Here at The Right Brain Initiative, we firmly believe in the power of the arts to transform our region and the lives of individuals, and we work every day to provide arts-integrated education for students in the Portland metro area. As we move forward with the long-range arts education planning process we’re engaged in through the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child initiative, we have been gathering information through community and school surveys and interviews (click here to read a blog entry about Right Brain’s involvement with Any Given Child). While sifting through this data in preparation for unveiling the long-range plan this fall, we happened upon a gem of a letter from Hope Hagar tucked inside one of the surveys. Hope is a sophomore at Marshall High School (SE Portland), and she wrote to us about the importance of the arts in her life. We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves, so we want to share her letter with you. As the old adage goes, “Out of the mouths of babes…” Enjoy Hope’s letter below:
My name is Hope Hagar, and I am 15 years old and a sophomore at John Marshall High School. Throughout my life, I have moved almost every year and have attended most school districts in the SE Portland area. Although I have moved a lot as a child and through my teen years, one thing that has always been there for me through all of the new houses, the new friends and the new schools is art. Art is a HUGE part of my life. Through my art, my voice is heard, I am seen and I am free to be me. Art is such a large part of my life that I live art, I wear art, I breathe, eat and sleep art. I believe art shuld be offered to every child, no matter where they are, their social class or how much it costs. Art does many things. It builds confidence and friendships, it builds your creativity, increases interest in school, increases test scores and increases understanding of a multi-cultural society. Art speaks for those who have been silenced.
Why not? Why not have art offered during the school day? Some arguments might be, “There isn’t enough funding,” “There aren’t enough licensed teachers to teach art,” or, “There isn’t enough time during the day to add an art class.” These may all be true, but there are ways around these excuses. No money? Do a fundraiser. No teachers? There are many willing and qualified artists to come share the magic of art. No time? Offer the classes after school. We need to break through the barriers stopping us from offering art classes. We need to get around them. When there is a will, there is a way.