• Lullaby Project 1
  • Lullaby Project 2

*The opinions expressed in materials on this website are those of the author(s) and do not represent the views of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Office of Research & Analysis or the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included in these materials and is not responsible for any consequences of its use. This NEA Research Lab is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts (Award #: 1879148-38-C-21).

Who has the right to create? Who has the right to imagine?

Across centuries, individuals from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds have drawn upon creativity, imagination, invention, and artistic skill as sources of resilience, healing, connection, growth, and social change. Opportunities to cultivate these skills, however, are not always shared or protected; poverty and systemic racism create opportunity gaps in children’s access to the arts and creative experiences.

At the Research on Equity via the Arts in Childhood (REACH) Lab, we partner with community organizations that promote equity in access to arts and creative experiences to study their impact on children and families facing stress and trauma related to poverty and racism. We are committed to building on individual and community strengths and to examining what could happen if children and families were provided with culturally relevant and supportive opportunities for experiencing, engaging, imagining, inventing, and originating. We are beginning our inquiry into this question with an in-depth set of studies focused on music.

The work of the REACH lab is a result of a cooperative award from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Research Labs program.


April 24, 2023: Save the Date for the 1st REACH Convening to be held at Settlement Music School, Philadelphia, PA (email for details).

March 23-25, 2023: The following REACH studies will be presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah:

Varnell, S., Brown, E.D., Holochwost, S., Wolf, D.P., Allen, A., Malatesta, J., Garnett, M.L., & Velazquez-Martin, B. (2023, March). Visual Arts Activities Relate to Interest and Cortisol for Children in Head Start Preschool.

Brown, E.D., Holochwost, S.J., Wolf, D.P., Allen, A., Charya, P., Garnett, M.L., Velazquez-Martin, B., & Varnell, S. (2023, March). The Magic’s in the Making Music: Music, Dance, and Cortisol for Preschool Children Facing Adversity.

  • In Paper Symposium: Prevalence of Arts Engagement in Childhood and Associated Benefits for Cognitive, Physiological, and Social-Emotional Outcomes
  • Chair: Melissa Menzer,, National Endowment for the Arts

January 2023: REACH investigators will have the following study published. The work was facilitated by a prior NEA award:

Brown, E.D., Weaver, Z., Streich, M., Shivde, G., & Garnett, M.L. (2023). Cortisol across preschool day relates to teacher ratings of executive functioning for children facing economic hardship. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 62, 31-40. DOI:10.1016/j.ecresq.2022.07.006

January 2023: Steven J. Holochwost will lead a professional development session on social-emotional learning for teachers in Prince George’s County, Maryland in association with Arts for Learning Maryland and their Education Innovation and Research Grant.

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