By Jim Speirs, Executive Director, Arts South Dakota
While the educational experience has changed in South Dakota—with virtual learning, staggered schedules and a variety of measures to cope with the pandemic—every community understands how vital it is to keep kids learning. The arts have played a vital role for all of us throughout 2020, and the need to continue providing arts education has never been greater.
Whether local schools are using distance learning or adjusted in-school formats, arts education continues to be an essential element of a well-rounded education. New methods of teaching art may be necessary, especially for performing arts, but school leadership must support the fine arts during this time of transition. Cutting back or shuttering arts programs this year due to coronavirus is not in the best interests of our students.
The arts enhance the development of learners of all ages and support their emotion and social well-being. Through the arts, students develop skills in creative thinking, collaboration and team building, self-management, critical thinking and effective communication, all while building personal self-confidence. The arts provide an inclusive and welcoming school environment, and are foundational in building a sense of community among students. The arts also provide pathways for the whole community to interact with students.
Nearly all Americans (91%) agree that the arts are essential to a complete education, according to an Americans for the Arts survey. Today, perhaps more than ever, we need the healing power of the arts present in our schools’ curricula—and arts programming, once deferred, may be more difficult to reinstate next year.
seen and heard the power of the arts to lift us up during the past months of pandemic response in spontaneous and online art exhibits, shared musical moments from porches and in parks and every other imaginable expression of art. As states and schools work through multiple challenges in the months ahead, arts education must remain central to a well-rounded education and fully funded to support the well being of all students and the entire school community.
Please take time to be sure your local school district is making plans to fully deliver arts education, even while dealing with COVID-19. Maintaining arts education for our children is achievable—and essential to our post-pandemic future. Be an advocate for the arts in your community. Learn more at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.