Celebrate Youth Art Month

By Kristina Higbee, GFWC Arts Community Service Program Chairman

Youth Art Month promotes art and art education in the United States. It is observed in March, with thousands of American schools participating, often with the involvement of local art museums and organizations such as GFWC.

The arts in various forms— music, theater, dance, and visual art—represent some of the most fundamental activities in the history of human civilization. Cave art, religious ceremonies, ritual dances, and making music have been with us since before recorded history. These activities provide people of all ages a chance to use the imagination and develop creative skills. Participation in the arts can also promote creative problem solving, a crucial skill for today’s complex and ever-changing world.

Steve Jobs once said “technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

Critical thinking skills crucial for higher-level analysis expected of students at the high school and college level can also be associated with participation in the arts. Putting together all the elements of a dance production, a music concert, or a play requires a similar process to solving the problems adults encounter in the workplace. This collaborative effort also promotes teamwork, a desired skill in today’s fast-paced careers.

Close your eyes for a moment. Now imagine a life without the arts. We would have no authors, so there would be no morning magazine or paper to read with our coffee. Music would not exist, so there would be no singing in the shower or in the car on the way to work.  There would be no hymns at church. Inspiration for architectural design would be purely based on function without attention to form. There would be no museums; no dance; and the field of theater would not exist. Our lives would be uniform without expression. I don’t know about you, but this is not a world that I would choose to live in.

Studies consistently show that students who study art are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and three times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.  Yet each year arts are consistently cut from school budgets across the country.

If we acknowledge the value of experiences in the arts, what can we do to promote the arts in our schools? At the most basic level, we can support events already in place. If there is a band concert, drama performance, or art show at your local school, go there! Those who argue that the arts are not important in today’s world to today’s students and parents will often use lack of support as evidence. Show your community that people do, in fact, attend and appreciate these endeavors. Hold a fundraiser to purchase a large piece of equipment for your schools art, music, or drama department. A potter’s wheel, kiln, or microphones are a few items that come to mind. Sponsor Youth Art Month activities at your local schools.  For more ideas please refer to the GFWC Club Manual.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make even more art.” —Andy Warhol