Arts Education Is Key to Our Cultural Heritage 

Washington didn’t become the sizzling arts capital it is today without our local artists shaping and enriching our cultural landscape. And perhaps there’s no better way to preserve our arts heritage than through arts education. Without it, audiences of the future will lack the capacity to critique, understand, and fully appreciate what they’re seeing or hearing, nor for artists or musicians to have every opportunity to gain creative inspiration to aspire to a career in the arts.   

As the new executive director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Aaron Myers, told us last month, he would “much rather a young person pick up an instrument than a gun,” or push back through their artistic expression rather than resort to drugs or violence.  

He’s not wrong. We believe the community should encourage our leaders to fully-fund arts programs in all schools.  

When budget considerations come around, the arts are often first on the chopping block. It’s important to remember, however, that whether students are practicing lines for their spring musical, or writing and illustrating their first picture book, or learning the ins-and-outs of painting, sculpture, filmmaking — you name it – these engaged activities nourish their creative minds, helping to develop their fine motor skills and emotional intelligence. Even if students don’t want to pursue art careers, the field can still be a crucial contributor to lifelong learning and overall academic and career success.   

Finally, in this world of intense competition in schools, pandemics, social media, mass shootings and unrest, the arts can provide a safe haven and a stress reliever. Many students see their arts classes as a time they can enjoy and express themselves, rather than fuel anxiety about all of life’s stressors. 

There’s nothing like playing an instrument, selling your first painting, taking an A+ photograph, or singing your first song in front of a sold-out theater. Why not allow the next generation the opportunity to pursue or enjoy all the arts has to offer?  

And the benefits will redound to our rich cultural heritage.  




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