Students who attend arts-rich schools in South Carolina outperformed the national mean in the areas of engagement, hope, entrepreneurial aspiration, and career and financial literacy, according to the 2018 study from the S.C. Arts Commission and Gallup.

The SmartARTS program of the Metropolitan Arts Council integrates arts education into core learning at Greenville County Schools. Trained teaching artists work alongside classroom teachers to create arts-rich schools through the program.

“In addition to students gaining a better understanding of academic areas as well as greater recall and retention of information, the program also helps students to personalize learning and gain greater context through the arts,” says Kimberly Gibbs, MAC director of arts education.

SmartARTS uses creative writing, visual arts, music, dance, and theater to create academic success. Alan Ethridge, MAC executive director, says the program benefits all involved — students, teachers, artists, and even parents.

“It’s had a huge impact on the Greenville County Schools because it captures students who have traditionally been unengaged with high degrees of apathy, dissatisfaction, lack of academic achievement, lack of motivation,” Ethridge says. “But when the artist comes in, all of that changes.”