The Power and Passion is Apparent
“Hi, I’m hoping you can help. My daughter has special needs and the only thing that gets her to pay any attention in school is her performing arts subject. Drama, dance and music make her come alive and help her understand people. I just found out the arts programs in her school are being cut. They just CAN’T cut the arts. How can I get the arts reinstated in her school and ensure they are a big part of the curriculum in the schools she will attend in the future?”
This was the frazzled phone call I received last Thursday. This mother, clearly concerned about her child’s well being and education, was desperate; she is hungry for arts education for her daughter and was not stopping until she found it. I directed her to some well-connected folks in her region who may be able to help her situation, but it made me wonder: what about the others, the parents who didn’t call?
Parents, in my opinion, are the most under-utilized and under-resourced population in our field. They have a lot of power, passion and, in some cases, pennies, but very little direction or focus to make their opinions matter.
Parents are everywhere; they have a cause to fight for – their young. Parents see first hand what arts education is doing to their child. Taking arts education away from a child who is thriving is like taking a meal from a baby cub – don’t mess with Mama Bear! If we, as arts education stakeholders, were able to harness the power and passion of a parent and focus it toward a common mission (aka our goal in furthering arts education in this country) imagine where we could be.
Like the parent that called me last Thursday, parents are willing to do anything to help their child in need of arts education. But very often they do not know where to turn or who can help them. If parents knew where to look, there are, actually, many resources out there to help them:
- Americans for the Arts
- Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge and its Advocacy Toolkit
- The Center for Arts Education of NY
- Keep Arts In Schools.org
- Arts Education Partnership (AEP)
- The National Association for Music Education (NAfME formerly MENC)
- Educational Theatre Association’s Dramatic Difference
AATE’s Theatre In Our Schools Facebook Cause has nearly 22,000 supporters; most of them are parents looking for help or a community of people going through the same struggles. Though these and other resources are valuable for those parents who know where to find them, there is no venue or community for arts-hungry parents to mobilize and collectively voice a unified statement to make change. Is there?