The Wave

Is MIA Fostering Young Artists?

Elizabeth Milakovich, Staff Writer

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Nationwide, when budget cuts take place in schools, art programs are often the first to go. In fact, according to U.S. News and World Report, funds have been cut in over 80 percent of school districts from 2008 to 2014 and the very first programs to go are most likely music, art, and foreign language. Public policies, such as Common Core State Standards, have accentuated core subjects and encouraged schools to focus attention and funding on those. These subjects will always be safe from budget cuts because of standardized testing. Schools are busy worrying about students passing statewide tests, instead of having a wide range of creative subjects to go along with core subjects.

What about our school? Are we in danger when the economy falls and budget cuts force out creativity? Does it even matter?

In an interview with Marco Island Academy Assistant Principal Amber Richardson, she talked about our school being more of a STEAM school rather than STEM, meaning our arts programs are included in our education. She says, “A large percentage of our student population is interested in the arts and want to pursue this in life.” When asked whether or not students show enough interest in expanding arts programs, Richardson said, “It has been that way since the start. Every year we’ve either added new classes or sections.”

Robert Eder, who teaches 2D Studio Art, Drawing, and as of this year Creative Photography, said something along those lines, stating, “I think there are a lot of students here at MIA who love to create art. Every term more and more students are even interested in art as a career.” He specifically talked about the new class added this year, Creative Photography, saying, “We are in the embryonic stage for Creative Photography. I’m hesitant to invest in a lot of equipment until I’ve had an opportunity to try the equipment. As with all technologically based courses, the advancements in technology make it difficult to keep up.”

Richardson informed that we have an Arts Department budget and a stipend that goes to teachers for classroom materials. With that money, digital cameras were purchased this year for Creative Photography. However, Creative Photography student Téa Lindsey disagrees. When she was asked what supplies were needed for Creative Photography she said, “Cameras…we don’t have proper cameras…We have Photoshop, but it’s a very old version so we can’t do what we could in teaching kids to use Photoshop in a professional way.” She also commented on how well Creative Photography is run by saying, “Mr. Eder is a very passionate art teacher…We’re lucky to have him. The art program would not be what it is without him.” Overall, it seems that we need to build upon the current resources while we find ways to obtain new ones. The cameras that the Creative Photography were allocated were the best MIA can do with its current budget.

In lines with how well our art programs can be expanded or at least kept, Richardson, Eder, and Lindsey all gave their perspectives on whether the school or students should be responsible for obtaining quality supplies. Richardson, who was asked whether the school should provide funds or if they should be obtained by fundraising, said, “Already we are having to make up a deficit with fundraising. There are certain donors that donate to our art programs. Considering the situation that we are already fundraising to operate school, we encourage different clubs and departments to take ownership and they can do that through fundraising or their own grant writing.” Eder agreed by saying, “There is a particular donor who earmarks their donations specifically for art. I try not to compete with the other fundraising needed at our school.” Lindsey said it should be the school’s responsibility to provide students with resources to “become more than a scholastic student.”

While opinions about MIA’s art programs contradict between student, staff, and administration’s views, one thing that was never mentioned is our art programs being done away with. Richardson was hopeful, saying, “Our school realizes and values the importance of the arts to our students and we all just have to work together creatively and collaboratively to make the most of the resources we have and to acquire additional resources.”

The most important thing here is that our school will continue to foster students’ creative needs along with educational ones. We as a school have enormous potential since we are still in the growing stages. As long as students continue to show interest in the arts, our administration seems to display the attitude that they will try their best to support them. Eder sums it up by saying, “It’s not about the funds, it’s about the spirit. I’m doing everything possible to give [the students] a thorough understanding of what is necessary to be successful artists as adults. It is my role as an art teacher to offer a safe platform for my students to grow and be the best versions of themselves individually.”

Lindsey agrees, stating, “If the students have a passion for the arts, there are no obstacles that will keep them from creating. Of course it would be nice to have a large budget solely dedicated to the art program, but that’s not feasible at the moment. It’s a growing process. There are many students, such as myself, that are willing to offer their time to fundraise and help further the arts program.”

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Is MIA Fostering Young Artists?