In any decision about how school districts will operate in the next and future school years, music and arts education will be essential in providing all students equitable educational opportunities that also continue to prepare them for an ever-changing world.

To add your voice to this statement, your organization can sign on to the statement by emailing

Signing organizations as of May 26, 2020:

Afterschool Alliance

American Choral Directors Association 

American Composers Forum

American Orff-Schulwerk Association

American String Teachers Association

Americans for the Arts

Barbershop Harmony Society

Carnegie Hall

Casio America Inc

Chorus America

CMA Foundation

College Band Directors National Association

Conn-Selmer, Inc.

D’Addario Foundation

Eastman Music Company

Education Through Music

Educational Theatre Association

Give a Note Foundation

Hal Leonard

Historically Black Colleges and Universities National Band Directors’ Consortium

Jazz at Lincoln Center

Jazz Education Network

KHS America


League of American Orchestras

Little Kids Rock

Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation

Music for All

Music Teachers National Association

NAMM Foundation

National Art Education Association

National Association for Music Education

National Association of Elementary School Principals

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National Coalition for Core Arts Standards

National Dance Education Organization

National Education Association

National Federation of State High School Associations

National YoungArts Foundation

Organization of American Kodály Educators

Quadrant Research


Recording Academy

Save The Music Foundation

State Education Agency Directors of Arts Association

The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation

United Sound, Inc.

Varsity Performing Arts

West Music Company


Yamaha Corporation of America

Young Audiences Arts for Learning



About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,500 high schools and 12 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.9 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at



MEDIA CONTACTS:                Bruce Howard, 317-972-6900

                                                Director of Publications and Communications

                                                National Federation of State High School Associations



                                                Chris Boone, 317-972-6900

                                                Assistant Director of Publications and Communications

                                                National Federation of State High School Associations