I Don’t Want To Go to the Circus

Non-profit arts centers, museums and such are constantly having to answer such questions. To survive, we have to have develop mission statements, complete grant proposals and conduct organizational assessments to justify our existence.  I’ve never calculated how many hours are used up “wordsmithing” to granters but its significant. I can only imagine how terrific it would be to use these hours to work with artists to develop exciting programs, teach children art and to share exhibits with the community.

The Circus, 1891, Georges Seurat (1859–1891)

Why comment on this? I guess I’m tired of having to to justify the value of what we do. Sadly, its just not enough to say the kids LOVE it.  How do we know? Proof…The Circus is in Jamestown. It conflicts with our Arts After School program.  Many kids will attend and miss art class. But yesterday, I listened to children telling their parents that they would rather come to The Arts Center than go to the Circus. Wow, score a point for the ARTS! Remember, kids that do art are better prepared to succeed. In today’s world we need individuals who can innovate and think broadly – arts training provides these skills.

You would be amazed at how much is happening in North Dakota to enhance learning with the Arts. Last week an Arts Education Summit was held in Jamestown.  Unbeknownst to the general public, the most significant arts administrators, curators and arts educators in the state gathered at the Buffalo Grill.  We learned of many significant projects, the North Dakota Museum of Arts Rural Arts Institute, The Plains Art Museum’s Center for Creativity, The North Dakota Council on the Arts SALT program, Bismarck State College’s plans for a new Arts Building and much more.  Some projects are new and some are expanding but all are competing for the same funds. The Arts Center has been a participant, a recipient and a leader in some of these programs. Our community, our schools and our youth have benefited from many of these programs. The gathering’s purpose was to share information and begin to shape a statewide plan for arts education.

We also learned of something called STEAM and I quote from the Council on the Arts Rebecca Engelman, Arts in Education Director’s description.

STEM, the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as a vision for education in ND. This new and innovative form of instruction is quickly gaining interest in education and economic circles as a way to meet the needs and requirements of our future workforce. But before we jump on the bandwagon, let’s make sure we do all our homework and consider the latest research and information on STEM. Experts in the fields of technology, design, education, and engineering suggest that adding the letter A for the arts creates an even more powerful combination for learning. In fact, STEAM has just been approved by the Korean Ministry of Education as an integral part of a creative, K-12 initiative for teaching science and math across the nation. With a little more imagination and risk, we have an opportunity to be on the front, rather than the end, of an educational model that benefits all the students of North Dakota.

If you feel the arts are important and necessary PLEASE tell your schools officials, your city, state and national politicians to continue to support and grow the ARTS.

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