Funding Cuts Crippling Creative Arts Programs

arts-cutsWorried about funding cuts for the creative arts? You're not alone. It's a worldwide threat.

Public museum funding has been cut tremendously over the years. Entire school districts have cancelled ars programs and moved them into optional after-school activities where they are no longer an integral component of holistic learning. Some US House Representatives, will be introducing a bill to eliminate almost 8 billion dollars of funding for arts projects over the next few years. Even though this is an infinitesimal percentage of the country's budget, it provides cultural treasures to communities nationwide. Even schools that still maintain limited art programs are refusing to provide state-of-the-art digital imaging and multi-media software in favor of free alternatives that pale in comparison and dissuade rather than persuade students to explore their creative sides. I'm not very encouraged by these trends.

Major brain researchers insist that seeminlgy dissimilar scientists and artists think more alike than other more common pairings. Both groups have ingrained drives to consider the past but don't delve in it. They study known relationships then they navigate through them and far beyond to chart unique and innovative waters in search for unexpected discovery rather than follow any preconceived constraints or pseudo external inspiration. No wonder so many institutions in various fields are looking for Masters in Fine Art grads rather than more MBA grads due to their ingenuity, original thought, their ability to question everything and enhanced cognitive processing. Out of the box thinking is the new normal in the workplace but education has NOT kept pace. We cannot accept a return to Victorian rote learning models that deemphasize the arts in favor of studying monotonous data for standardized tests.

 Support (from Adventus site):

"Over two decades ago researchers in the US began studying the link between learning ‘to read music and play the piano’, and ability in Math and Science. This led to a ten year UCLA study comparing results for young students taking music versus students taking computer classes. Students learning to read music and play the piano scored significantly higher on Math and Science assessments.

Researchers then went on to prove that learning to read music and play the piano has other cognitive benefits. Hong Kong University of China discovered that not only does the regimen of learning to read and play music increase the rate of learning new vocabulary, but it results in a permanent increase in the learning rate. If the music learning process stops, the increased capacity is retained. If the challenging music program starts again, the rate of learning increases further.

This makes sense. Consider that reading music requires the student to look at music notation (an abstract symbol set) and decode it. Playing music requires that decoded information to be used to guide ten fingers on the piano keyboard. The brain is operating challenging receptive and productive processes simultaneously, which is good exercise for the cerebral cortex, and it soon causes permanent changes in this important area of the brain.

One recent MIT study determined that the cerebral cortex of a concert pianist is enlarged by 30% on average compared to people that are considered intellectuals, but who did not have instrumental music education. Another CA study found that 75% of Silicon Valley CEO’s had instrumental music education as a child.

There are several less-tangible, but important advantages to learning to read music and play an instrument. In one Chicago High School the dropout rate improved dramatically, two short years after a challenging music program was introduced to all students."

Do you want your children to grow up to be great scientists, architects or engineers? Don't listen to that close-minded person that thinks scholarship begins and ends with Math and Language scores, and by all means throw out most of those IQ evaluations or standardized tests that measure only specific types of intelligence and learning. Insist that your children are offered plenty of arts classes to help develop obligatory creative thinking and enhance their cognitive capacity. "Special subjects" my arse, creativity is a cornerstone of higher order thinking. (Just ask any Math teacher what Math looks like in university. Not educational Math . . .REAL Math!) Cutting funding for the arts in education is akin to letting students use only half their brains. Yes, you'll be sacrificing the part that reasons, deduces, innovates and actually achieves something unique from the baskets of names, dates and numbers. The benefits of arts studies are not just making pretty pictures or playing a recorder. Many governments and traditional education administrators don't seem to value the fundamental necessity of creative thinking and cognitive expansion in the process of ALL learning.

Many scholars now believe that the world wouldn't be wallowing in the current financial morass if our leaders had been taught to think more like artists and scientists rather than economists, accountants or lawyers. Cutting arts funding, especially in education, is not the way to make countries more competitive in the future.


Watch Charlie Rose's series on the Brain if you still have doubts after the jump.


Clink on image to view Charlie's discussion with Eric Kandel, leading brain specialists and artists
Richar Serra and Chuck Close. Link will transport you to the site for viewing.  
Should we even bother trying to explain it any further? I say YES!
Below are a few links gathered from the Internet.

Keep Art in Schools 

Savage UK Cuts 

Cultural War  

The Arts are not Worthy?

Public Education's Dying Arts

Art Funding Watch

Preserve Funding for Educational Arts

Deep cuts in Philly Too

Artists Unite to Fight Cuts

80% Cut in Louisiana

UK Government 30% Arts Cuts Leaked

BBC - UK Arts Council Slashed

Fine Arts in Survival Mode