“There are [schools] in this state that as of next year will no longer have a music department. That’s what they cut.”
Assemblyman Fred Scalera of Essex County expressed his dismay at last week’s Essex Legislators Breakfast along with fellow legislators who came out to show their support for arts education. Due to budget constraints, arts education is once again on the chopping block in many districts, and Assemblyman Scalera isn’t the only one worried about the impact cutting programs will have. Five current and former students from arts education programs throughout the county spoke about the impact the programs had on their lives.
-A law school-bound student who spent years learning and working at Newark Museum spoke about having what she called “the Newark Museum advantage.” She attributed much of her success to becoming a global citizen through an exposure to art.
-A student who had previously been kicked out of school and grew up around violence gave a moving testimonial about how his work in glass blowing with GlassRoots has changed his life. He proudly shared, “My first month there I blew a plate,” and added, “I feel as if art has changed my life.”
-An arts educator and former student of NJPAC’s Summer Youth Performance Workshop identified with the pride students feel as artists because, as she explained, they can say “I am good at this.”
The key to seeing that programs like these survive and flourish is to share these stories with legislators, mayors, school board members, and anyone who will listen. As Assemblywoman Mila Jasey told us, “It’s important for legislators to have a sound and a picture, and to understand that you are real people, and see what you do.” Share your stories, New Jersey!
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