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A young girl and boy react to a performance with open-jawed amazement.


New Victory research reveals the impact of live performing arts on kids.

New Victory has witnessed the performing arts’ powerful ability to inspire and ultimately change the lives of young people. However with much of the existing research on arts education focusing on outcomes distant from the arts, such as attendance and grades, we wanted to know, could this change be proven? Does arts engagement really impact children’s social-emotional development?

Though we’re still evaluating the data of our impact research with WolfBrown, we’ve observed:

Kids who engage with the performing arts early are

  1. more likely to maintain theater interest
  2. more able to broaden their worldview
  3. more hopeful for their future

The Research Process

To investigate the intrinsic impact of the arts on youth, Lindsey Buller Maliekel, New Victory® Director of Education, Public Engagement, partnered with Dennie Palmer Wolf, Steven Holochwost and Alan Brown from the research firm WolfBrown to develop a rigorous research protocol measuring the following impacts:

  • Aesthetic Growth – an appreciation for artistry the children had never seen before
  • Motivation To Action – the impulse to want to try new things
  • Social Bridging – an appreciation of someone’s life that is different from their own
  • Personal Relevance – the capacity for self-reflection

Through New Victory SPARK, New Victory was able to collect data from schools with no arts teachers or arts programming, and maintain a control group from the same student body.

Cultivating Hope

The data demonstrates a clear relationship between exposure to performing arts and a variety of impacts, including future theater interest. But perhaps most interesting is a link between the arts and children’s ability to discover and develop hope.

When asked questions about whether they will graduate, get a job or live a happy life, New Victory SPARK students—some of whom faced housing instability and food insecurity—had a far more optimistic outlook toward their future than the control group.

Discover more in “Envisioning the Future of TYA,” a report by the National Endowment for the Arts (April 22, 2020)

Stay Informed

The research tools and outcomes will have a profound and lasting resonance in the performing arts, and we’re beginning to share some of that information with the fields of theater for young audiences and arts education.

For announcements about speaking engagements, follow New 42 on LinkedIn.

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Research Support

The New Victory longitudinal research study was made possible thanks to the generosity of The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation.