Guest Post by Arts Council member, Jennifer Scavuzzo
Just yesterday I heard a radio program discussing how to combat the high level of dropouts from our high schools, and one student who was featured discussed how “bored” he is with school. Given the opportunity to see what a better high school could offer (while still taking boring classes like English and Algebra!), he “lit up” when he was able to join in on band practice at the “better” school.
Turns out he had a drum set at home, the only thing he really loved to do. And given the opportunity to participate in musicpractice and performance, he became more motivated to improve in his “boring” mainstream classes.
Imagine how the exposure to Art and Music education touches individuals who might be intrigued by, excited by, these subjects, and who might not be bored and drop out of school and our society because of such opportunities.
The Lehigh Valley Arts Council has the numbers to show the economic benefits of the Arts to our communities. Businesses and jobs come to communities with active Arts programs.
We all know about famous musicians and artists who have been able to succeed because of the Arts–theater, music, drawing, painting, sculpture, dance–they were exposed to in school, at volunteer programs after school hours, in park & recreation opportunities.
What we don’t know are the opportunities our Lehigh Valley citizens will miss if we do not keep the Arts in our parks, our schools, our programs for disadvantaged–or even just “bored”, students.
The Lehigh Valley has historically been a vibrant home for the Arts, and is even more so now than in the recent past. People of all ages and ethnicities are participating in our community activities.
The language of Art and Music is not English, or Spanish, Chinese or Thai. It is universal. It speaks to the human spirit. Please, as you look at the numerous demands being placed before you for use of public funds, see these as building blocks for our future leaders and opportunities for all.
Jennifer Scavuzzo is an arts advocate and serves on the board of the Chamber Music Society of Bethlehem.