Northwest Missourian Opinion

We’ve all heard the classic story of the arts department at a school being a second thought compared to the athletics department. While this isn’t true at every school, it’s definitely a problem in the minds of students across the country, including Northwest. There’s been a stigma suggesting that the arts are less important than athletics, yet this could not be farther from the truth. The arts have equally as many benefits as athletics do.

I’ve been a member of various arts programs for as long as I can remember. From elementary school choir to middle school band to being an art minor at Northwest while playing the trombone in the Bearcat Marching Band, I’ve dabbled in my fair share of artistic organizations. As a member of these organizations, I’ve noticed that we’ve all had to fight to prove our legitimacy to the respective leadership. Whether that’s proving what we bring to the table or how we support ourselves financially, there’s always a hint of doubt surrounding whether or not we’re worth supporting.

I’ve heard numerous opinions on this topic, but none of them ring true to me. For example, teachers have said the arts don’t provide the physical activity that makes sports so valuable to students’ lives. Yet, I’ve burned my fair share of calories in marching band. We spend hours moving around with heavy instruments in the sun, oftentimes six days a week. That’s enough physical activity to make anyone break a sweat. Dance teams are members of the arts as well, and they spend hours honing their craft. The argument that the arts aren’t physical isn’t true.

I’ve also heard people say that there’s no camaraderie like a sports team — that nothing could compare to the team building that happens between players on the field. However, aren’t theater members a team? Their field might be the stage, but the same bonding opportunities are present between key members. Rather than playing for a packed stadium, they perform for a full house in their performing arts centers. The same argument could be made for any type of band, dance team and innumerable other groups in the arts.

The arts also teach amazing skills. Dancers develop unmatched motor skills; musicians develop incredible auditory-visual processing; artists can exhibit impressive hand-eye coordination. These skills are all beneficial in their own way to the lives of students who learn them.

But, can art departments even generate money? The short answer is: duh. My marching band in high school would march parades for steep checks. Northwest’s ceramics department conducts an art sale every year that supports its department and artists. Theater departments sell tickets. These examples all prove that athletics aren’t the only passion or extracurricular activity that’s profitable.

Now, I have to acknowledge that athletics are still important. Sports are one of the many things that make the heart beat at high schools and universities. However, it’s crucial to recognize that the arts deserve an equal amount of recognition and support for all that they can offer to students’ lives. Thankfully, Northwest is recognizing these benefits by giving the Fine Arts building an upgrade for the first time since it was built in the 1960’s. The next step is getting the student body to appreciate all of the benefits that art brings to the world. Once the arts are widely considered parallel to athletics, the spotlight can fairly shine on all groups, which will brighten the lives of students in future generations.

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