The Arts and Why You Should Care

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It’s so easy to live inside our personal bubble and view things through a lens that is skewed…without realizing how things impact us that we are certain do not.  To not see our place in something bigger than who we are.  To be so inward focused, we don’t blink when we see information that should alarm us, simply because we are convinced that impacts someone else…not ourself.  Today, I want to help you see a glimpse into how organizations such as, The National Endowment for the Arts is a big part of your life….even if you never considered that they were.

In your community, have you attended a school musical or play, seen an orchestra play, attended your local community theater, had a child in an art class in school, a music class, been able to take in a local museum on the weekend, seen a Van Gogh up close and personal, watched a child who could not respond verbally respond to music, had an experience with a child who found a way out of the worst of neighborhoods because of exposure to art programs for high risk youth….any of those?  You have benefited from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Have you maybe watched an episode of “Great Performances” on PBS?  Thank the NEA.  NEA isn’t just about classical arts…it’s about community based programs that benefit those in your community-your friends and neighbors.  NEA provides grants to community programs, that allow them to stay afloat…to bring you the things that help to make your community who she is.  It’s about your child’s art teacher, music teacher who has applied for NEA based grants…grants that benefited your child and their education.  It’s about that family you know who has a child pursuing higher education in the arts.  Music, dance, theater, painting, sculpture…those things that bring joy to the hearts of those participating and their audience.  It’s the passion you saw on the face of a student as they performed their Senior Recital/Performance in college-the arts….it’s that incredible program you went to where an orchestra played the musical score to your favorite movie.  The time you maybe helped a child earn funds for a trip to perform at the legendary Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, or dance across the stage as a Joffrey Ballet student during a summer workshop.  It’s that movie you watched and left changed….a movie that used grant funding from the NEA to help with its budget.

It may seem that your arts locally, are funded with all local dollars and donations from patrons-but there is a partnership as well with the NEA.  Grants from the NEA create opportunities for communities and teachers that aren’t available anywhere else.  Without the arts, we become robots…full of information, but no passion for things outside of who we are….we lose the very things we love.

Here are some NEA facts:

  • In 2016, the NEA awarded $5.8 million through 194 grants to support lifelong learning, including support to pre-K through 12th grade arts education projects.
  • In the NEA’s The Arts and Achievment in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies, young adults who had intensive arts experiences demonstrated higher levels of volunteering and civic engagement than young adults who did not.
  • Arts education develops creativity, an important attribute and one of the top five skills employers prize in the 21st century.
  • Between 2006 and 2016, the NEA awarded more than $4.9 million in professional development grants, including the National Dance Education Organization to support workshops and online training to implement National Core Arts Standards in dance for teachers around the United States, and a grant to Virginia Commonwealth University to support Currentlab Game Design Institute for art teachers.
  • The NEA supports the State Agency Directors of Arts Education that works to develop a nationwide infrastructure of arts education peers in state departments of education.
  • NEA funding through arts education programs 1966-2016: $238.6 million
  • In 2013, 130 of 171 arts education grantees or 76 percent reported that their project benefitted an underserved population.

(Above from http://www.art.gov Fact Sheet)

I’ve pulled some grant recipients in communities that I know I have some followers from, so that you can see that, yes, this agency impacts you in a substantial and real way.  (This is just the grants for this semester.) Click the link and then scroll to your state to see the grants for the 2017 Spring semester.  Every single one of us has been to, been part of, or knows someone that the NEA has touched….we just may not have realized it, until today.

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Do you read?  Then you could have read works of literature by someone who used NEA grants, workshops to get their craft to the public…to allow them to take a semester off to write, research…publish.

Do you know a person majoring in music therapy?  NEA funds countless grants and research for music therapy and its impact to the health community, patients, and even those with autism that have shown incredible response to music being added to their therapy.  Researchers are even seeing a connection between music and the success of cancer patients in their healing/treatment process.  https://www.arts.gov/video/task-force-arts-and-human-development-music-therapy-music-listening-and-cancer-experience

  • The American public, by an overwhelming margin, believes the arts are vital to a well-rounded education.(nasaa-arts.org)
  • NCLB act ensures “arts” as a core subject (That’s music, art, band, ceramics, orchestra, theater, drama….things you are part of in your community)
  • Students who participate in arts learning experiences often improve their achievement in other realms of learning and life. In a well-documented national study using a federal database of over 25,000 middle and high school students, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found students with high arts involvement performed better on standardized achievement tests than students with low arts involvement. Moreover, the high arts-involved students also watched fewer hours of TV, participated in more community service and reported less boredom in school. Catterall, James S. (2002), “Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School.” In R. Deasy (Ed.), Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Achievement and Social Development, Washington, DC: AEP

     

    We know the arts work.  We know that the arts impact our society in a positive way.  Below is how the budget of the arts and humanities fit into the overall budget.

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I don’t see waste in the arts.  I see an investment into who we are as a society.  Who are children are.  I see an investment into entertainment, museums, theater, halls across America playing the greats from Bach, Beethoven, Gershwin, Copeland…it’s an investment into those children who find their heart on that first note, first dance step, first finished canvas…those children who choose a life of frugality as adults to bring you, the audience, an arts experience.  Those children, who science has proven, perform higher on math and reading comprehension exams.  Areas of the brain engaged most of us never use.

Enjoy movies?  Enjoy certain favorite actors/actresses?  Many of those are classical trained or have worked where NEA played a vital part to funding.  Some names that might be some that you enjoy:  John Lithgow, Katharine Hepburn, Lynn Redgrave, Angela Bassett, Richard Harris, Bette Davis, Viola Davis, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Williams…and on and on.

So many of our great film scores contain parts from famous classical works…and can you imagine seeing Star Wars or Harry Potter without the music?

Love music on your favorite stations?  Here are some classical trained musicians that you may enjoy: Andrew Bird, Zedd, Tupac, Jason Grant, Barry Manilow, Josh Groban..and on and on..

The Arts are the voice of so many….to say the NEA is a waste of dollars, is the same as saying the children and adults we know in these fields….are a waste as well.

Let’s not make the Arts and Humanities another political weapon.  Every party has always agreed on the Arts and Humanities and its place in our society.  Let’s not forget its part of who we are.  It’s part of who your community is.

Someone said to me today that cutting this would not change if your child could take music lessons….yes…oh yes it could…and will.  Those seeking higher education in the arts depend on grants to help fund their studies, their training…especially at the professional level.  A semester abroad to study the music/dance/art of different cultures, or work with some of the worlds greats….not having access to that will indeed impact access to quality arts training.

For my family, this is personal.  This is my sons chosen path in life….the arts.  Cutting funding for the arts is someone saying that his career path isn’t vital in our America.  That it doesn’t have a place in who we are as a nation.  Oh the sorrow our hearts will feel as we learn what it is like to live in a nation where the arts aren’t valued.

Today, I ask you to visit your local museum, a play, a performance of your local orchestra, your local school band…..to sit and watch those students who lose themselves in the creation of art..in all of its forms…..and then tell me it isn’t vital to America to support the arts.  Turn on your radio, listen to music…some of which has been created by citizens who studied for years to create a craft you would want to hear.  College professors in the arts typically have their PhD.  That’s the amount of training it takes to be at a level where you can teach your craft.  A waste….no….an investment, yes.

 

 

 

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