RACELAND, Ky. — Teachers, parents, administrators, artists and arts advocates gathered at John P. Stephens Cultural Art Center on Feb. 11, for a public discussion of the proposed Senate Bill 1-2016 on the Quality of Arts Education in Kentucky.
President Elect of the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) Terry Thompson, said SB-1 would be a step backwards for public schools in Kentucky.
“I spent 30 years as a high school band director, and one of the issues that we are dealing with right now in Kentucky, as a matter of fact, today is coming to the Senate floor in Kentucky is another educational reform bill,” Thompson said. “This particular bill deals with testing and taking the common core business out of the schools, and just completely redoing the way that we teach.”
Thompson KMEA has, along with other arts-related organizations in Kentucky been reaching out to Legislators expressing their concern about SB1.
“The Kentucky Music Educators Association is knee-deep right now in trying to contact the Legislators in the Senate and not just the Music Educators, but the Arts Council are reaching out to the Legislators to try and get them to understand that we feel like this bill is not a good bill for the children of Kentucky. There will be no accountability in the school systems for arts testing, or even offering arts courses. and so we think that this is a step backwards for the public schools in Kentucky,” Thompson said.
According to released information from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis on Tuesday, arts and cultural production contributed $704.2 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013, a 32.5 percent increase since 1998. Thompson said the data released by the NEA is another confirmation of the importance and vitality of arts in public school education.
Director of the John P. Stephens Cultural Art Center Anne Stephens, said live performances in the arts are good for all communities.
“Performing artists have come to understand that live performances have become the most important part of their livelihood over the past 10 years. Before the explosion of online music sharing, recorded music sales were the basis of income for musicians,” Stephens said. “This shift has been difficult, but also exciting! Live performance is valued at all levels and can be accessed by everyone. Interaction between artists and audiences is happening in small venues as well as large arenas. This is good for all communities. I encourage everyone to experience live music and support their local artists! They will not only be supporting the arts, but their entire community.”
Exposure to the arts is critical for the human spirit to be able to express, said Thompson.
“The human spirit in my opinion, needs the exposure to the arts, musicians need to perform, dancers need to dance, actors need to act, artists need to draw and paint,” Thompson said. “It seems to me that it is a small price to pay, for a society to have the opportunity to express themselves, to bare their soul to their fellow man.”