Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


George Theoharis


arts education, equity, leadership


In May of 2020, over fifty arts and education organizations released a joint statement regarding the essential nature of arts education (NAEA, 2020). This announcement and subsequent campaign highlighted some benefits of a rich arts education such as increased social-emotional well-being and levels of empathy, the development of a safe and welcoming school environment, as well as lower suspension and drop-out rates (Gehry, 2020; NAEA, 2020). It also highlighted the consistent inequities that continually plague arts education programs (Gehry, 2020).

Five district level arts leaders from New York State, striving for equity in their programs, participated in this phenomenological, multi-sited, qualitative study looking at the impact of leadership practices on equity and excellence in arts education. This dissertation is guided by the following research questions: 1) What are the major contributing factors necessary to produce an excellent and equitable K-12 arts education program? 2) What leadership beliefs, actions and experiences influence and sustain equity in the arts for students?

An Arts Equity Framework (Kraehe, Acuff & Travis, 2016) and ten “high-leverage equitable leadership practices'' (Galloway & Ishimaru, 2015, p. 376) provide a foundation for analysis in which to understand leadership actions that promote and sustain equitable and excellent arts education programs as well as lead to the development of a theory of leadership for arts equity. Implications for implementation of this theory of leadership for arts equity as well as future research conclude this dissertation.


Open Access