15 Genius Ways to Advocate for Your Art Program During Youth Art Month (YAM)

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There’s a month to celebrate and recognize all sorts of causes including things like jazz, ice cream, and even bikes. Did you know there’s a month to celebrate art education too? Youth Art Month (YAM) is the advocacy platform you didn’t know you needed. Intentionally focus this month on fostering a community that recognizes the profound impact of visual art on student development, including the 21st-century skills students need to thrive today. There are so many creative ways to highlight what you are already doing in your classroom to advocate for the visual arts and your program.

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Celebrate the power of the arts in a focused, fun way that your students will love!

Youth Art Month (YAM) is a nationally recognized program administered by the Council for Art Education (CFAE). Its goal is to garner support for quality art education in schools. Typically observed in March, YAM aims to encourage the expansion of art programs, stimulate new initiatives, and enhance community understanding and interest in art education. By participating in YAM, you can celebrate the creative achievements of your students and contribute to nationwide advocacy for the indispensable role of art education.

Here are three reasons why The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) started Youth Art Month in 1961:

  1. To recognize that art education is essential to developing global citizens.
  2. To encourage commitment to the arts by students, community organizations, and individuals everywhere.
  3. To provide additional opportunities for individuals of all ages to participate in creative art learning.

Many states actively participate through diverse initiatives, such as the Flag and Banner Program, the Artwork Program, and the Year In Review Report. These endeavors contribute to YAM’s mission of promoting visual arts for all K -12 students. To celebrate YAM, connect with your state YAM Chairperson to learn about statewide YAM activities. You can also plan your own activities to promote visual art in your community.

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Showcase the value of quality art education in your classroom, school, and community.

Use YAM as the powerful platform it is to recognize the invaluable skills cultivated through arts experiences. These skills encompass problem-solving, creativity, observation, and communication, and are pivotal in students’ holistic development. Advocate for your art program through fun YAM events and activities in your classroom, school, and community with the ideas below.

student at art show

In Your Classroom

You champion art education daily in your art room because you know and believe in the benefits of art education. During Youth Art Month, turn the tables and have your students explore and articulate these benefits. Add activities to help them appreciate the real-life skills they are learning in your class and make meaningful global connections. Prominently display artwork, student reflections, and photos of your artists at work as a visual testament to your program’s impact. 

Here are five activities to try in your classroom:

  1. Incorporate art challenges or art games to foster creativity and engagement.
  2. Encourage students to express themselves through a theme, such as the annual YAM theme or the overarching “Art Matters” theme.
  3. Invite a local artist to share their expertise and insights with your students.
  4. Design a YAM flag or banner to celebrate the importance of art and instill a sense of pride and community.
  5. Host a virtual art night or open house to get families in the art room.

students painting mural

In Your School

To bring your enthusiasm for art education to other classrooms in your building, rely on your connections with fellow educators, administrators, and parents. Gather a core group of invested supporters to brainstorm ways to collaborate with the school community. Work together to hype up art activities and events to turn YAM into an unforgettable event that your school will look forward to all year long.

Here are five ways to celebrate in your school:

  1. Organize an Art Career Fair to expose your students to diverse artistic career opportunities.
  2. Dedicate a week to Art History and organize schoolwide activities like an iconic artist dress-up day.
  3. Take your artmaking into communal school spaces like hallways, the courtyard, or the library.
  4. Set up a unique gallery experience, such as a virtual exhibition, an art tunnel installation, or a miniature gallery.
  5. Showcase student talent through a live demonstration or public presentation at a significant event like an assembly or staff meeting.

students looking at art in museum

In Your Community

Once you start looking, it’s surprising how many art champions you can find in your community. Tap into the natural networks around you such as the PTA/PTO, your local art museum or arts council, and public library. Ask your community leaders and art enthusiasts to host and fund art events and activities to showcase your students and connect the whole town.

Here are five events to organize in your community:

  1. Display student art in a local business.
  2. Organize a public art installation
  3. Create artwork to donate to or raise funds in support of a specific community cause.
  4. Use current art students or alumni in the art field to lead art workshops.
  5. Share your events and activities on social media or contact the local press to garner more attention and support.

Youth Art Month (YAM) is a dynamic tool to advocate and celebrate art education in your classroom, school, and the broader community. Take advantage of the month to foster creativity through art challenges or games in your classroom, extend the impact by organizing an art career fair, or elevate your program’s visibility with a public art installation. While arts advocacy is key all year long, YAM is an opportunity to gain momentum and support from others doing the same thing in their classrooms, schools, and communities across the nation. Don’t waste another day this month—use your passion for visual art and art education to fuel art appreciation and awareness that “Art Matters!”

How do you celebrate Youth Art Month in your classroom, school, and community?

What do you do to advocate for your art program on a regular basis?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Mariana VanDerMolen

Mariana VanDerMolen, an elementary art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She enjoys teaching for creativity, with a focus on ELL and therapy in a process-based art room.

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