The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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September 15, 2013

Our View: We can't afford not to fund the arts

HUNTSVILLE — The nation celebrated National Arts in Education this past week with the support in Huntsville of the Huntsville Arts Commission, Sam Houston State University, the Wynne Home, the Main street Board, the city of Huntsville and an internationally esteemed artist with strong ties to Huntsville, David Adickes.

The purpose of this week is to showcase the role arts in the education plays in developing a culture of creative and intellectually active adults.

We agree that all children should have the opportunity, as representatives of the above groups said in a letter to the editor in the Sept. 7 edition of The Item, “to experience the arts as part of their educational experience.”

We agree that arts education is necessary to a child’s development of critical thinking skills, his or her understanding of and empathy will the nation’s subcultures and, importantly, his or her communication skills.

This may lead to the development of successful students by common American standards, but it also contributes to a healthy, functioning society as well as a culture that stays competitive in a global marketplace teaming with innovation.

The United States cannot continue to play its important role in global affairs without the arts as well as a rigorous public education strong on academics and opportunities for extracurricular activities that teach cooperation and as the rewards of teamwork.

Huntsville offers our youth more than arts education available in the classroom and for this we’re grateful.

The Huntsville Arts Commission offers outreach programs. Huntsville benefits from the close proximity of Sam Houston State University, which offers performances through its College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication. The Wynne Home Arts Center has classes for adults and students.

We hope that when taxing entities that support the arts and arts education consider their annual fiscal year budgets that the arts isn’t always the first place they look to cut costs.

It’s a mistake to think that a child’s exposure to the arts is a luxury or a frivolity, something that would be nice to fund if only we could. The arts are as essential as math, language arts, science, physical education, vocational skills and — most certainly — extracurricular athletics.

But it’s also a mistake to think that arts education ends at graduation. The entire community benefits from exposure to the arts. It adds to quality of life in ways that are tough to quantify.

It’s hard to put a price on artistic beauty but easy to see the toll its absence takes on our lives and our culture when it’s been subtracted from the environment.

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