Art Has a Major Impact on a Student’s School Experience


Siena Newland, Staff Writer

Imagine a world without art. You might think it wouldn’t be that much different, but so much art goes into the world around us that people don’t realize. It isn’t just paintings hanging in museums, or historical literature. Art is everything from movies, to buildings, to music, to clothes. If you say you don’t participate in the arts or think they don’t matter, think about how many times you have turned on your tv this week, picked up a book, or gone on social media. Even wearing clothes is participating in the arts. Art is the substance of our lives and culture as people, and without art we would have nothing. 

I know firsthand the benefits of participating in theatre, band, and art. Many of my best hours have been spent in the band room, my best weeks spent in the cats of the theatre, and my favorite classes held in the art wing. They give me a place where I let go of my stress. Many of my friends have been made through some sort of art program whether it be band, theatre, or even art club. Knowing this, you can probably assume how devastated I was when It’s been reported that MSUM had decided to cut their theatre program. Especially because the arts are what MSUM is known for. It makes me feel like the arts aren’t safe anywhere. 

In 2020, MSUM proposed cutting 10 majors and 66 positions over the next few years including their theatre department. The situation is outlined in a radio show called It Takes Two with Amy and JJ where the hosts interview the president and CEO of the arts partnership, Dayna Del Val. Due to COVID 19, many schools have had to make budget cuts and it seems like the arts are always the first on the chopping block. Del Val commented in her interview with Amy and JJ that there is a generation of people in America that grew up without a prevalent art education who believe that art isn’t as important as other academic areas such as science and math. Since they didn’t have the opportunity when they were in school, they don’t understand the value of keeping it. Generally, people who don’t see the value in arts education were the ones who grew up in or lived through the great depression. At that time, they had bigger problems than worrying about the arts. Everything they had they had to work for and save for. In a situation that could mean life or death the arts are a lot less important than saving money for food, so I understand why these people may not see the value in the arts. However, times have changed and the arts help people push through the hard times. Our cultures and arts inspire us to keep going so in a time like the pandemic, the arts are what kept a lot of people going, including me. 

There is a petition running at the moment to keep the program alive because there is a chance it will get revived. Something Del Val commented on in her interview was that she wishes people wouldn’t wait until the arts are dying out to help them. People may think that because art is, and has been around their community, it will always be, but without patrons, it can’t stay alive forever. Especially things like the arts because they are expensive to produce and teach. However, the arts touch on so many skills that can be integrated into other classes and into life. Playing instruments uses both sides of the brain instead of just one side like many other activities use. For many instruments the right hand does something different from the left. Musicians have to be aware of many things at once such as their technique, motor skills, auditory cues, and visual cues. Being in theatre uses a multitude of different skills, including acting, dancing, improvisation, and collaboration. Being in an art program lets kids express themselves and unleash creativity in ways that math and science cannot. There are rules to those subjects, and sure there are limits to art, but it is very hard to reach them. 

There are many schools that have made budget cuts including the arts, but they are mostly at the elementary to high school level. Those cuts might make the local news, but in all honesty, they might not make any news because these kinds of budget cuts are so common. One of the reasons why the arts are seemingly always the first on the chopping block is that their value is hard to measure. Other subjects are based on logic, reasoning, and facts, but the arts don’t have to be based on fact. Artists create things from their imaginations and put them into existence. You can’t measure how valuable that is because every person who interacts with the art that someone makes will have a different reaction. Art is supposed to make people feel things. Their value is in the emotions they evoke and the people they inspire. I can’t think of a way to measure that. Math, science, and English are important, yes, but the arts are what make humans human. 

As I watched shows growing up, I always wondered why sports were the priority and the arts were cut. One of my favorite movies as a kid was Lemonade Mouth and that was the whole premise. I never understood why a school would take away a program that was so important to kids just for a bigger, fancier gym. I’m not saying sports and other activities are bad, because sports encourage kids to get out there and exercise, it promotes physical health. Although, the kids who aren’t athletic, but love creating things need a space to do what they love as well. If we cut the art programs in schools, what are those kids going to do.  

Art might be a way for them to cope with things and have a community that understands them. Maybe they don’t have the supplies at home. Maybe that was one of the only places where they felt accepted. There are many people who find comfort on the stage and playing a character because they can be as extra as they want with no judgement. If they don’t have that their mental health could plummet. I feel like this aspect of the arts is overlooked in many ways.  

In the end, the arts may not be the most important to everyone, but they affect everyone’s life. To the people who are actively involved in the arts and creating anything from a music to a painting to a production on a high school stage, it’s what makes life worth living. People who are involved in the arts are some of the most dedicated people I have ever met. To be an artist you must be dedicated, especially now when so many people think what you do isn’t a “real job” or isn’t “important”. Students who are dedicated enough to pursue art without fear shouldn’t have their passions taken away.