November 22, 2017

Keep funding in the arts

Posted

As someone with a background in theater, it’s probably no surprise that I feel strongly about keeping the arts in our communities and providing chances for students to learn more than what can be taught in gym and the classroom.

I’m not going to go on a tirade about a certain someone who feels the need to cut what precious little funding is available to the arts. It’s all been said before, I’m sure. But I will go into why we need the arts in our communities and educational system and why we should think before cutting arts programs before anything else.

My own school cut funding from the arts program before I even entered high school. As I attended a small school with few sports available to girls, it was important to me to be able to try new things. I ended up driving 30 minutes to a community theater two towns away four to seven days per week to participate in acting because sports no longer interested me. But this isn’t an option for a lot of students who have other obligations, no car or no community theater nearby.

Now, I understand sports garner more money and attention for schools, but the arts are just as important for a variety of reasons. Theater teaches confidence, public speaking, memorization, commitment, problem-solving skills and many other things that greatly benefit students later on in life, even if they only participate once.

Many skills learned in theater directly benefit work-life. This doesn’t just apply to being on stage, because there are many technical positions available such as lighting, stage crew, set design, makeup/hair, costumes and more, depending on which show is being put on.

It’s great to fundraise and donate to sports programs. You aren’t going to get an argument out of me about that. But it’s equally important to fundraise and donate to arts programs in order to teach students different lessons they may not learn if theater, music or art weren’t being taught. The developing mind of a teenager needs more than high ACT scores and a ticket to the basketball game to succeed.

I honestly believe theater helped me to come out of my shell, and I learned a lot about myself that I might never have known otherwise. After all, I majored in communication and minored in theater. For a shy, backwards person, it can be life-changing to see yourself in a new role outside of what you thought you could do. You might even learn something simply from observing art.

This leads me to my final point: support local artists! Go see school plays, visit art exhibits and buy the albums of local musicians. Not only does this mix up the monotony of usual weekend plans, but it also helps cover the costs to create more art.

It’s fair to say that art isn’t something that funds itself easily, so it’s important to think about its positive effects when deciding where to cut programs or whom to donate to.

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