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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: tenth anniversary issue

[Unfulfilled opportunities in the arts: a symposium],   pp. [7]-24 PDF (17.0 MB)

Page 17

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
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
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.

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