Who Advocates For The Arts?

Source : Danielle Ray, USA TODAY

Source : Danielle Ray, USA TODAY

Kylie MacKinnon, Writer

Splashes of paint or cheers on the field? Would the Pentucket community rather support the arts or sports? Art students are wondering why so many schools are defunding their art departments, and if we should expect the same shocking fate.


Public high schools across the world are defunding art departments. Should we be worried?

In a conversation with Marcia Nadeau, an art teacher at Pentucket, it was stated that funding isn’t the issue.“I think the Pentucket Arts Foundation does a great job bringing art to the school and to the community,” she said. The problem is with the support system, and it was made clear interviewing art students and teachers alike that support for the arts is a key factor in maintaining an art department. Going back and forth, Ms. Nadeau brought up some good points on how schools tend to base upon their funding for the arts instead of bringing in new support. “I think we have a lot of dedicated and talented teachers, but we have to keep vigilant that we continue that [support] and not just rest on it,” Ms. Nadeau clarified. 


Cutting off funding for art departments has been a hot topic all around the world. With just a quick google search on this topic, many articles about different schools defunding their own art departments can be found. As stated by this article written by The Guardian, a plan for cutting 50% of the funding for arts education at universities in Europe has been made for this coming fall. This means that supplies, trips, and any other costs for art students must be paid for by either the teacher or the students themselves, making art less accessible to all students. 


An education code in California mandates that every school is required to offer visual and performing arts, also known as VAPA. According to this article on edsource.org, however, about 9 out of 10 schools throughout California do not offer VAPA in any of their programs. This is frustrating to many art students here and around the world because the opportunities provided by art are being taken away from not only students but for communities that could be benefiting from those art programs. 


The idea that schools from Europe all the way to California are taking the opportunity for students to express themselves in high school and college is extremely disheartening news. Luckily, Ms. Nadeau made it clear that our Arts Department has a strong base to hold us up. In order to help the art department remain active and lively here at Pentucket, however, they require our support. 


Does everyone advocate for the arts? Or only the people interested?


“I think it would be really wonderful if it was advocated for by not only the teachers… but from the students.” Ms. Nadeau brought up the idea in relation to society. “I think it’s a part of humanity, for everyone to advocate for the arts, even if it’s something they are not interested in.”


In a discussion with Kara Keene and Abby Stearns, two seniors and art students at Pentucket, it was agreed that people will support what they are actively interested and participating in, and ignore what they are not interested in. 

“They still appreciate the arts, but they wouldn’t advocate for the arts and probably wouldn’t care if it was taken away,” Keene said. 


Commonly seen not only at Pentucket, but all schools and even in society, people support what they are interested in. For example, the NFL would most likely be watched by football fans, not oil painters. While this ideology makes sense, the arts departments in high schools all over the world need our support, whether we are interested in art or not. 


Although not everyone may be interested in the creation of the arts, there is evidence that the community benefits from them. Plays, music, and art in the hallways of Pentucket are all examples of how the arts give to the community. But what if that was all taken away?


The Pentucket community benefits from the arts, so how can we support them?


According to the students and teachers here at Pentucket, the arts are surely important to the community. Mia Emmi, an orchestra participant and senior at Pentucket, noted that everyone benefits from the arts as it is a form of expression. While classes such as math and history cannot display the creativity of an individual; theater, orchestra, and painting can. 


After interviewing Emily Wessant, another senior and theater student at Pentucket, the common thinking across the arts community is obvious. “Most classes don’t have room for creativity.” Said Wessant. The arts are a good creative outlet, where other classes such as math or science do not have the ability to allow students to express themselves. Wessant also agreed that the community benefits from the arts, making every art student and teacher interviewed come to a unified opinion. 


 “It’s important to the community because it brings a vibrancy,” said Ms. Nadeau. “Think of a school without an art program [or a] music program; it would be, for me and many of my students, hard to get through the day.” 


This raises another idea; what would the school be like without the arts? Talking with Ms. Nadeau, an idea to both answer this question and possibly raise support was fabricated. “If we showed the impact [that the arts have on the community] by giving the community something, and then taking it away and seeing what the response is, it might make them think,” Ms.Nadeau said. It was settled that the goal is to “try to intrigue…people that don’t advocate for the arts. Getting them to think [about art] might inspire them.” This may ultimately lead to more people interested in the arts, even if it is just for viewing, which will achieve the goal of finding more support for the Pentucket Arts Department. 


Art is an important part of society… and highschool


“It’s everywhere. Everything’s art. Tell me I’m wrong,” said Stearns when asked why art is important. “-if we didn’t have art, we wouldn’t have clothes; let’s be real.” It is obvious that many Pentucket arts students feel like art is important. It is the center of everything and can be connected to almost any area of life. 


“Logos, advertisements, posters. Everything around us is art.” Replied Keene to the same question. But not only is art important to society, but it is also important to high school. Art is a major career choice for many students going to college. Whether it be theater, music, visual arts, or even literature, there are so many artistic career options. Especially today, there are even opportunities for careers like graphic arts and animation. Studying art in high school opens up these opportunities for students to explore their creative side and decide if a career in the arts is what they want. 


“Art is important to a lot of students; for some students, that’s why they come to school,” Said Ms. Nadeau. “It gives students another method to communicate their thoughts and ideas… and it provides an opportunity, I think, for students to get to know themselves. And when students get to know themselves, it’s empowering. Because every student is different,” Ms.Nadeau then went on to say; “The more you get to know yourself, the more you get to develop and create a future of your choosing.” 


Yet another idea brought up by Ms. Nadeau; the arts allow students to figure out what they want out of life. Some students decide they want to take a creative path, while others enjoy the listening and viewing part of the arts. While either are important to art, one thing is certain; art is an essential part of both society and schools. In order for our students to continue to express themselves and have access to the arts, the entire community at Pentucket must collaborate and learn to advocate for all the departments in the school, especially the arts.