Art and Music Department Budget Cuts – What it Means For Your Child and What You Can Do as a Parent

It is common knowledge that when schools have budget dilemmas the arts are the first casualty.
What is not broadly known is the impact of dismissing art from the lives of our children.
‘Champions of Change, the Impact of the Arts on Learning’ is the most comprehensive study on the subject of students involvement in the fine arts and how it relates to academic success.
The study builds a strong for students achieving higher levels of academic success and in higher overall numbers when involved with fine art.

Per the study;

– 82.6% of 8th graders earned mostly As and Bs who were involved heavily in fine arts versus 67.2% earning A’s and B’s who were not.

– 30.07% of the respondents who participate in fine arts performs community service where only 6.28% of the respondents who do not participate in fine arts perform community service.

– Students who are not heavily involved in fine arts have more than double the chance of dropping out of school by the 10th grade.

– 56.64% of the respondents who participate in fine arts read for pleasure where only 34. Chances are you will a handful of musical instruments in good condition gathering dust in a garage or attic.

These are just some of the findings in the particular study.
Fine arts help teach students far more than how to draw roses in a vase, or how to play the violin.

Fine art helps the creative aspect of your child’s mind grow, instills discipline, provides a sense of pride, self-esteem, and accomplishment.

These attributes not only help students do better academically, but do better in their adult life, with their career, their new family, their emotional well being.

So what do you do if your child’s school has had major cuts in their art program?
Your first option is, of course, private lessons. There are pros and cons that you should be aware of when going this route.

Lets look at the pros first.

First, due to budget cuts and pressure for schools to ensure their students score well on standardized testing (oddly enough the students who are involved in the arts score better on average) the arts get less attention that other subjects in school. Thus the lesson quality is diluted. Meaning your child has an excellent chance of getting better fine art instruction in a professional fine art instruction environment. The classes are smaller, sometimes even one on one. The instructor only has to teach that particular art form.

The other pro to going outside of your school for fine art education is that your child’s success is intimately tied into the instructors income.

A public school teacher who has half of their art class receive failing grades will still be paid the same at the end of the week. The equivalent in the private art instruction world would mean a bankrupt business in a very short order. Providing private art classes is a business. They must produce a good product or risk not being around in the future.

The major con to private lessons is of course if you cannot afford them for your child.
Private lessons cost money. Knowing the benefits of a child being educated in the fine arts, I would happily drive a less luxurious car, or eat out less often to ensure their fine art education.
However this may not be an option if, say you are a single parent, and there is too much month left after the end of your money.

To wrap up this point, private lessons are great, often better than what is provided even in schools that have ample art and music budgets.

An alternative solution may be needed if you you are on a limited budget.

There are things that you can do to help your local school raise money for their art programs.
First and foremost is fund raising. You can go about this many ways. For example in my high school in Burbank California a parent spoke to executives at NBC studios. Two months later NBC donated professional video and editing equipment to our school. Everything for the fine art of film making was at our school.

It may take a bit of creative thinking and a lot of leg work, but your local businesses or local celebrities could be a fantastic funding source for your school. In return they get good PR.
Of course you have the traditional events to raise funds. A car wash, garage sales, silent auctions, etc. The real make break point for the above types of fund raisers is having the right person in-charge to ensure that all the details are taken care of and everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing. If no one shows up to the car wash because no one knew about it, it won’t do anyone much good. Nor will the dozen cookies at the bake sale.
Organize and communicate.

I know a good amount of people. More pertinently I know people who know more people than I could ever hope to know. When confronted with the difficult task of refitting your schools classical music program with instruments, it can seem overwhelming.
However when you have a network of hundreds of concerned people it looks more like this.
An email/phone call/mailer goes to your network about the problem.