“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.”
“The arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, languages and maths all have equal and central contributions to make to a student’s education.”
I recently wrote about a former student who has continued to pursue his love for theater by directing Tommy as part of his Senior Project, and now Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida while a sophomore at Fordham University.
I was privileged to be a member of the audience, witnessing the launch of the much anticipated non-profit organization, Cleveland Musical Theatre (CMT).
To say the performance was incredible is an understatement. The talent that emanated from the stage more than made up for the lack of costumes, props, and scenery in this workshop production. Each and every participant, many from the area, put forth a tremendous effort to recreate this much-loved adaptation of Verdi’s original story.
I begin to think about the opportunities these adults most likely had when they were students in school- exposure to music and art, opportunities to perform in school plays and community theater, and support from guidance counselors to pursue the arts as an viable educational option in their college years.
Ohio’s recent elimination of the mandated 5 of 8 rule has all but removed this option for many of our public school children. Hardest hit, as one might expect, will be our students from impoverished areas- some of whom will most likely not have an opportunity to seek these experiences independently.
The 5 of 8 rule, in existence in Ohio since the mid 1980s, required school districts to provide at least five of eight of the following school positions for every 1,000 students: music, art, physical education teachers; counselors, librarians, nurses, social workers, and visiting teachers.
This support will be gone for many of our public school children, despite the objections of many in Ohio.
I am curious about the opportunities and influences these talented actors and musicians that performed so brilliantly in this production may have had in their schools. Many are from the Cleveland area. Will we continue to be able to provide these kinds of experiences to our young children in our schools, and instill a passion for the arts to build upon in later years?
What do we know about a strong arts program in school?
The list goes on….
So, again I ask, why would we eliminate a mandate that does nothing but enhance a child’s education?
I am fortunate that my own child had these experiences while in public schools- opportunities to join band, orchestra, and choir; art lessons beginning in kindergarten, community theater programs throughout elementary school, two periods of physical education every week, guidance counselors and nurses to contact as needed beginning in kindergarten. These experiences have given her the courage to pursue a career in the arts in her college years.
The hope of CMT is to showcase high-quality musical theater talent in the Cleveland area, with local talent joining forces with Broadway talent. The performance of Aida officially launched the presence of CMT in the Northeast Ohio.
Students who are exposed to the arts… who are given opportunities to immerse themselves in something they are passionate about…can make a difference.
So congratulations Miles Sternfeld, Creative Director, and Musical Director, Sean Patrick, for a stellar workshop production of Aida. Your experiences are helping to make a difference in Northeast Ohio.
-posted by Beth Wilson-Fish 7/27/15