This longitudinal case study investigated issues that influence successful talent development in the arts and looked at the effects of long-term artistic involvement on the lives of 23 artistically talented young people in New York City. A widely varied group of students aged 10-26, who had all taken part in a dance or music program in their elementary school years, participated in the study. Interviews with the students, their families, arts instructors, school teachers, and other interested adults, provided multiple perspectives on their development as artists and the place that the arts played in their lives. The students’ achievements and progress in both the arts and in school were examined through direct observations, academic records, and evaluations from arts instructors.
The key issues of the study concern the nature of the obstacles faced by economically disadvantaged and minority students in pursuing artistic talent development and the factors that help some students overcome those obstacles. This study provides information that can help schools, cultural institutions, community organizations, and parents design interventions and programs to help young people who have the talent and drive, but few opportunities to pursue their dreams and aspirations.
Artistic Talent Development for Urban Youth: The Promise and the Challenge
Obstacles to Talent Development in the Arts
- Family circumstances include a range of interconnected issues; finances, child care, safety concerns, parental support, family composition, and physical environment inside and outside the home.
- Appropriate and affordable instructional opportunities in schools and neighborhoods are limited in the economically disadvantaged communities.
- Resentment from peers and siblings along with social stigma about participation in the arts compels artistically talented students to hide their accomplishments.
- Personal dreams of the pursuit of the arts as a career and the reality of making a good living are in conflict when students are deciding how best to continue their studies.
Recommendations for Talent Development Program in the Arts
- The most crucial success factor is the existence of a school-based program that identifies and develops students’ artistic talents.
- Programs in economically disadvantaged communities with few resources and under-served by art specialists must have the support components available to more advantaged students.
- Students and families need information about further training opportunities and scholarships, trips and auditions to magnet arts programs, travel information, summer training, equipment and instruments, and communication network among program families.
- Opportunities are the key to students’ ability to continue in the arts and attain success.