Arts programs at our public schools teach students to see and understand the world around them, and interpret that understanding through their own unique lens. Students develop visually literate and aesthetically sensitive skills.

Student exhibition opportunities

Hawaii Regional Scholastic Art Awards
The Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards is the longest-running, largest and most prestigious student recognition program in the United States. Teens in grades 7 through 12 can apply in 29 categories​ of art and writing for their chance to earn scholarships and have their works exhibited and published. The Hawaii Regional event determines which works will be considered at the national level for exhibits and scholarships, and are exhibited at the Hawaii State Art Museum.

Partner contests

Arts o​vervie​w

The creativity sparked by arts education develops skills of communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Through the arts, students also gain life skills such as the ability to collaborate with others, the value of practice, and the need for perseverance and hard work to achieve quality. All students should have the opportunity to learn in and through the arts.

Elementary School: Many elementary schools provide art programs within the school day as part of an exploratory wheel, or have their teachers integrate art through core subject area instruction. Many schools also offer art focused extended learning opportunities through after school and summer/winter break programs.

Secondary School: Middle and high schools offer art programs in the Visual Arts, Drama, Dance and/or Music. These programs help to provide students with a well-rounded education and a way to grow as an individual. The Department's graduation requirements allow students to explore this coursework by requiring two credits in either World Language, Fine Arts and Career and Technical Education, and six credits in any subject area.​ High schools also offer arts programs through their Learning Centers in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), Performing Arts and Music.

Arts and the Co​mmon Core

DOE Poster

Art is a powerful pathway into the Hawaii Common Core​ standards, offering students lessons in how to observe, describe, interpret and pursue further inquiry. 



The Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts

The HSFCA sponsors several arts education programs. They also provide the Art Bento Program that brings artists into the schools and allows students to visit the Hawaii State Art Museum as part of an excursion. The HSFCA also generously supports the Scholastic Art Awards for secondary students, the Hawaii Convention Center Student Art Exhibition for elementary students, and the Poetry Out Loud competition.

Arts Alliance

The Hawaii Arts Alliance for Arts Education

The Alliance annually sponsors an Art Institute for elementary school teachers to learn more about how to integrate art into their classroom, as well as art contests for students and the Arts Excellence Awards, which honors and gives cash awards to schools with exemplary arts disciplines. ​​HIDOE and Hawaii Arts Alliance have teamed with Turnaround Arts, a successful national initiative of the President's Committee on Arts and the Humanities, to bring arts integration to three schools: Kalihi Kai Elementary, Waianae Elementary and Kamaile Academy. View press release.

Honolulu Museum

The Honolulu Museum of Art and Art School

The Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation, interpretation, and teaching of the visual arts. The Art School offers classes for adults and children, and the museum offers school tours and outreach programs, as well as teacher resources.

Honolulu Theatre for Youth

Honolulu Theatre for Youth

Performing arts resources for teachers and students​ available. Video below shows the how performing arts can be used to help students learn about risk.

Maui Arts and Cultural Center

Maui Arts and Cultural Center

MACC​ has teamed with Pomaikai Elementary School to create a fully arts-integrated school. The Center provides a Summer Institute for Educators and PD courses in arts integration during the school year. Their CanDo! Days give students in grades 1-5 the opportunity to participate in a full day of arts learning.


The Hanahau‘oli School Professional Development Center

The Professional Development Center at Hanahauʻoli School offers workshops and coursework for educators with a particular emphasis upon early childhood and the elementary years. Programs include teachers from both public and independent schools, joining together to create learning communities that foster 21st century skills. Opportunities range from one-time workshops to multi-week courses and institutes with follow-up support, application sessions, and thematic unit development. 

Hawaii Opera Theatre

Hawaii Opera Theatre

HOT​ reaches thousands of students each year via student dress rehearsals, tours to schools, school residencies and more.

East West Center

East-West Center

The EWC Arts Program​ offers exhibitions, performances, and artists' lecture-demonstrations to the public, and invites Oahu teachers to bring school groups to its educational outreach programs especially designed for students.


Estria Foundation

The Mele Murals program creates art in public spaces locally and globally with artists, youth, educators, and activists in order to raise awareness and inspire action in the movement to resolve human and environmental issues. See this mural completed at Kaimukī High​ that is connected with Mālama Honua​.

Hilton Alves

Surf Art Kids: Hilton Alves

Surf Art Kids, created by Hilton Alves, is a social project designed to expose children and youth to environmental awareness and foster in them a respect and love for the ocean through art. The initiative aims to bring marine art into the lives of the youth through social activities. See the mural component of the Legacy Project at Kanoelani Elementary.

Art Explore

Art Explorium

This non-profit art studio for children, located in Kaimuki, provides a fun, safe place where children of all ages have the opportunity to create freely. Offering workshops, after school programs, in-studio field trips, and Open Studio (drop-in hours). Art Explorium focuses on the creative reuse of items that are normally thrown away such as corks, bottle caps, fabric scraps, cereal boxes and more. Creative reuse resources for educators include project ideas and art supplies.

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​Success stories

  • Nurturing a lifelong passion for art [VIEW​]
  • Leilehua High students make their mark in national Scholastic Art Awards program [VIEW]
  • NEA Chair sees action in Hawaii public schools [VIEW​]
  • Arts, Common Core and a first-year DOE teacher meet at Honolulu Museum [VIEW​]
  • Students shine in Scholastic Art Awards regional competition [VIEW]​
  • Celebrating Hawaii comes easy for Student Art Exhibition participants [VIEW​]
  • Maui Arts & Cultural Center connects students to a legend [VIEW]

Arts in the news

  • Arts program strengthens students' critical thinking | Honolulu Star-Advertiser​

    ​​"It's not just adding an art project to the established curriculum, but really using the strategies," said Kalihi Kai Elementary Principal Laura Vines. One is called "visual thinking strategy" and involves observing, describing and interpreting, then making corrections and asking questions. It's very different from rote memorization and calls upon the students to use a higher level of thinking.​" [VIEW​]

​Turnaround Arts HawaiiMusicians Jack Johnson and Jake Shimabukuru, and actress Alfre Woodard will work with Kalihi Kai Elementary, Kamaile Academy and Waianae Elementary as Turnaround Artists. The program has helped improve academic outcomes in participating schools through intensive arts education.​

Turnaround Arts kickoff event​Turnaround Arts Hawaii launched in musical fashion at Kalihi Kai Elementary, one of the selected schools for the presidential program. 

Contact Information

Una Chan

Phone: 808-784-6422


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