Full STEAM ahead

Last week, Oregon Congresswoman, Suzanne Bonamici, successfully added an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that will integrate the arts into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. Bonamici’s amendment was unanimously adopted by the House-Senate Conference Committee and will impact 100,000 public schools across the country.

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) is a movement founded by the Rhode Island School of Design and has been widely adopted by institutions, corporations, and individuals.

According to the website stemtosteam.org, the objectives of the STEAM movement are to:

  • Transform research policy to place Art + Design at the center of STEM
  • Encourage integration of Art + Design in K-20 education
  • Influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation

The arts are everywhere. A 2012 study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts indicated the production of arts and cultural goods added more than $698 billion to the U.S. economy and amounted to 4.32% of the gross domestic product. Additionally, workers in the arts and culture sector received $334.9 billion in compensation in 2012. Further findings indicate there are 2.1 million artists in the work force who identify being an artist as their primary occupation. According to a 2008 report from The Conference Board, 97% of U.S. employers say creativity is a highly important skill set however 85%of employers looking to hire creative people say they are unable to find qualified applicants.

With the integration of Arts + Design in K – 20 curriculum, innovation can expand beyond the STEM fields to include creative practice and industry. The arts have the potential to transform the American economy. Creative industries such as film and television, architecture, design, visual arts, fashion, furniture, interior design, product and industrial design are all experiencing growth that is outpacing the economy in many cities across the U.S. This article in the New York Daily News suggests staggering increases in the number of creative firms springing up in the New York City area. Brooklyn has seen a 125% increase in creative firms over the last decade. The Bronx has experienced a 99% gain and Queens has experienced 50% growth.  Similar expansions are occurring in Los Angeles according this article in The Sundial, a publication of California State University, Northridge.

Creative industries aren’t only found in the coastal giants of New York and Los Angeles. An article published in Forbs ranked the top 20 most creative cities in America. To compile this list, Forbs partners with Sterling’s Best Places and looked for cities where people are actively engrossed in creative projects utilizing creative funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indigegog as well as music sites like Bandcamp and ReverbNation.

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Nashville, TN
  4. Austin, TX
  5. New York, NY
  6. Portland, OR
  7. Los Angeles, CA
  8. Seattle, WA
  9. Detroit, MI
  10. Oakland, CA
  11. Philadelphia, PA
  12. New Orleans, LA
  13. Atlanta, GA
  14. Denver, CO
  15. Chicago, IL
  16. Orlando, FL
  17. Washington, D.C.
  18. Richmond, VA
  19. Miami Beach, FL
  20. Charlotte, NC

With the addition of Arts + Design to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, future generations will contribute to the creative class and creative economy as a result of early exposure to the arts through primary education.

To that end I’d like to say thanks Suzanne Bonamici, full STEAM ahead.



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