Friday, April 6, 2012

Funding the Arts

"F" is for Funding in my A to Z Challenge

Yesterday, I put up a couple of posts about Arts Education in Schools vs "Core Standards", including studies in which employers say that the arts make students more employable and give them needed creative skills.

This is my call for those corporations to step on up, and invest in their future. Put their money towards educating those kids, so five to ten years from now they will have a potential employee pool that better meets their needs.

There are two ways to get arts to kids. One is to get the arts back in schools, which can be done if the artist has the patience and time to formulate a program that fits into the mold of the Common Core State Standards. I teach such classes through Great Big Planet. I was in McKenny, Virginia just the other week presenting a program on Rainforests. The presentation utilizes props, video, student volunteers, and I bring a little live music into the mix. The kids learn about endangered species, how rain forests affect climate, indigenous peoples, and how to make a difference. Schools need funding to bring these types of shows to the kids.

The other way to get arts to kids is through after school programs. I have been part of the Ashland Stage Arts Program and Christian Youth Theater, both programs that teach performing arts to kids. My wife is a piano teacher and teaches kids in her studio. She has also taught dance. However, not all families can afford such after school programs. Businesses should make it easy not only for non profits, but also for individual teachers like my wife, to offer free or low cost lessons to kids. As I've mentioned before, there is a lot of talk about supporting the arts, but not that much about supporting the artists. Artists as teachers shouldn't have to struggle so hard to make a living, and kids shouldn't have such limited access to the arts.

Gold Cup trophies awarded to my wife's piano students through the NFMC

Personally, I'd love to have a studio where I could not only make the props and crazy stuff that I do from time to time, but also could produce large scale puppet theater, all the while teaching kids how to make stuff. Engineering as Art.

When Senator Mark Warner was visiting Ashland, Virginia last week, he said that the Fortune 1000 companies had done very well over the last couple of years, and are sitting on about two trillion dollars that needs to be re-invested in America. Arts education is a good place to start.

"F" is for Funding, and April is Parkinson's Awareness Month

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