When I was in elementary and middle school, art and music programs were a very important part of the school curriculum. In the fifth grade, we were required to learn how to play the recorder. We attended art class at least once a week. Recently, arts and music programs are being viewed as more of a luxury than a necessity. It is not news to us that the government is making cuts to schools on whatever they deem is unnecessary to a student’s education. Arts and music programs are necessary to a student’s education as well as playing a role in helping the community thrive economically.
Arts and music programs help educators to kick-start students' desire to learn. According to an article from the Secretary of Education in Washington, DC, “Through engagement with the arts, young people can better begin lifelong journeys of developing their capabilities and contributing to the world around them. The arts teach young people how to learn by giving them the first step: the desire to learn." Without having art and music classes especially for younger students, educators cannot provide a strong foundation for learning and without a strong foundation, everything that we built on that weak foundation will crumble, fall down and their efforts to teach these students will be in vain.
Second, economically, according to Mic.com,
“Artists provide the creative energy behind much of the production in our nation’s economy. Modes of cultural production — from films to plays, designs to fashion — are everywhere and in nearly every industry. The nonprofit arts industry alone accounts for $166.2 billion in economic activity.”
If school administrators are willing to set aside money to help students' educations now then that money will be returned to the community when they use the creativity that they developed while they are in school to create the next “big thing” in fashion or music or even build the next Sydney Opera House. Arts programs should be viewed as an investment and not as a burden.
Arts and music programs also help students to perform better academically. Four studies were conducted by the NEA to track children, teenagers, and young adults who had high or low levels of arts engagement in or out of school. Such activities tracked were music, dance, theater, or the visual arts as well as out-of-school arts lessons as wells as membership, participation, and leadership in arts organizations and activities, such as band or theater. The results of this study were very encouraging. Students with high levels of participation in these activities had “better academic outcomes with higher overall grades, higher participation in sports and extracurricular activities, a higher likelihood of planning for attending 2-4 year colleges, and eventually more likely to earn their bachelor’s degree.” This should be very encouraging for educators. There is proof that arts programs are helping students to be successful long-term. It is important to know that arts programs are helping students learn and be productive and contributing members of society because this should be the goal of any education institution.
There is also evidence that suggests that arts and music programs also keep kids out of trouble.
According to the National Arts Education Public Awareness Campaign, “An arts education has a measurable impact on at-risk youth in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while also increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in after school and summer arts programs targeted toward delinquency prevention.” Once students get involved in risky behaviors punishable by law, it is very hard for them to stop the behaviors so it is beneficial to keep arts programs in place to give students something safe and healthy to do instead of participating in dangerous and criminal activities.
Many people see arts programs as frivolous, unnecessary activities. I have provided sufficient proof that that is not the case. Art and music programs help provide a strong foundation to create students who are lifelong learners. Arts and music programs contribute to economic stability and growth as well as encourage students to express themselves in a healthy way. Arts and music programs also keep students from participating in risky and criminal behavior and therefore out of legal trouble or juvenile detention centers. I understand that budget cuts need to be made but it is not arts and music programs that should take the hit.