SCCA keeps art in Suffolk

Published 12:40 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When municipal budgets are strained, as they have been for several years now, administrators are forced to make hard choices about the types of programs that will get financial support and the types that will be allowed to wither.

As school administrators around the nation have been faced with those decisions — between music and mathematics, between art and English, for instance — it is, perhaps, not surprising that the arts wind up taking the backseat to core curriculum. Mathematics and language skills, after all, are essential to a student’s eventual success in almost any endeavor.

But a broad understanding of the arts helps round out a classical education. People with an appreciation for the arts understand math better, express themselves better and connect with the world more completely than those without that appreciation.

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The Suffolk Fine Arts Commission and the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts have teamed up recently to step into the gap left by underfunded arts programs. In recent months, according to a press release from the SCCA, more than 3,100 area schoolchildren have attended free theater programs at the arts center. Some saw the recent production of “Black Violin with Drums.” Others have seen Virginia Stage Company productions of “Mark Twain,” “Julius Caesar” and “Aesop’s Network.”

For some of those who attended the recent productions, it will be the only exposure they have to live theater as children. From one perspective, that’s a sad thought. From another, however, it’s good to know that they have experienced something of the joy that art can bring.

The Suffolk Fine Arts Commission and the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts are to be commended for their commitment to broadening the horizons of students in the city. Perhaps some day one of those 3,100 students will be the next generation’s greatest playwright. If so, Suffolk can only hope he or she will premiere that production right here at home — perhaps for a new generation of students.