The Arts are Underfunded and Underappreciated 

Aiden Lutjen, staff writer

Growing up in my hometown, it had — or rather, still has — a major sports bias, especially favoring our high school’s football team. Despite our team being one of the worst in our area, they received an unbelievable amount of funding compared to other activities. This is only made more outrageous and utterly ridiculous when you take a look at our bands and robotics team — both highly decorated — receiving basically the bare minimum. This has real impacts. For example, our band is still reusing old uniforms from a decade ago, while the football team gets new uniforms almost yearly. And don’t even get me started on how our art classes, programs and amount of supplies were shrinking practically every year. So much for valuing the arts.

Full disclosure: what I’m saying in this article is absolutely not that sports are inferior. Sports have many benefits for any individual, and no one can deny that. Sports provide physical stimulation, develop teamwork, teach the importance of grit and overall just bring people together over a shared passion. It’s good to be passionate about something! So please, by all means, support your favorite teams, teach your kids the basics of different sports and decorate your car with stickers! However — you can still be a passionate fan of your favorite team while criticizing the massive bias we harbor towards sports and against other activities, especially the arts.

Quite a few sources from an easy online search back up that this issue is much bigger than just my hometown. One article discussed the difference in public support for government-funded art in the United States versus Europe. Generally speaking, the U.S. values money and the economy over all else, including the positive view of art shared by European countries, and defunds our art, because it isn’t a profit-making machine. This gap in funding is seen all over the U.S., but the gap also extends to attitudes and opinions — at least when it comes to the older majority of the population, hence why this isn’t a good thing. The starving artist stereotype is just one of countless ways people discourage and discount any aspiring individual in the performing or visual arts. Not to mention some parents’ attitudes towards the arts and whether or not their child can be successful in such a career path.

Art is important to any community, no matter the size. From a childcare and educational standpoint, art helps children develop the physical and emotional skills important for development, not least being creativity. Arts aren’t just important in and of themselves, either: Visual arts teach color and layout that can help in PowerPoints and advertising, while music teaches patterns and reasoning. This doesn’t even cover the historical, cultural and personal value art and music have to society, seen as a worldwide phenomenon. There’s also an increasing demand for career artists in the digital age, such as video game development, sound design and more.

It just saddens and angers me as to how abused and spit on the arts are when something honestly not that different in abstract concept is worshiped like a deity. The arts are getting more and more important to our everyday life with every passing moment, and yet here we are discouraging, shaming and outright denying children and aspiring creatives any chance to pursue their passion. Whatever happened to supporting children’s education and dreams? Are we really going to be placing little asterisks at the end of “Chase Your Dreams” posters that then say “as long as the people around you consider them desirable and achievable” as a footnote at the bottom?