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Editorial: The arts are underfunded and underappreciated

It’s time to stop overlooking an issue plaguing most of our colleges, high schools and even middle schools.

That problem is the fact that the arts are underfunded and underappreciated.

Think about it: when was the last time you saw an athlete sewing or making their own jersey, maintaining the court or field they play on, or hosting a game or event as a fundraiser so they can keep playing?

For many arts students, they have to make their own costumes, build their own sets and supplies, set up their own exhibits, ask for donations for exhibits, and host fundraisers so they can keep doing their art.

Some could argue that building sets, designing costumes, and making supplies helps students learn and is part of the academic experience, but that still does not explain why arts programs have to do fundraiser performances just so the students can gain acting experience.

When you research the fundraisers being conducted by VSU’s art programs for the 2019-2020 school year, a list of six different fundraisers show up, while VSU’s athletic departments has fundraisers listed.

So where does funding for sports come from?

In VSU’s 2020 fiscal year budget report, there is 3.9 million dollars is allocated for sports.

On top of the nearly four million allocated in VSU’s budget, there are countless booster clubs that pour even more money into athletic programs, yet there are no booster clubs for theater, art and design, or any other area of fine arts.

It is unfair that the arts programs have to rely on fundraising.

One thing that the fundraisers provides to the program is scholarships. Athletes don’t have to raise money for their scholarships, yet art students do.

Avid sports fans would argue that large amounts of funding for sports is worth it because sports provide entertainment and teach athletes various skills such as teamwork.

Theater, dance, art exhibits and music all offer entertainment and skills, so why are they not heavily funded as well?

Funding for the arts or lack thereof, is not just a problem at VSU or even in this region, but it is a problem plaguing the country as a whole.

According to former Harvard President Drew Faust, music and arts programs are usually the first ones to go in schools.  That is no different for colleges facing budget cuts.

Collegeart.org states over 60 schools including the University of Missouri and University of Texas Austin, cut art majors and graduate programs when those universities faced budget problems.

Lack of funding is not the only problem plaguing arts programs as a whole, but the value and appreciation placed on arts is often less significant than sports.

Sports fans, athletes and staff would also argue that sports are appreciated because it takes hours and hours of preparation, drills and practices to make a team game ready and championship ready.

By the same token, artists spend weeks creating their art work, musicians spend hours practicing their instruments daily, dancers spend hours rehearsing, and theatre students spend months putting together a musical or production.

Athletics also have specific seasons for their sports, while arts and theatre are activities that take place all year round.

Just look at VSU’s schedule of events — there are theater productions, art exhibits, and concerts that take place continually each semester.

Long story short, if we don’t start funding and valuing our arts programs as much as we value and fund sports, they will start disappearing and negatively impact students who choose those creative careers.

This editorial reflects the general opinion of The Spectator staff. 


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