Amador County Arts Council Launches Advocacy Effort

 
Amador County is one of five local arts councils to join the Alliance’s Local Advocacy Network this fall. The program offers empowers local communities to keep arts programs in schools by providing the strategic assistance, leadership development and communication tools. The five local councils support from bring a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to this work. Each one hosts a breakfast event for community leaders to gather and unify local support for arts education. 
 
Jack Mitchell, Publisher of the Amador Ledger Dispatch was one of the hosts for launch event in Amador. His inspired remarks are included here. Thank you and welcome to all of our new allies! 

 
"I am supposed to discuss why arts in the schools are important and why I
support arts in the schools. And since, those of you that know me realize
that everything is always about me I thought I'd share a few personal
stories. 
 
When I was in high school, arts in the schools profoundly changed
my life. My high school, Mayo High School, in Rochester, Minnesota had a
very strong Arts program and a very strong English department. We studied
all sorts of writers: Dostoevsky, Sartre, Tolstoy, Nietsche, Plath, Homer,
Steinbeck, Chaucer and Dickens...and we held and visited many
performances.
 
Some that were easily acceptable to the public like the symphony or
Shakespeare and others that raised some eyebrows like the musical The Best
Little Whorehouse in Texas. We visited art museums and studied Art History
with one class venturing to Chicago to view firsthand, famous works of art
like Seurat and Hopper.
 
It was interesting to me that the last time I called home my father talked
about his weekend flipping pancakes at $10 a plate to save Arts in the
classrooms in Rochester. You see, my father is a man of science, a doctor
for the Mayo Clinic for 37 years, now retired. He was head of continuing
education for the Mayo Clinic, head of medical ventures and head of human
lab leading all studies on cancer, AIDS, Parkinsons and Alzheimers. So why
would a retired doctor, a man of science, with no kids in the school
system (that I know of), spend his weekend raising funds to keep arts alive in
the schools?
 
 Simple. He knows that youth that are exposed to the arts are more
educated, score higher and achieve at higher levels, develop a better
understanding of mankind and become better members of society. He
witnessed this in the development of his own four children. So much so, that cutting
arts in the schools to him, could be the biggest mistake we make. Serious
enough that he spends his time in retirement trying to raise whatever
funds he can, not for math and science, but for arts! He knows that
leads to greater success in other curriculum.
 
I ventured back to Rochester and presented my thoughts in front of the
school board to save arts in the schools in front of some of the very same
teachers that taught me many years ago. You see...like so many areas of
the country, they too, are facing cuts and trying to save programs. 
 
I did my presentation quoting some lines from Tennison's Ulysses.,’Come my friends tis not to late to seek a newer world. For my purpose holds to sail beyond
the sunset, beyond the stars that bathe the western skies. To strive, to
seek, to find and not to yield. When I finished my drama and speech
coach critiqued me saying I had come a long way on public speaking, made good
eye contact, but may have misquoted a time or two and could use some work. My
English teacher corrected a bit of the grammatical errors in my speech,
but overall said I did a fine job.
 
Arts in the schools should be important to all of us. I won't pretend to
understand budget constraints or the reasons why we can't achieve or do
today what we did in the past. I just know we need to fight and to try. I
am reminded of a quote from the movie Mr. Holland's Opus where the principal
says, "I care about these kids as much as you do. And if I am forced to
choose between Mozart and reading and writing and long division, I choose
division." And of course, Mr. Holland's response, "Well. I guess you can
cut the arts as much as you want. Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to
have anything to read or write about."
 
We have to come together to save arts in our schools.
 
I've taken enough of your time today, but will close with one more quote
from Mr. Holland's Opus that I have changed a bit. Make our kids our
symphony, make them the melodies and the notes of our opus. Make them the
music of our lives." 
 
(Jack Mitchell is pictured above right, recieving a Patron of the Arts Award from Amador Arts in 2012)