As budgets get tighter and school boards have to decide where to spend their money, one of the first areas that ends up on the chopping block is the arts. Think ‘Mr Holland’s Opus’ where an inspired teacher who had had such a profound impact on his students over his career lost his job because the principal had to make a decision to cut something in order to save something else. And the music programme was cut.
Every year, when I was a music teacher, I had to create a department budget and then I had to defend it. I know that arts programmes are expensive to run. This is especially true for instrumental music programmes when the cost of reeds and mouthpieces keeps going up, when instruments need to be repaired or replaced and those costs keep increasing, when the cost of music keeps rising. And, after all, the question according to some is “What’s more important? Music or Science?” The implication is that arts programmes for students are frivolous – an add on of no real importance.
As a student and as a teacher, I know how important the arts are. They provide an outlet for creation. And they also provide discipline – practicing, organizing time, concentration, focus. They increase self-confidence when the final product requires that what has been created is displayed in some form of public forum — to try and to learn and to create and then to share that with others.
I do know is that the arts are important. They are personal expressions of inspiration and creativity. They are what form the backbone of our culture. Without the arts, we have no outlet for our imagination and our vision. Our world is less vibrant.
Do not ever believe that the arts in schools are mere frills, filler classes to round out a timetable. Do not tell students that they don’t need to take music or art or drama or dance. Do not suggest that, in the great scheme of things, being involved in the arts doesn’t really matter – that they are inconsequential.
The arts in schools are important. They, as much as our students, are our future.