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The Lantern

Filed under Editorial/Opinion

Arts under fire

Programs for the arts are finding it difficult survive in a world competing for scarce dollars.

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Erasing stray lines, a student works to perfect her art.

Erasing stray lines, a student works to perfect her art.

Olivia Anderson

Olivia Anderson

Erasing stray lines, a student works to perfect her art.

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Debaters dispute issues, theater kids sing, and artists accentuate pictures with either a brush stroke or a simple writing utensil.  As these kids find other ways besides sports to express their talents and joys, they grow not only in themselves, but together. Whether it be a shy girl trying out for her first musical audition or a boy who would rather spend his free time drawing than participating in athletic events, the art programs can bring together so many different groups of people. With each generation bringing a plethora of creativity to the table, it is important to preserve art and help it grow rather than hinder its ability to flourish. However, recent events seem to be doing just the opposite.

Budget cuts are spreading throughout school districts and Cannon Falls High School wasn’t lucky enough to elude them. As possible options to cuts were discussed, many activities such as the musical, one act, debate, art classes, and even half of the librarian position were on the chopping block. While sports were discussed, the school cannot take out one girl sport without cutting a guy sport, making it easier for the arts to be in the center of the crossfire. Although the two should be cut evenly so that both groups of students are able to enjoy the things they love, arts are being hit the hardest. However, Cannon Falls isn’t the only school district facing art cuts. The effects are being felt across the country, especially in California “…where nearly half the districts axed or whittled away at art, drama, and music programs,” according the Huffington Post in December of 2017. However, while art programs are being immensely reduced, sports seem to only be facing mini crises like the need for students to pay for their own jerseys or some bussing. The Campaign for America’s Future released a statement in October of 2017 which showed that cuts are even causing elementary programs to have an increased class size while also causing the “termination of art, music, physical education, and other elective subjects”. As the two sides compete, arts activities are clearly the underdog when it comes to budget cuts while sports are facing a victory.

President Trump has only made matters worse. He slashed the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts- the organization that funds arts- by 80% from $148 million to $29 million. As the arts were struck out yet again, the team was feeling the impact because the NEA splits its budget into two groups in which 40% goes to state and local authorities and the other 60% goes to those seeking grants or scholarships. This money eventually trickles down and could end up in a high school band, dance program, or theatre group. With school districts already facing drastic cuts, almost completely depleting their funds for art programs is having detrimental effects to not only schools, but students as well. Even though art has been known to have positive effects on academics and also creativity, students are watching their electives and hobbies slowly be stripped away from them. A college professor at UClA’S Graduate School of Education and Information wrote in a paper that when students had a high involvement in activities like music or theater, they scored on standardized tests almost 16-18% higher.

Taking away art programs may be saving money, but it’s cutting a whole group of gifted students out of activity options that make them unique. Sports players have multiple opportunities and their fields aren’t facing the pressure that the arts are. When decisions regarding whole groups of students has to be made, denying one group of the majority of their activities shouldn’t be an option because both the art programs and sports should face equal damage. But for now, sports seem to still be making all the plays while the arts continue to be benched.

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Arts under fire