"Necessity is the Mother of Invention."

"Necessity is the Mother of Invention."

By Kaitlin Davis on July 13, 2010
Be my friend on MTIShowSpace!

Check out my profile at MTIShowSpace!

Times of financial crisis can be particularly rough on the arts. In the face of a severe budget deficit, many New Jersey school music programs have been cut altogether.  Arts organizations have had to eliminate much of their programming, and in some cases have been forced to end their work entirely.  So, what can be done?

First and foremost, advocating for these programs-- at school board meetings, town halls, and directly to your local legislators-- is unspeakably important. (Art Pride NJ provides a list of invaluable resources on their website for reaching out to your local government officials.) In many cases, it isn't abundantly clear just how valuable the arts are to our local communities, especially economically. Museums, theaters, concert halls, and the like provide jobs and increase revenue in very significant ways. It goes without saying that the arts are also essential to the well-rounded education of today's youth. Unquestionably, the arts merit attention and funding that they are often denied. In those cases, where do you turn?

When the frustrating and painful reality of a slashed budget is precisely that- the reality- what do you do? In some ways, the answer is simple. You take action. Should you find yourself in this unfortunate position, get creative! Challenge yourself. Allow your imagination to develop a course of action, and take the necessary steps to implement your plan. For example, perhaps there is a historical society in your community. Typically, this might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of the arts in education, but, as one of my favorite quotes so effectively tells us, "Necessity is the mother of invention." Perhaps you could work together to develop a historical performance or an art exhibit featuring student work side-by-side with photos and artifacts from the local community. When you start thinking like an innovator, you can seriously challenge the status quo. A dearth of music textbooks or formal lessons does not necessitate the end of the arts in education.

I know what you're thinking, "We still don't have any money to implement these projects." Trust me, as a recent member of a college theater group, I can assure you that much can be done with very little in the way of financial resources. Worn-out clothes became pillow cases, flea markets became treasure troves, and the internet is a tool that makes all the difference in the world (See: MTI ShowSpace, Etsy.com, Ebay, or Craigslist for ideas!). Think outside the box, and use your creative skills to make a difference. An art gallery may be willing to allow students to study their pieces and give presentations or tours to visitors; a music shop may be willing to trade lessons or instrument rentals for the savvy design skills of an up-and-coming local graphic designer; a local theater may provide discounted tickets or backstage tours to students interested in learning more about theater; an interior designer may offer their services to help students understand appropriate set and prop design. Undoubtedly, organizations and professionals like these are also feeling the pinch, and as a result may be willing to enter into new and somewhat unusual partnerships. Even more importantly, they can appreciate and respect the impact of their work on the development and education of our students. An experience like this might forever change the path they choose in life... and when you put it like that, who could ever bear to say no?

P.S. If you have any ideas or stories to share, visit my MTI ShowSpace profile!