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money for art

updated sat 4 aug 01


Joyce Lee on fri 3 aug 01

Marie said:

"... budget money is only
allocated (for most but not all schools) to programs that will benefit =
entire student body... meaning Art isn't one of those things, as it is
elective ..... this totally blows me away thinking of all the money that =
into sports... my kids aren't into sports, those dollars don't do a =
thing for
I empathize with Marie and other parents who have made these same =
observations. You're right. However, I would like to point out that =
when approaching administrators and school boards of education about =
further funding for the arts in your school districts, it is likely =
wiser to accent the positive aspects of an art program and the major =
benefits ALL students may accrue from exposure to performing and visual =
arts. Student athletes need art, too, you know. If you don't believe =
that, you're championing the wrong cause.

It is never wise to imply criticism of another program in order to =
improve the quality of whatever program YOU may be promoting.

I know that here we're simply talking to one another ... one claybud to =
another claybud ... and that it's important to be able to do so freely, =
without fear of being jumped on because we express our feelings. But =
I've seen good programs NOT receive the support they might have received =
because the emphasis veered from what's great about the program under =
discussion to the negative aspects of other programs which are already =
funded. The attitude sometimes seems to be ... "gimme theirs"... not =
even to "gimme part of theirs" .... which can create enemy camps before =
you even have a friendly camp of your own from which to work.

Some districts (including ours) have managed to make a year of
Fine Arts a prerequisite for high-school graduation.... after some heavy =
research and skillful presentations to the community in order to garner =
their support. Mobilization of parent groups can do wonders! AND if you =
manage to help the "music parents," for example, promote their cause, =
which often is a widespread, popular one AND underfunded .... you =
probably can piggyback ceramics etc onto the music program. =20
Once you open the discussion to a positive one about ART.. any ART... =
anything could happen.

It is my experience that too many fine arts supporters battle with one =
another for the same dollars...... ASK for MORE DOLLARS ... that's the =
your kids' education .... find out how your district can gain more =
financing.... find out about writing grants etc. Visit districts who DO =
have well funded art programs; meet with the teachers or parent =
organizations of those districts to discover their secrets.... how did =
they manage what your district cannot...... get the DETAILS.... And, =
yes, you'll need to go through "administration" in order to visit ..... =
don't operate from a clandestine atmosphere... approach the =
superintendent .... we're talking about PUBLIC schools here... it's your =
right to visit .... as long as you go through whatever system is in =
place for visitors.=20

Ask what you can do to help increase the money for next year's =
budget.... We needed some major renewal work on our performing arts =
building .... roof, stage, lighting etc etc. It wasn't fair that the =
drama teacher had to do all the leg work, but she cared enough to find =
out what was needed and then worked with the district in achieving those =
needs. EVERYTHING on her list was eventually
accomplished!! Although, of course, by that time she had a new list. =
Good for her! And good for her students...... OUR students.

Start today promoting individuals for your next school board election =
who will be favorable to your cause. Nothing wrong with that. That's =
the way the process works.....

Some few seem to relish the fight more than winning the battle .... but =
if that isn't the case with you, research-research-research and THEN =
work for improvement. It's YOUR school district ... just because your =
kids have reached teenagerdom doesn't mean that they don't need you =
personally to work with the schools...... the needs are simply different =
..... Room Mothers may not be a necessity, anymore ..... but teaching =
your kids how to work with the system and emerging from a gentle fray =
with what one needs could be significantly important to their present =
and future.
Being teenagers, they generally already have Bitching down to a science =
(OR up to an art form)... teach them the next steps.

Enough soapboxing.....=20

In the Mojave