Glee-fully Supporting Arts Education (from Arts Watch)
Posted by May 19, 2010 1 comment
Although I am still shocked by the way that Glee has been accepted by mainstream America, it is comforting to know that creator Ryan Murphy's depiction of the struggles of outsiders trying to fit into traditional high school stereotypes has become a television and iTunes hit.
There has already been some media coverage of the sudden rise in interest in high school show choirs as a result of Mr. Schu's antics and now last night's episode hit home a bit harder than the Madonna episode, Kurt's coming out story, or the breakup of Rachel and Finn.
In a combination that can only be described as genius, cult TV/film writer/producer Joss Whedon directed last night's episode dealing with what so many music, art, dance, and theater programs across the nation are fighting—budget cuts.
After writing and directing a powerful musical episode of his Buffy the Vampire Slayer several years ago, and the innovative internet film Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Whedon has shown his flair for conveying emotions with conviction through song, and his Glee episode didn't disappoint.
While it was refreshing to see Mr. Schuster rattling off the reasons why arts education is important and singing about the importance of dreaming, it was unfortunate that the major argument about funding came back to the old standard of pitting physical education against the arts (see also the article about Broward County, FL, above).
The spiteful Sue Sylvester managed to counterpoint every one of Schu's arguments with the importance of physical education much the same way that advocates for both are often forced to do (there will be more on this in a blog post for our Arts Education Blog Salon next week).
So the next time that you see an arts program threatened by a rogue school board meanie like Neil Patrick Harris portrayed, I suggest making sure the other members see this episode—or better yet—bring your own Rachels, Quinns, and Pucks (well, maybe not Pucks) to sing their own stories about what the program has done for them.
As Glee shows us week-to-week, there's nothing more powerful than a message in a song.
I just had the opportunity to attend my first NC's Arts Day and meet our legislators to discuss the importance of arts education legislation they are considering as well as Arts Council funding. I left thinking, "Next year I want to bring our arts students along." It was a wonderful event, with hundreds of dedicated arts advocates, but you're absolutely right—policymakers need to hear directly from students, and it's a great teaching moment as well.