Lucy Birtwistle, Graphic Design
When money’s tight, many schools look to the arts department as the first area to fall victim to budget cuts.
Schools. We all have them, we all attend them. When you think of school, your mind might quickly go to subjects such as math, science, history, English, so on. What about
By the end of 2019, an estimated 25% of public schools will have completely eliminated their
departments due to lack of funding. arts
More About the Problem
Schools don’t have endless supplies of money. Hence, they need to make changes and cuts where/when it’s necessary. However, budget
- Loss of teaching positions for
artsteachers. Following their decision to close many of their schools, the public schools of Chicago laid off around 1000+ teachers a few years ago, around 10 percent of which were from the artseducation departments (more than any other sector).
- Elimination of the classes that many students find the most interesting, thus potentially decreasing school-derived enjoyment for the students and worsening the school experience. About this, a principal in North Carolina said that “You can’t just offer (especially at the high school) math, science, social studies
andreading. What that does is cut out the courses that students can be interested in. The elective courses are what keep the students in school.”
- Lack of benefits that come with
artsclasses. Countless studies have been performed and have all reached a similar conclusion: students benefit in other areas as a result of art education. Art is shown to “help rewire the brain in positive ways” and “raise achievement levels” and “help connect students to the larger world” and so on.
In My Community
Though my school is a fairly well-funded private school that reaches many affluent families and communities, the arts department is lacking much like any other school. The school is Pre-K through 12th grade, but especially with the development of the newer high school division and all of its programs, the arts were definitely neglected, especially in relation to other areas of the school.
I interviewed a parent volunteer in the arts sector of my school’s elementary division to get a firsthand perspective on the subject.
Can you give a brief overview of what you do, in your own words?
I run the lower school musical theater program as a parent volunteer for Nueva (my school).
Why did you choose to help run this program?
I have children and friends of my children who love theater and there was previously no program at the lower school so I worked with the administration to find a theater company who we could contract with to create a musical theater after school program for the elementary school
What were some of the struggles you faced while running the program?
There was no staff member at Nueva who was responsible for making sure theater was a success so I had to essentially beg for the
after schoolcoordinator to give me a little time so we could set up the program. Additionally, some of the kids could not afford the cost of the musical and because there was no official funding from the school (hence the kids were required to pay a fee so we could pay the external theater company), some of these kids simply could not participate, which was frankly upsetting and unjust.
How do you think theater benefits the students?
In terms of musical theater specifically,
theateris an activity that many young children (and children in general) enjoy and it gives them a great opportunity to practice performing in public. It’s also a bonding experience for the students and a great after-school activity for kids whose parents work.
More generally speaking, what do you think the benefit is of engaging in some sort of art-related activity, especially in cohesion with school?
I believe there are many benefits of art in schools. Firstly, it provides a different kind of creative outlet for kids to expand their horizons. Not all kids love sports or academics so it provides an alternative opportunity for kids to thrive and discover their interests & talents. Many kids also might not otherwise be able to discover certain areas of interest due to lack of exposure to the arts. Also, generally, I think art is a great practice for the mind, body, and soul!
Students dance around in a number from the school’s musical theater production.
The musical they put on was Guys and Dolls, and they had a cast of about 50 kids.
About the production, one 5th grader stated that “it’s always the highlight of my year! It’s so much fun and I love singing and dancing!”
Design Components: We Heart Art
In order to promote change related to this issue and spread awareness, I wanted to focus on the more positive aspect involved with celebrating art (rather than reprimanding schools). To do so, I wanted to create some sort of logo that would represent this as well as designs for something like pins that could be worn to raise awareness. I also wanted this logo to be able to serve as the icon for some sort of related social media campaign.
Students at my school showing support by wearing the pin
Poll: Your opinion
Take the poll below to contribute your personal thoughts based on your experiences in your school’s arts department.