Think about how much art shapes every aspect of our lives. Where would you be if your favorite singer never tried writing their first song because they had no chorus program in high school? Or what if your favorite author never realized they could make a career of fictional writing because their creative writing class in high school didn’t exist? We can’t let these hypothetical situations become realities; there needs to be a change in the way that schools perceive the arts.
In today’s schools, art is a necessary, but dying, form of self-expression. A school would much rather buy new uniforms for the football team than costumes for the school show. They would rather buy new netting for the soccer team than new easels for the art students. While around twenty percent of public schools used to support and maintain arts programs, in recent years this percentage has dropped to a striking three percent. It’s more than a shame that this is happening. Because schools are now starting to abandon arts programs in their entirety, they’ve begun to squander the talent of so many potential artists, uninterested in their “hobby.”
"How many students are missing out on the opportunity to pick up a paint brush and explore new possibilities because their school no longer feels the need to pay for an art teacher?"
Although today’s teenagers can still pursue art careers without formal training in schools, art-centric programs in the school setting help provide a foundation for any future job in the industry that they’d chase after. Just think about how many more people go into theatre or poetry professions than becoming professional athletes and how these programs could change their lives. In the NFL, there are only 53 players per team, and only around 300 new spots open each year to play professionally. In the theatre industry, there are thousands of new casting calls announced daily. With so many more jobs available in the theatre field, why not help students prepare to fill them? If just a fractionally larger amount of money could go into the the dying band programs instead of the basketball team, think about how many lives would be affected. How many new teenagers would find passion in composing songs on the piano? How many students are missing out on the opportunity to pick up a paint brush and explore new possibilities because their school no longer feels the need to pay for an art teacher? How many budding animators aren’t finding their style because they don’t know where to start?
"We need to let our voices be heard."
The time when schools say that arts programs are unnecessary has passed. One very common argument for gradually defunding the arts is that more people participate in sports than the arts. But, with more recognition for the arts comes more participation. We must take a stand. Talk to your school arts teachers and ask them what you can do to help make a change. We need to let our voices be heard.
Cover photo: Art class; credit: Zoe Fleck.