Election Day: Vote for Arts, Schools

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Your Vote CountsIf you’re concerned about the future of arts funding across the country – and there’s good reason for concern* – be sure to exercise your democratic power today. Vote for officials who share your views and offer visionary solutions that will nurture our nation’s rich cultural heritage. [*When adjusted for inflation, public funding for the arts has decreased more than 30 percent the past 21 years.]

And while it’s easy to get excited about sparkling new performing arts centers, theaters or civic centers, don’t forget about also supporting your local K-12 schools where tomorrow’s artists and audiences are being educated. [School funding statistics show that 48 states now provide less school funding than before the recession, when adjusted for inflation.]

Creating the Culture. For long-term success, the performing arts and arts education should go hand-in-hand. We look to San Antonio, Texas, as a prime illustration of how creating a culture that values the arts begins at the local, school level.

We recently profiled this city’s new Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in September in San Antonio to much fanfare and celebration. Its construction was made possible, in part, by voters approving $100 million in construction bonds in 2008.

Overwhelming Approval. We were reminded of a dedication ceremony we attended in this city back in 2005: the opening of the new Center for Music Education at Brackenridge High School. Two years earlier, voters in the San Antonio School district had overwhelmingly approved a $128 million bond.

With this funding, the district’s eight high schools each received new music education facilities with dedicated space for band, mariachi, choir and orchestra: large and small rehearsal halls, modular practice rooms, teaching studios, MIDI lab, music library and storage areas.

Connecting the Dots. Did the eight new music education facilities cause the Tobin Center to be built? No…but it’s not difficult to connect the dots and realize the Tobin Center benefited from the same generous, visionary spirit that this community has nurtured through its school arts programs.

To raise citizens who value the arts, we need schools teaching the arts. Without such exposure, children will grow up culturally malnourished, lacking appreciation for the important role the arts play in elevating and enlightening the human spirit. When you visit the voting booth today, support the arts and your schools!

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