Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: tenth anniversary issue
[Unfulfilled opportunities in the arts: a symposium], pp. -24 PDF (17.0 MB)
feasible to rebuild cities with a sense of style and beauty rivaling Athens itself. Arts organizations at all levels have the potential to improve the quality of city life and, as stated by George Fuermann of the Houston Arts Commission, ". . . to act for all the people in those matters which are coming more and more to cause the mind and spirit to flag but which the people are helpless to oppose as individuals." Concern, not money, is the essential ingredient if cities are to survive as one of mankind's achievements rather than as a monument to technological pollution. In short, the challenges facing the cities and the arts are inextricably entwined. The Planning Processes The significant population growth today is in suburbia, not the core city. This rapid expansion outside the corporate limits has left few arts organizations adequately prepared to serve an audience that, as a rule, is reluctant to journey downtown for a performance or exhibit. Evidence of suburban independence can be found in the growth of small suburban arts centers in storefronts or converted mansions producing a potpourri of arts classes, lectures, films, and recitals. The interrelation of exurbia, suburbia, and the core city, however, cannot be ignored. Any arts council or other arts organization undertaking comprehensive planning must include the metropolitan area as well as the core city in its surveys to assess available talents, physical facilities, and potential audiences and to determine needs in arts education and adult programming. The influx of public monies into the arts puts even more emphasis on planning. Over eighty Federal programs for the states in fields such as social welfare and urban renewal require the submission of a master plan before the state is eligible for a grant. This policy is likely to be extended into the arts fields in the future. Before any arts programs may be undertaken, however, a thorough cultural survey of the community must be made to determine the areas where new programs are needed. In its simplest form, this study may be done by the arts council director himself working closely with local arts institutions and helped by a modest budget for printing and consultants. If local conditions require a 17 study of more substance, a grant should be obtained from a local foundation, corporation, or individual. Arts in the Schools With a few outstanding exceptions, the quality of arts education in our elementary and secondary schools is deplorable. Although music is required in many elementary schools, visual-art instruction is minimal and drama and dance virtually nonexistent. In high school, the pressure of college entrance requirements legislates against the arts by failing to grant full credit for most art and music courses. This forces the arts into extracurricular periods, if any are available, and to the bottom of the priority list when school budgets are prepared. Furthermore, few of the teachers who give instruction in the arts are sufficiently qualified to communicate to young people either a thorough knowledge of the art or even an enthusiasm for its basic values. Elementary-grade teachers are usually graduates of state teachers' colleges where arts instruction suffers the same neglect it does in high schools. And so the cycle of indifference perpetuates itself. Local arts institutions are hardly more enterprising. During any given year the cultural fare they offer to school children is likely to be, at best, haphazard. If any presentations at all are made, a gallery tour one month, a symphony concert four months later, and a theater matinee once a year is the maximum to be expected. No correlation between these experiences is offered, and the classroom preparation for each depends almost entirely on the interests of the individual teacher, who often considers it an imposition. Community arts councils can utilize their power as a united public voice for the arts to improve this situation. For example, the Metropolitan Arts Council of Indianapolis, Indiana, has formed a committee to revise the arts curriculum in Indianapolis public schools by working closely with school authorities. In Phoenix, Arizona, the arts council published and distributed a folder showing how poorly Phoenix compared with the national average in the number of music teachers employed in its schools and the total instruction-time and budget allotments for music.