What do we want? Arts Education! When do we want it? Now!
This seems like the mantra every new school year, every budget season, and perennially from youth across our communities. They love art. They love the paint, the sticky glue on their fingers, the seasonal pumpkin sketches, and the field trips to performances and exhibitions. They love using scissors and cutting hearts out of red construction paper, school assemblies, showcasing their ceramics and photography in the halls, learning current media techniques, and most of all, they love the joy of being creative together.
Advocating for arts and culture in our community and schools is a full-time job. We hope that one day it will just be the norm. People will simply understand the value of arts and culture in our community, in our schools. We will not have to advocate for funding and sustaining a vibrant arts education program in our PK-12 schools, but will be thinking instead about all the new courses, and the arts educators we need to hire because the demand for art is so vast and the classes are too full. Imagine.
Yet, arts and culture are in demand now. Arts save lives. We know that because teachers, community members, students, policy makers, data reports and analysis, and arts organizations remind us repeatedly. It is through arts in our schools that an atmosphere of communication and tolerance, a mapping of emotions through creation, enable students to connect to the greater world. There they can express their creative selves, find their voice, and to see the connectedness of the human spirit. In community, we do the same.
Can you recall the world without music, movies, gatherings and performances while we were in lockdown during the global Covid-19 pandemic? The arts enable us to survive through some of our darkest times as a community, and the arts continue to uplift and support us as we struggle not just to survive, but to thrive in our new world.
We ask you to join us as an advocate for arts education in our schools and in our community. Lend your voice to the chorus, and share your experiences and joy with others. Tell your story of how the arts saved you. Nurtured you. Tell your family members to support candidates and board members that want sustained funding in arts education in our community. Support arts councils that advocate for arts and culture in your community. Support arts organizations by volunteering, attending performances, and sponsoring school trips through donations. Whatever you do, be that advocate and voice for arts and culture in our community and schools. Be loud.
-Chanda Evans, Arts Education Manager