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National Art Education Association

Program, Organizational Structure, Membership and Financial Support, History and Development

The National Art Education Association (NAEA) is a nonprofit professional association of art teachers and other people dedicated to the advancement of art in education and national life. The mission of the association is to promote the study of art at all levels of education; to encourage research and experimentation in art; to convince local, state, and federal government officials of the importance of art education; and to improve the status, working conditions, and skill levels of art teachers. The association seeks especially to improve the quality of art education in elementary and secondary schools and in college-level teacher education programs. The NAEA espouses the view that education through art is the means by which individuals realize their creative powers and that the promotion of aesthetic growth is the principal means by which quality art instruction is realized.


The NAEA's goal of promoting the knowledge and skill level of art teachers is accomplished through the association's publications program and through its annual national convention, which feature hundreds workshops, panels, research presentations, addresses, and exhibits. The NAEA's regional groups conduct biennial conferences, where members can engage in direct discussion of problems and exchange ideas and research in the field of art education. In addition, the NAEA sponsors periodic national and international conferences on specific concerns in art education, such as curriculum and instructional development and the uses of new media and technologies.

The NAEA maintains contact with other education groups, such as American Association of School Administrators and the Association for Childhood Education International, in order to communicate the values and beliefs of art educators to those responsible for the administration and supervision of school art programs. The NAEA also engages in consultative activities and works closely with many organizations in the development of art publications for broad dissemination in the field.

In order to effect a favorable climate of opinion toward art in the community-at-large, the NAEA maintains liaison with organizations concerned with the broad promotion of the arts in society. In past years, the NAEA has contributed testimony on federal art legislation before committees of the U.S. Congress. The NAEA also engages in cooperative projects with state arts councils, state teachers associations, and other private organizations and governmental agencies with an interest in the arts.

The NAEA publishes two major periodicals: Art Education and Studies in Art Education. The bimonthly Art Education features articles exploring current views on theory and practice in art education, as well as curriculum and teaching strategies for studio arts, art criticism, or art history courses. Each issue includes four full-color art reproductions, with accompanying commentary and lesson suggestions, to be used in elementary and high school art classes. The quarterly Studies in Art Education covers issues and research in art education and is directed toward advanced researchers and scholars. NAEA News, published six times per year in alternating months with Art Education, details the activities of the association at both the national and regional level, and offers book reviews and information about grants and federal initiatives in art education and arts funding.

The NAEA also publishes monographs, books, and pamphlets on topics related to art curricula, instructional media, professional goals, and research. Many NAEA pamphlets are designed to communicate the value of art education to parents, school administrators, government officials, and others outside the field of art education. Other publications promulgate NAEA-devised guidelines for the safe use of art supplies and materials in the classroom and NAEA standards for art education programs. The association also publishes selected bibliographies and information on careers in art.

The NAEA gives out numerous national and regional awards during the year, most at its annual convention. Major annual NAEA awards include the Manual Barkan Memorial Award, the Lowenfield Award, the Marion Quin Dix Leadership Award, and the J. Eugene Grigsby Jr. Award. Each year the NAEA awards the Charles M. Robertson Memorial Scholarship to a high school student who has excelled in the arts. This four-year scholarship allows the student to attend the Pratt School of Art and Design in New York. Further grants available to NAEA members are awarded by the association's sister organization, the National Art Education Foundation.

In 1978 the NAEA established the National Art Honor Society to inspire and recognize outstanding art students in grades ten through twelve. The NAEA expanded this program in 1989 to include students in grades seven through nine in the hope of generating an early interest in art in younger students.

Organizational Structure

The NAEA is composed of six divisions representing particular areas of interest: elementary education, middle school education, secondary education, higher education, museum education, and supervision and administration. The national organization is also divided into four regional divisions: Eastern, Pacific, Southeastern, and Western.

The NAEA is governed by a board of directors that includes an executive committee lead by a president, a past president, and a president-elect. The board is advised by the officers of the four regional and six area divisions, and by three student chapter officers. The leadership of the regional divisions include a president, past president, president-elect, and one delegate from each state within the boundaries set for the region.

Membership and Financial Support

NAEA members come from each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, most Canadian provinces, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. military bases around the world, and some foreign countries. All individuals who are directly or indirectly involved in art education are eligible for membership. The association maintains seven categories of membership: active, associate, student, institutional, life, patron, and honorary.

In 2001 NAEA had approximately 17,000 members representing every level of education from early preschool art programs to university degree programs, although most members teach in elementary and secondary schools. Not all NAEA members are art teachers, however; some work for publishers of art books and magazines, art supply manufacturers, museums, and other types of art-related organizations. Many members are students currently enrolled in art teacher education programs in U.S. universities. The NAEA is financed through membership dues, sales of publications, exhibit services, and grants from public, private, and corporate donors.

History and Development

Historic antecedents to the present NAEA are the art department of the National Education Association and four regional art associations–the Western Arts Association, the Pacific Arts Association, the Southeastern Arts Association, and the Eastern Arts Association. The first National Education Association department of art education was established in 1890 but was short-lived. In 1947 the four regional art associations merged under a single constitution to form the NAEA, which then became officially the Art Education Department of the National Education Association.


MICHAEL, JOHN A., ed. 1998. The National Art Education Association: Our History, Celebrating 50 Years 1947–1997. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.


NATIONAL ART EDUCATION ASSOCIATION. 2002. <www.naea-reston.org>.


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