Skip navigation

Arts Education
Development Guide

Step 2: Assess Audience Needs

One common mistake planners make when designing an arts education program is they assume they're addressing real student needs or interests.

Understanding the needs of your students should go beyond simply knowing what they like, what they have limited access to, or what they seem to be particularly good at. When assessing the needs of your students you should consider the kinds of things that will make the greatest impact on their development and knowledge of the art form.

For example, one may see the need to provide music education for a community of students because they don't appear to have enough music instruction. While the need may seem to exist simply because access to music instruction is limited, the actual need may be more specific than just additional music classes. Perhaps the actual need may be experiences in specific rehearsal or performance skills rather than just the mechanics of reading and playing music. Or maybe students need exposure to a variety of styles and genres of music in order to broaden and deepen their skills. It could be that there are specific techniques and playing styles that could deepen a student's knowledge and abilities.

When assessing the needs or interests of your audience make an attempt to understand what will serve them best and connect with them most. Design and plan your project from the perspective of the participant while also considering the things that are important to the integrity of the art form.

There may be times when the specific need is not directly arts-related but rather an associated concept or need. If this is the case try to focus your program so the integrity of the art form takes on an equal, if not primary role in the importance of the project.

When assessing your student's needs consider the knowledge and exposure they have to: