Date of Award

December 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education and Organizational Leadership Development

Committee Member

Hans W. Klar

Committee Member

Daniella Hall

Committee Member

Alison Leonard

Committee Member

Lee D'Andrea


Though researchers have demonstrated the benefit of prolonged engagement in the arts (Catterall, Dumais, & Hapden-Thompson, 2012) school districts struggle to maintain high quality programs. Rural programs, in particular, are faced with unique challenges to providing arts programs (Donovan & Brown, 2017). Despite these challenges, some rural school districts have succeeded in providing quality programs, which are more in line with more resourced urban districts. Arts researchers (Bodilly, Augustine, & Zakaras, 2008) have found that arts coordination is a strategy to increase access to and the quality of an arts program. Further, districts of quality, even small ones, have arts coordinators (President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and Arts Education Partnership, 1999). Yet, arts coordination is not well defined in the literature and has not been the focus of any rural study. In this research, a single case study was utilized to examine how one rural school district coordinated the leadership of its arts program using distributed leadership. In particular, the research focused on how different levels of leadership from the district to the teachers were involved and the roles they played in arts coordination. The study also examined what impact arts coordination had on the quality of the program and its connection to the community.

The results of the study suggest that a rural school district should implement distributed leadership in order to coordinate its arts program and impact its quality and connection to the community. Rural districts should consider a multi-level approach to distributing leadership while considering their own context. This study provides a baseline for further research on rural arts coordination.



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