50 Ways to Make Art Class a Valued Part of Your Community

Advocating for the arts doesn’t have to be scary. Although speaking at school board meetings and setting up appointments with your administrators are wonderful things to do, there are more subtle ways that I think work even better.

Making art an indispensable part of your school and wider community is an excellent way to make sure your program sticks around, especially as budgets are tightened and classes are cut. It doesn’t happen overnight, and I’m not saying there still won’t be struggles, but today I have 50 simple ideas that you can start implementing right away. Taking on even one or two will start to change the way people in your community feel about the arts, and may just help you gain the staying power you need.

50 Ways to Make Art Class

50 Ways to Make Art Class a Valued Part of Your Community

1. Ask your administrator to do a project alongside your students for a class period.
2. Create a mini gallery in the staff bathroom.
3. Ask the local grocery store to donate bags. Have students create art on the bags, then give them back to the grocery store to use.
4. Have everyone in the school participate in 15 minutes of silent doodling once a month on Friday afternoons.
5. Interview a student about his or her work and post it on your blog.
6. Highlight a “Student Artist of the Week” next to your classroom door.
7. Enter student work in a local or national art contest. Ask your community members to vote.
8. Add a sign to your hallway displays explaining any cross-curricular connections in the work.
9. Send an email to your staff highlighting a few pieces of student work each month.
10. Have students decorate gift wrap to use for community outreach programs during the holidays.
11. Hold an “Art-a-Thon” to raise money for a local charity.
12. Use QR Codes to create an interactive display for people visiting your school.
13. Keep bulletin boards and display cases full of interesting work.
14. Hold an art show.
15. Ask if you can hang art work in your District Office.
16. Ask if you can hang art work at local businesses or in government buildings.
17. Make a positive phone call home.
18. Participate in Back to School Night or Open House.
19. Volunteer to face paint at the school carnival.
20. Lead students in creating permanent (or temporary!) large-scale artwork around your school.
21. Complete a legacy project.
22. If your town has a gallery night, open your school and show off some student work.
23. Create an online gallery.
24. Use art as a fundraiser for your school. Share a portion of the proceeds with other teachers.
25. Have students create art for the school play.
26. Have students create art to hang at school concerts.
27. Collaborate with other teachers on some cross-curricular projects.
28. Create a monthly or quarterly newsletter for families.
29. Create a classroom Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account that parents can follow.
30. Have a sign outside of your door that indicates big concepts being taught in the art room. Change it up weekly or monthly.
31. As part of a reflection at the end of a grading period, have students write what they have learned in art class. Compile the results and share them with your staff.
32. Create a promotional video for your class.
33. During spirit week, have a “Wear Your Favorite Color Day.”
34. Take students on a field trip. Ask parents and administrators to come along.
35. Have students write one new thing they learned on the back of a project to share with someone at home.
36. Create a list of guiding questions for parents and students to use when discussing artwork.
37. Ask about holding student-led conferences in the art room.
38. Make it easy for people to find your classroom website or blog.
39. Create signs to hang outside of classroom doors during conferences to remind parents to come and see you.
40. Ask your librarian to pull books for you.
41. Announce new hallway displays, upcoming art shows and art events on the loudspeaker.
42. Do a lesson with sidewalk chalk to beautify school grounds.
43. Make stepping stones for a school garden.
44. Hold a contest for students to design school t-shirts. Make them available for purchase.
45. Have your students write and illustrate a collaborative book. Give the library and each classroom a copy.
46. Make murals to brighten drab hallways.
47. Invite members of the school board to come spend a day in your room.
48. Send a piece of art through inter-office mail.
49. Create an art scavenger hunt throughout your school. Make clues available to classroom teachers.
50. Ask to put a piece of student art in a prominent place in the school office.

There you go! 50 ideas to help make sure your art program is here to stay.

What else would you add to the list?

How do you make sure the arts are valued in your district?

Amanda Heyn

Learning Team

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 


  • Susan

    We just started teaching digital photography and I email parents pictures that their children take in class with a little information on the assignment. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

  • Toby

    Last school year we had the opportunity to have a couple local college art professors, along with art students, come into our school and do a whole school assembly to create a peace mandala which is now a permenant art work on display in our library! Because of our school population size we had to divide the assemble into two sessions. It worked great! Looks terrific in the library!

    • Emily

      Hi Toby — Can you tell me/us a bit more about your peace mandala? Thanks!

      • Toby

        Sure, the college did their presentation of what a Peace Mandala is… How artists in India create a Peace Mandala. The students then had to think about what peace means to them. On an index card they wrote their ideas. Their index card was numbered to match the numbered piece that will be the tile part of artwork in the mandala. As they finished their piece it was added to the large work. There was a border area that needed color as well, so those who finished early could work on this…it is in four foam board pieces. They laid large rolled paper down on the gym floor to keep the students from putting color on the floor and also gave the students a visual idea of where they needed to be. I’ll try an send you some photos. The students and staff really enjoyed this excercise involving visual art with the students. The student behavior was super-wonderful! I was so proud of them all!

  • Elizabeth Rubenstein

    Great list! Some I do already and so many great ( and easy) new ones!


  • annonymous

    My students and I began and almost completed a 13×42 foot mural. It received a lot of positive feedback. Just last week I found out the devastating news it was repainted. With fear of losing my job, I would like to hear your feedback.

    • Oh my goodness. What terrible news! Is there any chance it was a big misunderstanding? For example, did a painting company come in to do work and perhaps thought it was supposed to be painted over? If you’re not sure why it happened, I would calmly ask your principal for an explanation. If someone purposely painted over it, or ordered to have it painted over knowing that you and the students put in hours and hours of work, I would be very cautious to do any more public work in your school building, or make it something you can take down and save after you display it. What a tough situation. Sorry you had to go through that!

  • Amanda Peet

    I use ThreeRing to send photos of my student’s artworks to their parents, along with a short blurb of artist inspiration, elements of art, techniques and mediums used, etc. Although it is time consuming, and ThreeRing hasn’t ironed out all the bugs, it has certainly lifted the profile of K-6 Visual Arts in my school!

  • Carey Callahan Hernandez

    This is a great list with original ideas!

  • Ellen K

    My AP students participated in The Memory Project making portraits of children in Cuernavaca. We put the portraits and the photos of the artists that made them on the website and got a wonderful response from the community. This year we will be doing twice as many portraits and I’m contacting the local newspapers myself since our PR department puts art under just about everything else in terms of promotion.

  • Phyllis Bloxson

    Each Grade did selfies as their first project this year. I displayed them with only the students teacher and grade so people could try to guess “WHOSE SELFIES WHO?” W pretended our mirrors were cellphones it was great fun and highly appreciated throughout the school.

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  • Elizabeth Titus

    great post with some fabulous ideas-thanks for sharing

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