Why arts funding is important
Francesco Corso, Staff Writer
It seems every couple of years, discussions regarding making cuts to arts education in schools becomes a talking point. Some people claim that funds like the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) are an unnecessary waste of government money, despite being a mostly inconsequential amount of the budget. For example, the NEA costs about $148 million a year, out of a federal budget of about $3.8 trillion or, in total, roughly 3.89 × 10-5 percent of the total budget. On top of that, the federal deficit is roughly $1 trillion, of which arts education accounts for 0.0148 percent of the budget. Due to the insignificant amount that goes toward arts expenditures, it is foolish and potentially detrimental to our children to cut the funds.
There have been numerous studies that have demonstrated that the arts have a number of benefits to children. Studies show that those who are exposed to the performing arts often have higher proficiency in English, reading, and mathematics. It also often improves the social development of children as well. Furthermore, it has been shown that this plays an important role in helping children of low socioeconomic status stay in school, as low-income children in the arts have a dropout rate of 4 percent as compared those who are not involved, who have a dropout rate of 22 percent. Due to these benefits, it is very evident that making cuts to the arts would potentially lower student performance in a nation that is already falling behind of other developed nations, especially in Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Technology (STEM) fields.
Even without those benefits, children need something to feel passionate about. Life is too short to only focus on schooling and professional development. I would argue that my involvement in instrumental music and theatre is the single most important aspect of my academic career. I have met so many people through these activities and for that I am eternally grateful. Additionally, these settings provide a space where you can forget about your problems. With theatre specifically, you get to be someone else for a few hours. All the stress of your own life is gone in lieu of the feelings and experiences of someone completely different from yourself. From this, I personally have come to understand other people better than I would have otherwise.
On top of everything so far, the singular most important benefit of arts education is its role in inspiring the creators of tomorrow. It is completely impossible to imagine a world where art does not exist, as it would be so dull that life honestly wouldn’t be worth living. If you want to listen to good music or view fine art, you need to inspire kids from a young age. You cannot get an orchestra without grade school violin lessons. There will not be another Picasso if you don’t let children draw. We need to let children do theatre as children in order to have good quality movies. So, at the very least, if you are someone who enjoys any form of art, then you absolutely need to depend and support arts funding.