Local & State Voices

I’m a student. Don’t I deserve the arts?

I read with concern the July 11 letter to the editor, “Arts are nothing more than a hobby.” Respectfully, I disagree. Arts and culture, unlike our own personal means of enjoyment, enrich our community.

It has been proven again and again that exposure to the arts can create better students, not to mention better people.

There is proof of this in a national study conducted by The Brookings Institution and the Houston Education Research Consortium. The study found that “students who received more arts education experiences are more interested in how other people feel and more likely to want to help people who are treated badly.”

Isn’t that how we want the next generation to be? Apparently, a majority of Americans think so.

Some 88% of Americans agreed that the arts are an important part of a well-rounded education for K-12 students, according to a survey by Americans for the Arts.

Some believe that only ticket sales are needed to support arts organizations. This is far from enough money. If arts groups relied only on ticket fees, then prices would be raised and only the rich could afford to go to a museum, listen to a concert or watch a musical. Is that at all fair? Should the rich be the only ones to experience culture?

I went to a Title 1 school for three years. The only way the children at my school could experience the arts was through an occasional field trip. These trips were only possible because of public funding for arts organizations.

I remember the thrill I felt watching actors dressed as monkeys descend from the ceiling during a performance of Tarzan at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. The actors told a beautiful story in a way totally new to me, through theater. Watching that show showed me the courage of people in our community – courage to go on a stage, pretend to be someone else and not care if you messed up in the process.

When I was older, I got to attend the Charlotte Symphony. The sound of all the musicians warming up was probably my favorite part. I had never seen so many people come together to play music before.

If we spend our money only on our own enjoyment rather than the common good, the next generation will be without the arts. Many kids won’t be able to experience a play or a symphony. They won’t know what it is like to walk into a museum and see their history class come to life through exhibits.

I think a minor tax increase is more than worth it, if it enriches the common good. Don’t you?

Grace Paddock is a rising 8th grader in Charlotte