Due to budget cuts, many schools throughout the nation are electing to eliminate arts programs to save money. As a result many children who may not have access to after-school private lessons miss the opportunity to develop the critical skills taught through exposure to the arts. On Tuesday night, Feb. 19, the students of Morgan Middle School and their families were brought together in a Celebration of the Arts focusing on the talents and skills they have been developing. The students and faculty of MMS showcased their passion for keeping the arts alive here in Morgan, and invited those in attendance, including Superintendent Ken Adams, to celebrate with them.
The evening ceremonies contained everything from an improvisational theatre demonstration from Mrs. Wilder’s drama class to the MMS Choir singing along to the song “Don’t Stop Believin’” accompanied by the students of the MMS Advanced Band. Randy Peay, a Morgan High graduate, shared his love of art and showcased many of his pieces. Having been in love with art his entire life, he stated that even though working on a piece is a lot of hard work, to him “every painting is an adventure.”
Cathy Jensen, the fine arts curriculum specialist for the Utah State of Education, was the keynote speaker. Sharing how one of the first public buildings built in Salt Lake City was a playhouse, she told of the importance of fine arts throughout the years. She told of how a study of fine arts helps students develop creativity, innovation, ingenuity and social skills while enhancing their cognitive abilities. She stated, “It is through the study of arts that our children will be prepared for an uncertain 21st century future. It will arm them with tolerance, problem solving skills and teach them to cooperate.” She went on to say that it helps them to learn that sometimes they need to “surrender to unanticipated things and the results that follow.”
The study of fine arts is for everyone. Many think of it as a fun hobby or something for those focusing on attaining degrees in art. Jensen shared that it helps in all callings in life. Telling of different studies done on the effects of fine art in the schools, she stated that it has been proven that schools that focus on the arts have higher attendance and graduation rates than those with less emphasis on the arts. To emphasize her point that the arts can benefit everyone, Jensen gave an example of a study showing that doctors who frequent art museums actually have higher rates of correct diagnoses than those who are not exposed to the arts.
She challenged those in the audience, young and old alike, to think of what the arts mean in their lives and to re-evaluate their role.