Why are Fine Arts not valued in public schools? This question has been looming in my mind for years. With child development science and quotes from Plato to Bono it still isn't valued. Why, is the question? And why, has become my quest. As I sit listening to Swan Lake Act 1 Valse, I ponder how Fine Arts has been all but eliminated in some public schools across the country I first blame myself, school administrators and school boards and the leaders of arts departments. I understand the Obama administration announced the 2009 "Educate to Innovate" campaign to motivate and inspire students to excel in STEM subjects. Which seems to be a big shift in focus away from Fine Arts.


In my experience of working in the schools and communities, I notice most do not acknowledge or know all the Art surrounding them. We all take for granted, the sights, sounds and unification of the human experience that Art surrounds us with everywhere on a daily basis. We do not think for one second the time and dedication of over 10,000 hours it took for that artist to paint a landscape. Or how the bass player, John Deacon, in the famous band, Queen, was first introduced to music. There are numerous artists who began participating in choir, plays and musical theatre in high school who formed the skills leading into college and career.

People have no idea how interdependent it is to do a musical. How you rely on orchestra, lighting and sound cue’s, not to mention prop's, set design or fellow actors. The magic is all of these people working together exactly in time and rhythm. I believe the unknown, coupled with teachers and school administration's, who truly don't know production or how to manage the Art department as a business are also in part to blame. There are really two jobs, both teaching and knowing how to fundraise, generate ticket prices, and program training clinics to bring in money to sustain a real viable program. Planing and positioning to accomplish this is something BCB's Bridging The Gap program has tried to help with.


And why not work together with other Arts departments? Why do all of them stay on their own island and fear collaboration when all could shine brighter together? We must expect parent volunteers and student government with in the Art department to help plan and coordinate performances, festivals and fundraising. We also must find a way to be inclusive and choose unifying projects.


Here is what some people think:


Quote from John Rockwell - "They're expensive, time-consuming, often present radical opinions or uncomfortable nonconforming perspectives, and do not directly connect to any testing or school accountability measures. They are generally not seen as utilitarian in the sense of providing students with a viable career choice, and in places where they might (like electrical, tech, or set building), the equipment is usually so slim or out of date, students will have to re-learn those anyway.


Cecil Shern - Somewhere along the line we as a society placed importance on sports which seems to inevitably lead to a short window and few will ever be able to make an actual living. While I believe sports is necessary for all, I just as firmly believe the arts are as well. I know that 2 out of my 4 children have been involved in music instruction weekly since age 5, they have much higher test scores and excel in the stem subjects as opposed to my child that at age 9 started musical training. I think we do a huge disservice by not requiring and putting an emphasis on the arts. We are fortunate that we can afford the private music lessons, and even more fortunate that at age 12 our daughter has already started teaching piano lessons, earning money, and able to start teaching her youngest sibling who is 3.  

Amanda Allyn Patterson - Most people more readily see the direct correlation between the “core subjects” (math, science, etc.) and their utility in valuable careers after school. The arts are cut because “they are less important.” It is more difficult for folks to to see value in the abstract concept of lifelong enrichment through the arts. Also, there is a long history of undervaluing the arts, and objects in motion stay in motion. If adults didn’t have exposure to a rich arts education, it is much more unlikely that they will be supportive because they just don’t understand.


What do you think? Should Fine Arts only be offered outside of school? Should community programs take the place of what we were offered in our school day? How will students know if they have talent or interest without being exposed? Will creativity live on in future generations without exposure to the Arts?


- If you have a an opinion on this please e-mail gina@bigcitybroadway.org


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