Art Education: A Controversial Topic in the American Education System. Why has art education fallen behind when it comes to institutional priorities in school curricula across the country? Emphasis on STEM? Emphasis on “conventional” careers? Cuts in funding to arts programs across the country have caused some organizations and companies to forge new avenues to provide students with an education that spans a wider range of disciplines outside of the conventional academic setting. In connection with Tufts, there are many local groups committed to promoting a meaningful arts education for anyone interested at any age.
Enter Artisans Asylum, a non-profit endeavor aimed at making artistic spaces more accessible to the general public. Located in Boston’s Allston/Brighton neighborhood, Artisans Asylum is a local facility that can be used by all nearby community members. With affordable class offers throughout the month of December, including sausage board making, figure painting, 3D modeling and digital design, and even a class on building a “fire-breathing steel dinosaur that roasts marshmallows” — Artisans Asylum has it all.
With membership, community members are entitled to use any of the spaces where they are trained and tested. Student members earn a discount and have access to spaces in the Artisans Asylum that may not be as easily accessible on the Tufts campus — a real boon to those looking to practice their craft or find a new one.
Like the innovative aspects of Tufts’ curriculum, such as the Experimental College, Artisans Asylum has opportunities for people to also teach a class at the facility. For those interested in giving back to their communities as well as providing opportunities for people to tap into or discover their artistic sides, Artisans Asylum is a beacon of hope for art education.
The importance of art education is more important now than ever. In 2020, the Randolph, Massachusetts Public School District. — a town south of Boston — announced that it would cut art, music and physical education from 2020–Curriculum for 21 academic years. The announcement was met with expected disappointment and criticism, but it’s a scenario all too familiar in schools across the country.
Programs like Artisans Asylum provide a solution to the ongoing decline of the arts in educational institutions. While students from areas like Randolph should be able to have some form of art education in their schools, with local spaces like Artisans Asylum nearby, that should come with some relief.
Artisans Asylum offers art courses that differ from the prototypical visual art courses you might imagine. With digital design and robotics courses available, younger people can be exposed to multiple artistic media much earlier than some art educators can cover in a conventional classroom.
With concern for the future of art education in America as each new academic year begins, Artisans Asylum continues to provide a space for community members to learn and educate others about the importance of various art media. And if students are to be truly prepared to enter this world educated and exposed to all aspects of education, as Tufts continues to do with its interdisciplinary curriculum, Artisans Asylum should not be one of the only artistic educational resources and venues for students. However, there is still great gratitude for the Artisans Asylum’s ability to provide the educational resources and spaces needed to promote the artistic learning that schools are less and less able to prioritize.