Acme Theatre

 Art and Soul

 

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

Aristotle

Artistic Vocal Director and Organizer of Art and Soul Program

RALEIGH – Beth Stovall, Miss Greater Sampson County, won the 2014 Miss North Carolina title on Saturday night June 21, 2014 at Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium. With her operatic vocal performance of “Je Veux Vivre” from Gounod’s opera Romeo and Juliet, Stovall was the top viewer choice out of the more than 250,000 votes submitted.


Her platform is “Art and Soul” which seeks to inspire students to explore and discover their talents.
The Board of Directors of the Heritage Dance Foundation is pleased to welcome Beth Stovall as our Vocal Director. and Creative Consultant She has been instrumental in developing the HDF junior scholarship program which assists students in developing their performing arts skills in dance, music, and visual arts. Recently, she has worked with the Board to develop a summer art program at the new Salter Path Museum in Salter Path, North Carolina www.salterpath.org

PLATFORM:

 

“Art and Soul” which seeks to inspire students to explore and discover their talents. It is my belief that the study of art will enhance a student's SAT performance, ignite their creativity, and enrich their self-esteem.

 

 

Art and Soul
Platform of Miss North Carolina 2014, Beth Stovall

For many years now, the concept of integrating the Arts more thoroughly into American school systems has been debated.  Some argue that the Arts are not a necessity for the growth of children into more well-rounded adults.  Others dispute this theory and whole-heartedly believe that the Arts are not only a necessity, but are a crucial part of development from the earliest stages of life. 

Definitions:

     First one must define “Art and Soul” to fully understand what people are contending.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word

Soul

 I. An essential principle or attribute of life, and related senses

 The condition or attribute of life in humans or animals; animate existence; this viewed as a possession of which one is deprived by death. Obs.

2. a. The principle of intelligence, thought, or action in a person (or occas. an animal), typically regarded as an entity distinct from the body; the essential, immaterial, or spiritual part of a person or animal, as opposed to the physical.In modern use understood to refer to consciousness as a whole, including emotions, hence merging with sense
3a. b. The ‘soul’ in this sense is often contrasted with corporeal existence and is influenced by philosophical and theological concepts of immortality (esp. in sense 7). It is sometimes personified, as in common medieval dialogues between the soul and the body.c. Without article, contrasted with body, life (in early use also †licham), with reference to the separation between a person's immaterial or spiritual attributes and his or her physical form or existence.

4.a. The seat of a person's emotions, feelings, or thoughts; the moral or emotional part of a person's nature; the central or inmost part of a person's being. Freq. in literary and poet. use, especially from the late 18th and early 19th centuries when emphasis upon the immaterial personal ‘soul’ in this sense became a distinctive characteristic of Romanticism.b. As a mass noun. Strength of character; strongly developed intellectual, moral, or aesthetic qualities; spiritual or emotional power or intensity; (also) deep feeling, sensitivity, with reference to art or artistic performance.

c. orig. Jazz. The emotional or spiritual quality of African American life and culture, esp. as manifested in music.

 

 

Moreover, the Oxford Dictionary defines the word Art as: “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.  Subjects of study primarily concerned with the processes and products of human creativity and social life, such as languages, literature, and history (as contrasted with scientific or technical subjects).  A skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice.”

Combing the two definitions of  Art and Soul creates a pro-active platform for creative skill which should be seriously considered when looking to the future development of the individual  and progress for the world.  Without the Arts that Inspire, the creative world, as people know it, will cease to exist.  Science, Technology, and Research are important parts of daily life, but without art intertwined, life will be lackluster and show no vibrancy or diversification  of thought.

Types of Art Disciplines and Programs:

            There are many forms of the Arts: Performance, Visual and Fine Arts.  Each form encompasses a creative, yet disciplined set of rules and values that embody all avenues of expression.  Performance Arts are those that are performed in front of an audience: Drama, Music, Dance, etc.  Visual Arts are those that are created primarily for visual perception: drawing, graphics, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts.  Lastly, the Fine Arts are those that are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.  The arts are seen as an activity requiring great skill or accomplishment. 

Whatever the art form or discipline, they all require commitment, dedication, practice, and passion.  Any human being can delve into themselves and unlock the creative inner soul within.  That is why it is so important to begin this self-discovery process from youth to fully reach each person’s greatest intellectual and creative potential. 

Artists have the ability to construct, deconstruct and reconstruct.  This creative ability is the opposite of the current  business model taught schools; he ability to “think outside the box” or creative innovation  is a key ingredient in successful business practices and economic growth.  Art fosters the creative thinking process and cultivates a new point of view for each individual.  It breaks down the traditional rigid way to process things, and gives a new perspective on problem solving.  Art also encourages observation, development, decision making, etc.  There is a typical stigma associated with the word “artist”.  People tend to think “scatter-brained, eccentric, strange, etc.”, when in reality art is extremely disciplined and somewhat methodical. 

Two examples of disciplined art being incorporated into daily processes are “The Barnes Foundation” and “The Art of Medicine”.  The Barnes Foundation seeks to promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.  These programs advance the mission through progressive, experimental and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.  It offers a progressive approach to learning, using an inquiry-based method.  Students of all ages are encouraged to develop their visual and analytical skills under the direction of dedicated instructors.  The students exchange ideas, debate, and engage in the discovery of new ways of seeing and thinking.

In “The Art of Medicine”, the practice of medicine is considered and art based on science.  Without the creative thinking of Doctors, solutions and cures would be out of reach and elusive.  It has taken many “out of the box” thinkers to establish the standards of medicine in today’s society.  Without those creative intellectuals, there would be no medicine and no life-saving alternatives.  The evolution of medical practices is just one piece of concrete evidence that proves that art is fundamental to new theories, ideas, and change.

Famous People Involved in Art:

Some of the most intelligent, academic and famous people were involved in the arts.  Their involvement in the arts cultivated their inner talents and furthered their contributions to society.  Some examples include: Albert Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright, Benjamin Franklin, Shakespeare, Anna Pavlova, etc. Unbeknownst to many, Albert Einstein had an intense passion for playing the violin.  For almost seven decades, he used the violin as a method of relaxation and creative stimulation when he was challenged scientifically.

 Frank Lloyd Wright had a love of creating stained-glass windows to release his inner creativity when he was not designing architectural structures.  He was also greatly inspired by the music of Beethoven and designed some of his most famous landmarks while listening to the composer’s music.  Benjamin Franklin was a self-taught harpist, guitarist and violinist.  He was also the artist of the most notorious political cartoon that united the colonies against Britain in the French and Indian War.

Shakespeare had a love of language, music and art that was infused into his plays and dramas.  This made him the most recognized and successful playwright ever alive.  Lastly, Anna Pavlova was one of the most famous classical ballet dancers.  Through her love of dance, she brought the art of ballet to some people for the first time and spread the legacy of dance through her fame and passion. 

World Academic Rankings:

As seen throughout the world, art education has flourished since the beginning of time.  The study of all forms of art have led to great achievements, world-renowned discoveries, and intense diversity in every country.  Currently, in comparison to the rest of the world, the United States is falling behind in math, science, and reading.  In 2011, the USA ranked 25th in math, 17th in science, and 14th in reading out of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries that tested 15 year old high school students in these countries. Sadly in 2013 the data demonstrates the USA has fallen even more based on another repeated study.  According to research, it is not the money that represents the problem in school budgets, but rather the allotment of the money towards specific curriculums.  Higher performing countries invest their budget more strategically than the U.S. and achieve more per dollar invested.  Some of this allotment is focused specifically on arts education. 

Goal of Art and Soul:

The goal of “Art and Soul” is to inspire students to explore and discover their talents.  To achieve this goal, art programs need to have a stronger and more secure place within the school system.  The more art programs that are incorporated into the school system, the more talented children will become, thus producing the results that the world is so eager to accomplish.  The allotment of funds for art programs in school budgets has dwindled over the years, and has created a need for better allocation of funds. 

In the state of North Carolina, the total school budget in 2013 for Wayne County approximately exceeded $175,000,000.  The total expenditures on teacher salaries and supplies  for all art, fine arts, dance and music programs were about $2,000,000 which represents less than 1% of the total educational funding for the arts.  Other states are seeing some of the same low percentages allocated for art education.  With the current economic concerns, school boards throughout the United States  are cutting art programs  as an easy way of reducing budgeting concerns.  With less art programs, the funding is being allocated towards more science, technology, and research-based educational programs.

        According to the Wayne County Public Schools, Visual Arts, an integral part of education in the Wayne County Public Schools, is a sequentially taught K-12 program that enhances the visual expressions of students at every level.  As students work at meeting artistic challenges, critical thinking skills, vocabulary, and the connection to other courses of study are interwoven during instruction and independent activities.

 

     Starting as early as Kindergarten, Wayne County Public Schools are using the arts as a way to develop observation skills, explore imagination, increase eye and hand coordination through manipulation of art media and tools, and become more sophisticated in depicting movement, spatial relationships and emotions in their work.  From there as grade level increases, the outcomes, knowledge, and experience become progressively more complex and sophisticated.

The Performing Arts curriculum in Wayne County Public Schools includes vocal and instrumental music, as well as drama.  There are many opportunities for students to showcase their abilities: Bands march in parades and at athletic events, individuals and groups perform and

compete at various gatherings and competitions, and dramatic performances are presented in schools.  The County Choral Showcase, the All-County Choral Festival, and the All-County Band Festival are major annual events.  The Talent Contest is held at the Wayne County Fair and the North Carolina Symphony performs an educational concert each year.

         Although Wayne County schools implement various art programs, the budget is not enough.  There needs to be more awareness raised for the benefits of art-related programs.  Children exposed to art programs tend to do better socially and academically.  They stay out of trouble, have higher self-esteem and feel even more connected to their community.  Also, these children have higher career goals and will more likely be civically engaged in the future.  Not to mention, these benefits are seen on ACT and SAT scores not just in North Carolina, but across the country. 

            As the economic problems continue, average school board budget cuts have risen to 6% for the arts has led to scary possible future statistics.  These cuts warn of further decreased standardized testing scores and higher dropout rates as noted in the 2011 and then 2013, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study .  According to another  study conducted in 2009 by the Center for Arts Education, schools with solid arts programs had higher graduation rates.  Another study by California State University found that the highest reading scores of any student on campus came from music majors and music education majors, thus proving a correlation between music and literacy. 

            Thus, there is a proven relationship between students who take any kind of art course in high school and higher SAT scores (verbal and math) versus those that take no art courses in high school.  Also, students that take an art course all four years of their high school career, score higher on the verbal and math portions of the SAT than those that take less than four years’ worth of art classes.  The art forms of acting/play production achieved that greatest effect in SAT score, while dance achieved the smallest.  Yet, students who took no art-related classes scored lower than those in any art class, including dance. 

            These results set the stage for what should be a plan of action for the future.  Although, these results are enlightening, they are all correlational and cannot be sole foundation upon which the future is based.  There are other factors that contribute to test scores that need to be weighed and considered.  This is an amazing starting point for more research to be conducted and more financing to be allotted for the arts programs. 

            So what is the current and future plan for states like North Carolina? It is an academic program called STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  It is a curriculum being implemented in schools from k-12 through college to improve competitiveness in technology development. It has implications for workforce development, national security concerns and immigration policy.  The goal of STEM is to foster children’s growth to be ready for the workforce after graduation and to increase innovation through technological studies.  Another goal is to promote economic growth by grooming children to become more engaged. 

            The STEM program states that the arts and humanities programs go hand-in-hand with its goals and ideals, yet no arts are found within the curriculum.  STEM curriculum is innovative, fresh and cutting-edge, yet it could be even more enhanced with the addition of art into the courses.  There is an alternative to STEM, it is called STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.  This is very similar to the initial curriculum, yet it includes the arts. STEM to STEAM is a Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)-led initiative to add Art and Design to the national agenda of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and research in America. STEM + Art = STEAM. The goal is to foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer. http://www.risd.edu/About/STEM_to_STEAM/

 It is a contextual curriculum where the subjects are coordinated to co-support each other under a formal educational structure of how science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the broad spectrum of the arts, all relate to one another in reality. This framework, not only includes the art of aesthetics and design, but also the art divisions of the liberal, language, musical, physical and manual.

                       

S-T-E-M with the A includes;

• sharing knowledge with communication and language arts, ‘voice’ – impact, power, legacy

• a working knowledge of manual and physical arts, including how-to and fitness,

• better understanding the past and present cultures and aesthetics through the fine arts,

• rhythmic and emotional use of math with the musical arts,

• understanding sociological developments, human nature and ethics with the liberal arts…

If the country continues to employ programs like STEAM, then children will flourish in all academic fields.  Although STEAM is offered in certain areas, it is not being used to its full extent nationwide.  This curriculum needs to be used consistently throughout the United States to achieve the desired results. 

Miss America Philosophy:

            The Miss America Pageant values the arts and the rest of the country should value them as well.  According to the National Judging Process for the Preliminary Competition, the “Talent” portion is worth the most percentage of the overall weighted score.  It is scored as 35% of the total. This is 10% more than the next highest scored portion, “Private Interview”.  During the Finals, the weight of the “Talent” portion is 30% for the top 8 contestants.  The Miss America Organization puts a positive emphasis on the arts and its impact on the country and population.  Talent and art are seen as an integral part of life that should be seriously considered. 

 

Conclusion:

My platform, Art and Soul is based upon scientific research which supports the importance of the arts in school curriculums as a means to improve SAT scores, inspire creative skills in all studies,  and enhance student self-esteem. Thus, I have fostered partnerships in my local and state communities to create new diverse art programs for students including a visual arts program at the Salter Path Museum www.salterpath.org , performing arts program with Encore Entertainment www.encore-entertainment.org , a vocal instructional program for students at ZPAC www.zpac.net and a junior dance program with the Heritage Dance Foundation www.ballroom.org .

 

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet