Arts Education blog by Julie DeVito

Arts For All Blog Entry:
By Julie DeVito

When I first envisioned writing a blog post about the status of arts education in New York City Public Schools, I imagined that I would discover a wealth of rather grim information about the decrease in funding for the arts and what children were feeling the effects of cutbacks in music and visual arts education. After beginning my research, I found myself struggling to find any recent news coverage or reports on the subject. That made me wonder why? Why is it that the subject isn’t being discussed that much in popular media? But I did find out that with the nearing November NYC Mayoral election, the leading candidates recently participated in a discussion of their thoughts on the future of education and the arts in New York City. The One Percent for Culture campaign and Young Audiences of New York as well as a coalition of arts, education, and child advocacy groups held the forum. The majority of the candidates agreed that funding for arts education should be restored in the schools, some wanting an increase in funding dollars per student. It was also suggested that the city should create a pool of arts
educators to fill in gaps at smaller schools, ensuring that all children receive certified art instruction. This seems like a positive step for arts education, but why didn’t it receive more coverage?

The Arts For All summer intern Carly did a great job evaluating arts education with her three part blog series, so I decided to talk to some New Yorkers about their experiences with arts education in schools. I decided to let their voices speak for their individual experiences. One student had access to arts education early on, and one didn’t, although they both participated in New York City Public Schools. Both have, however, seen the benefits that the arts provide in daily life.

Here is what they had to say:

Matt Dominguez, 21, was in NYC Public School System, Nutrition and Food Studies Major
In elementary school, he had no forms of arts education.

“At the time nobody questioned it. Looking back I think it would have been nice to have though, especially for those who were genuinely interested in art. I had art in school but not until 6th grade. In middle school it was 2-4 times a week depending on your level on interest. I feel that not having art in elementary school was not a good thing. It made things a lot harder in middle school. I think I would have benefitted from learning art at a younger age. I didn’t have music until middle school either. I think art has helped with my cooking. I truly believe that we eat with our eyes first. Applying art elements such as color and space makes my food beautiful and delicious.”

Tony Chau, 20, Media, Culture, and Communications major at NYU
“Growing up from elementary school through high school, I always had art classes. In fact, they were even a requirement to graduate. I wasn’t always the most artistic student in the strictest sense of ‘art,’ but as I grew older I also grew to appreciate the value of providing art opportunities much more – especially music and theater. While I am on the fence in regards to requiring them as classes, I think every school should offer the opportunity for students to get involved in the arts – especially in the form of extracurricular activities. Like I said, I wasn’t the most artistic student growing up, but in high school I decided to take part in theater productions just on a whim. They were some of the best and most memorable experiences of my life. This may be a stretch, but partaking in theater really made me a better person by exposing me to different types of people and different perspectives and mindsets. It also provided me a channel to exhibit my enthusiasm and allowed me to ‘let go’ in a way that classes and even sports couldn’t. It is something that I definitely miss having in my life right now but at the same time am
grateful for having to have been able to experience that at all.”

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