I consider myself a creative person. I love anything to do with the arts; drawing, painting, photography, writing, the theater and music. I honestly cannot think of anything I don’t like about the arts! I am not talented in music or theater, but I do appreciate it. Participating in various artistic and creative forms gets my mind working in different ways and it also serves as a great escape!
I can take a walk and find something that catches my eye and I’ll stop and take a picture. And not just any picture. I make sure I like the composition, I place my focus where I want and adjust the settings as necessary until I get the photo. When I draw or paint, it reminds me of childhood. I also enjoy the challenge of learning new techniques. And of course writing is something I enjoy as well. It enables me to share what’s on my mind while being creative.
Statistics have shown how important it is to involve children in the arts. Some well known benefits are problem solving, a gain in confidence, collaboration/teamwork and improvement in focus. There are other advantages that may not be as obvious, but may actually be even more important than mentioned above.
I believe our school system does try to incorporate that part of education just as well as other academic classes. It’s part of the Core Curriculum. Yet, there seems to be a lack of support when it comes to certain aspects of the arts. Even within the state, there are big disparities among school districts. We certainly can improve.
Many parents who want to get their children more involved in the arts usually have to go outside the school system because there just isn’t enough. There are many statistics out there showing how parents support the arts in education. One blog I found, americansforthearts.org conducted a survey in 2015 and found that at least 88% of parents believe the arts to be an important part of a well rounded education. Overall, a majority of parents (some as high as 93%) that have been surveyed in studies state they would like to see more arts in education. Another survey done around 2019 broke down the statistics even further.
Music seems to be on the decline, especially in my area. Parents aren’t sending their kids for lessons as much as they did in the past. The focus seems to be on sports or other activities. High School bands are smaller and the amount of school bands competing has also diminished. In my city, we are currently recruiting students from 6th grade and up to participate in the Color Guard for high school. It makes me sad to see that there aren’t enough kids participating.
I have a friend who has a music lesson business that is not flourishing as it was about a decade ago. He has told me that the music culture has changed and kids just find different ways of enjoying it. They don’t necessarily take lessons to play an instrument. Technology and social media apps like Tik Tok have changed how kids consume music. So, he is reinventing how he conducts his business with the hopes he can continue to offer quality instruction to students for years to come.
I sat down with Hannah Perry, owner of The Gigging Pig to get her perspective on the arts education.
Interview with Hannah Perry, June 2, 2021
How did art play a role in your success as an entrepreneur?
It was everything. I was raised by parents who encouraged me and my siblings to explore. We visited museums, the theater. It was part of my life. I never questioned whether or not I could do something that I enjoyed. In fact, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I would be an artist. I am very fortunate to have had the arts as part of my upbringing.
Aside from some of the most common arguments for fostering the arts, what are some other less known benefits to arts education?
Unlike sciences and mathematics, the arts enable children to express themselves in non-verbal ways, which in turn, helps to build their self-esteem. The collaboration involved is much more about combining each other’s talents to form a unified project, whether it is a dance performance, a musical concert or theater, being part of the arts allows children to express and discover. In the process, they learn how to be considerate of others. Additional benefits are learning how to cope with emotions, problem solving and decision making, as well as improve vocabulary.
What can our education system do to improve exposure to the arts?
It can be better. For example, we (The Giggling Pig) are invited each year to a local school in a neighboring town for a “Day in the Arts.” It is interactive, as well. We provide art lessons and it is a wonderful day of celebrating.
Not only should all the arts be part of our educational curriculum, but it should start at a young age. I believe it is just as important, if not more than other aspects because in the arts, children are free to express themselves without judgement. In essence, participating in the arts enables children to the best they can be and have the confidence to pursue other things as well.
How can local businesses assist the schools in support of arts education.
I always participate in Junior Achievement and teach entrepreneurship to the students in the high school. That is certainly one way businesses can support the schools.
If money/funding wasn’t an issue, what would you love to see in our public schools regarding the arts that isn’t already being done?
I would love to see our entire community showcase the arts in a way that families can participate. Remember when Stamford had the different cows throughout the city? Perhaps we can do something similar and conduct a scavenger hunt of sorts where they explore our community and get prizes for completing the “hunt”. I would love to see our children have endless opportunities to participate in all kinds of arts programs.
How can parents help children be more involved in the arts?
It doesn’t have to monetary. In fact, start at home by just talking about it. Visit museums often. Go to concerts. Parents can even go online and find many opportunities to learn art or music via several free websites like YouTube. The key is to start when they are very young and continue throughout their years at home.
You mentioned your business, The Giggling Pig. Tell us more about your mission.
We aren’t just an art studio. Our values and mission is to teach children kindness, compassion and empathy. We do this indirectly through the art lessons and camps we run. The books I have written are all about these values.
In my opinion, we expect kids to understand these attributes without giving them the tools. By allowing kids to be creative in a safe and fun environment, children learn not only art, but about friendship, too. I have observed kids, who have been coming to our studios for years, enjoy being with one another, without any predisposed notions. They accept each other and become good friends. It’s a beautiful thing.
What does success look like to you?
As artists we appreciate nature. And I think one of the reasons nature is so powerful and can teach us so much, is that no one questions its beauty. No one asks the trees why they grow at different rates, why ones taller than the other. Why this flower bloomed before that one. We appreciate it for all that it is. And I think people should be more like that.
That to me is success. Giving children the confidence and the love they need to bloom how they want and when they are ready.
Do you foresee a positive future for arts educaiton?What does success look like to you?
Thank you very much, Hannah, for taking the time to discuss your viewpoints and why it is so important to focus on the arts in our education for our children.
After listening to Hannah speak about the arts and how important she believes it needs to be part of our everyday lives, I started to think that any kind of education starts in the home. As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. If we make the arts part of our environment at home, then kids will most likely want to have more of it at school. I strongly believe we need to make it a priority and not only bring in special guests/performances, etc. for a few hours, but interweave throughout the day on a consistent basis.
Art and Music is everywhere. And in all kinds of forms. There are so many benefits to the arts. Making it as part of our everyday lives makes us well-rounded people. It helps open up communication. It is fun. It is an escape. It is healing. Imagine making the arts the forefront of our education as our children grow up. The outcomes of possibilities are endless!
For more information about The Giggling Pig, please visit their website www.thegigglingpig.com. All research for this blogpost is from personal discussions and internet research. Hyperlinks to the statistics are embedded within the post.