One Day – Two Agendas: Funding the Arts and Supporting the Arts
Support the arts in your local schools. In less than 7 hours, I had the opportunity to both participate in a difficult strategic planning conversation about funding arts in City Public Schools and I attended an elementary school play. Budget cuts impacted arts programming in my City, Baltimore. I shared in the meeting that now more than ever it is necessary to support arts in the schools and reach as many students as possible. Arts spills into academic subjects. The arts help students become creative learners. Arts help kids process the challenging world around them. The arts in schools need to be valued on the same level as the school guidance counselor. It is unacceptable that the arts are on the front line during budget cuts.
Hours after the arts meeting about budget cuts and outreach initiatives, I attended closing night of my son’s elementary school play. This is my youngest child, so our last elementary school play. The after school rehearsals, the hours of teacher and parent volunteering, school matinees, a cast luncheon and two community wide performances were coming to an end. The beautiful costumes, created by volunteers, would be cleaned and stored for future shows. The hand painted set by teachers and parents would come down. The Middle School Tech Crew raised the lights one last time. The cast took their final bow. Parents gave the last standing ovation.
Photographing The Play – I Saw Through My Eyes and My HeART
As the volunteer play photographer, I sit in the front row, for each play and capture precious moments of the kids’ proud theater experiences. I share the snapshots with the theater families as mementos from our community experience. Please don’t judge my blog photos, I tried to preserve the students’ privacy.
In this final performance, I saw something beyond my camera lens. My heart was moved beyond the play itself… I witnessed family love, pride and community. This was a gift from the theater. The play served as a vehicle for me to see my older children and their friends rise to the occasion of celebrating their younger siblings. It’s something that after all of the laundry, lunch packing and stress is a return payout for the parent. Watching the older siblings celebrate the younger siblings was surreal.
Two of my older kids were sitting near me with their friends. Many of the older kids play baseball together, so our families spend a fair amount of time together, we are an extended family. I was happy for those families, too. I could see the lights bouncing off the older siblings’ faces. The older kids smiled with much pride when their younger siblings entered the stage or had lines. The younger siblings could see us in the audience, and their smiles of comfort, love and gratitude were wide. I could not wait to share this observation with the other parents sitting further back. Also in the audience, were baseball coaches and friends of families, without their own kids in this play, supporting kids they coach, we are a community.
The After Party – Hosted by Parents, Supported by Siblings
The play wrapped up. Parents put together a great after party. And, one of my daughters, and her friends, 6th graders, DJ’d the post party. The songs were preselected and reviewed for inappropriate language. Strobe lights and smoke machines filled the dance floor. It was awesome celebrating as a community supporting the arts. As the night got later and parents went off to other parties not affiliated with the play, we met up at various homes, and celebrated the kids’ successes. The arts bring out the best in people. It was a euphoric night centered around the elementary school play. And, the night was a great reminder that we need to keep volunteering and fighting to preserve art programs in public schools, for all of the children.
eARTh without ART is just “EH”
Supporting the arts is a value that has been passed on to me by my parents. Arts is a value. My kids attend budget rallies in support of the arts. In the arts community, you often find people with compassion and passion. These are people to stick with. Attending your local theater is a great way to shape a kid’s world. Like the expression “eARTh without ART is just EH” kids don’t need EH, they need art. Less than 48 hours after the elementary school play wrapped, the middle school musical is already in progress. Support the arts in public schools. You might get extra lucky like me and see your kids do something to melt your heART.