Underfunding of art programs looms

By Andrea Curiel
Flapjack staff

For many involved in a creative program, their involvement is their main method of stress relief. Take away that method of stress relief, and the negative results are endless. Then there are the countless stories of shy, introverted teenagers possibly saved by joining some kind of creative ensemble and coming out of school with irreplaceable friend groups and outgoing personalities. Art programs are crucial to human development. But in many public schools, they’re becoming obsolete.

Braedyn Tawyea, psychology major at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, was involved in his high school’s music program and thoroughly believes his involvement was beneficial to his overall health and wellbeing.

“I love music so I participated in choir, band, and marching band in high school. I got to relieve a lot of stress when I played or sang,” Tawyea said. “I would say 100 percent that art programs aren’t seen as valuable anymore, which sucks considering how helpful they can be when you’re stressing about core classes and you just want that one fun class to be creative in.”

With President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities,  federal support for the arts is on track to failure. New York Times writer Sopan Deb reports that only $300 million of the $1.1 trillion annual discretionary spending is currently being put towards both endowments, and each endowment receives a multitude of grants from coveted artists for decades, which solidifies the importance in society. Unfortunately, the government thinks otherwise, and some are fully determined to eliminate all “unnecessary” spending.

In K-12 public schools, similar funding concerns have resulted in classroom creativity being overlooked at young ages, and the emergence of increasingly STEM-heavy curriculum.

In high schools, art programs are losing funding, and are treated more as electives instead of requirements. Music programs are forced to fundraise year-round, art and theater classes resort to using scrap materials, journalism and design programs lack the proper technology to generate a decent product.

However, on the other end of the educational spectrum, science labs receive new equipment more frequently than arts programs. Math lessons are more prevalent than music lessons, and it seems as though being unable to write a decent sentence is not a problem as long as you know how to balance math equations.

Ana Judith Puga, a 19 year-old environmental studies major at HSU, is passionate about the sciences but has always had a special connection to the arts.

“I do feel like art programs have decreased because people don’t think funding for art is as important for as other academics,” Puga said. “I took art and music classes in middle school and high school, and our theater class was never a class, just a separate program.”

Recent high school graduate Kasea Horn, 19, believes her lack of involvement in art programs was because of the severe underfunding of them.

“I was involved in photo for two years,” Horn said. “I was never really too involved though because the programs at my school had no money. It’s like art programs aren’t really emphasized in school these days.”

 

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