Our Society’s Participation in the Arts

Yellow School Bus  photo by Ian Britton
Yellow School Bus photo by Ian Britton

Remember how much fun it was as a kid going on field trips?  It didn’t matter where you were going, just that you weren’t going to be in the classroom that day.  I went to Gettysburg, Hershey Park, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, some Smithsonian and Zoo trips, and others to a variety of local spots.

According to a recent survey, kids aren’t visiting museums or galleries as much as they used to on field trips.  Their performance in visual art and music classes has also stayed pretty stagnant.  Another recent survey also mentioned that adults visiting art performances, museums, and exhibitions has declined.  (an article about both surveys can be found at the Washington Post’s website.)

So what does this say about our society?  What can we do to make this better?  I really don’t know.  I had very active art teachers in elementary and high school who made sure that we had access to extra art programs and field trips to museums.  I can’t believe that this is something that has declined in recent years.  Field trips are always a way to relieve boredom in the classroom and to help expose kids to things they otherwise might not be aware of.  I don’t have any children, so I’m not sure how my local school district would feel about me suggesting that they take their students on more art related field trips.  I don’t even know what kind of field trips they do go on.

I do know that when Lancaster has their art walks, there are always special activities for kids.  But these take place on weekends, so it’s mainly people taking their children who already know the importance of art.  Field trips are meant to expand kids experiences to include things that their parents might not have exposed them to for whatever reason (lack of interest, lack of time, lack of money).

What do you think we as a society should do about this problem?  How can we help to increase both children and adult participation in art events and venues?  What do you think has been keeping people away from these places?